Anne Sexton |
You always read about it:
the plumber with the twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son's heart.
from diapers to Dior.
Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.
Or the charwoman
who is on the bus when it cracks up
and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother's grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.
Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That's the way with stepmothers.
Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince's ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went.
Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn't
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.
As nightfall came she thought she'd better
The prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone.
Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince
covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax
and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
They just don't heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.
At the wedding ceremony
the two sisters came to curry favor
and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left
like soup spoons.
Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
Charlotte Bronte |
Lough, vessel, plough the British main,
Seek the free ocean's wider plain;
Leave English scenes and English skies,
Unbind, dissever English ties;
Bear me to climes remote and strange,
Where altered life, fast-following change,
Hot action, never-ceasing toil,
Shall stir, turn, dig, the spirit's soil;
Fresh roots shall plant, fresh seed shall sow,
Till a new garden there shall grow,
Cleared of the weeds that fill it now,
Mere human love, mere selfish yearning,
Which, cherished, would arrest me yet.
I grasp the plough, there's no returning,
Let me, then, struggle to forget.
But England's shores are yet in view,
And England's skies of tender blue
Are arched above her guardian sea.
I cannot yet Remembrance flee;
I must again, then, firmly face
That task of anguish, to retrace.
Wedded to homeI home forsake,
Fearful of changeI changes make;
Too fond of easeI plunge in toil;
Lover of calmI seek turmoil:
Nature and hostile Destiny
Stir in my heart a conflict wild;
And long and fierce the war will be
Ere duty both has reconciled.
What other tie yet holds me fast
To the divorced, abandoned past?
Smouldering, on my heart's altar lies
The fire of some great sacrifice,
Not yet half quenched.
The sacred steel
But lately struck my carnal will,
My life-long hope, first joy and last,
What I loved well, and clung to fast;
What I wished wildly to retain,
What I renounced with soul-felt pain;
Whatwhen I saw it, axe-struck, perish
Left me no joy on earth to cherish;
A man bereftyet sternly now
I do confirm that Jephtha vow:
Shall I retract, or fear, or flee ?
Did Christ, when rose the fatal tree
Before him, on Mount Calvary ?
'Twas a long fight, hard fought, but won,
And what I did was justly done.
Yet, Helen ! from thy love I turned,
When my heart most for thy heart burned;
I dared thy tears, I dared thy scorn
Easier the death-pang had been borne.
Helen ! thou mightst not go with me,
I could notdared not stay for thee !
I heard, afar, in bonds complain
The savage from beyond the main;
And that wild sound rose o'er the cry
Wrung out by passion's agony;
And even when, with the bitterest tear
I ever shed, mine eyes were dim,
Still, with the spirit's vision clear,
I saw Hell's empire, vast and grim,
Spread on each Indian river's shore,
Each realm of Asia covering o'er.
There the weak, trampled by the strong,
Live but to sufferhopeless die;
There pagan-priests, whose creed is Wrong,
Extortion, Lust, and Cruelty,
Crush our lost raceand brimming fill
The bitter cup of human ill;
And Iwho have the healing creed,
The faith benign of Mary's Son;
Shall I behold my brother's need
And selfishly to aid him shun ?
Iwho upon my mother's knees,
In childhood, read Christ's written word,
Received his legacy of peace,
His holy rule of action heard;
Iin whose heart the sacred sense
Of Jesus' love was early felt;
Of his pure full benevolence,
His pitying tenderness for guilt;
His shepherd-care for wandering sheep,
For all weak, sorrowing, trembling things,
His mercy vast, his passion deep
Of anguish for man's sufferings;
Ischooled from childhood in such lore
Dared I draw back or hesitate,
When called to heal the sickness sore
Of those far off and desolate ?
Dark, in the realm and shades of Death,
Nations and tribes and empires lie,
But even to them the light of Faith
Is breaking on their sombre sky:
And be it mine to bid them raise
Their drooped heads to the kindling scene,
And know and hail the sunrise blaze
Which heralds Christ the Nazarene.
I know how Hell the veil will spread
Over their brows and filmy eyes,
And earthward crush the lifted head
That would look up and seek the skies;
I know what war the fiend will wage
Against that soldier of the cross,
Who comes to dare his demon-rage,
And work his kingdom shame and loss.
Yes, hard and terrible the toil
Of him who steps on foreign soil,
Resolved to plant the gospel vine,
Where tyrants rule and slaves repine;
Eager to lift Religion's light
Where thickest shades of mental night
Screen the false god and fiendish rite;
Reckless that missionary blood,
Shed in wild wilderness and wood,
Has left, upon the unblest air,
The man's deep moanthe martyr's prayer.
I know my lotI only ask
Power to fulfil the glorious task;
Willing the spirit, may the flesh
Strength for the day receive afresh.
May burning sun or deadly wind
Prevail not o'er an earnest mind;
May torments strange or direst death
Nor trample truth, nor baffle faith.
Though such blood-drops should fall from me
As fell in old Gethsemane,
Welcome the anguish, so it gave
More strength to workmore skill to save.
And, oh ! if brief must be my time,
If hostile hand or fatal clime
Cut short my coursestill o'er my grave,
Lord, may thy harvest whitening wave.
So I the culture may begin,
Let others thrust the sickle in;
If but the seed will faster grow,
May my blood water what I sow !
What ! have I ever trembling stood,
And feared to give to God that blood ?
What ! has the coward love of life
Made me shrink from the righteous strife ?
Have human passions, human fears
Severed me from those Pioneers,
Whose task is to march first, and trace
Paths for the progress of our race ?
It has been so; but grant me, Lord,
Now to stand steadfast by thy word !
Protected by salvation's helm,
Shielded by faithwith truth begirt,
To smile when trials seek to whelm
And stand 'mid testing fires unhurt !
Hurling hell's strongest bulwarks down,
Even when the last pang thrills my breast,
When Death bestows the Martyr's crown,
And calls me into Jesus' rest.
Then for my ultimate reward
Then for the world-rejoicing word
The voice from FatherSpiritSon:
" Servant of God, well hast thou done !"
Bliss Carman |
TO the assembled folk
At great St.
Young Brother Amiel on Christmas Eve;
I give you joy, my friends,
That as the round year ends,
We meet once more for gladness by God’s leave.
On other festal days
For penitence or praise
Or prayer we meet, or fullness of thanksgiving;
To-night we calendar
The rising of that star
Which lit the old world with new joy of living.
Ah, we disparage still
The Tidings of Good Will,
Discrediting Love’s gospel now as then!
And with the verbal creed
That God is love indeed,
Who dares make Love his god before all men?
Shall we not, therefore, friends,
Resolve to make amends
To that glad inspiration of the heart;
To grudge not, to cast out
Selfishness, malice, doubt,
Anger and fear; and for the better part,
To love so much, so well,
The spirit cannot tell
The range and sweep of her own boundary!
There is no period
Between the soul and God;
Love is the tide, God the eternal sea.
To-day we walk by love;
To strive is not enough,
Save against greed and ignorance and might.
We apprehend peace comes
Not with the roll of drums,
But in the still processions of the night.
And we perceive, not awe
But love is the great law
That binds the world together safe and whole.
The splendid planets run
Their courses in the sun;
Love is the gravitation of the soul.
In the profound unknown,
Illumined, fair, and lone,
Each star is set to shimmer in its place.
In the profound divine
Each soul is set to shine,
And its unique appointed orbit trace.
There is no near nor far,
Where glorious Algebar
Swings round his mighty circuit through the night,
Yet where without a sound
The winged seed comes to ground,
And the red leaf seems hardly to alight.
One force, one lore, one need
For satellite and seed,
In the serene benignity for all.
Letting her time-glass run
With star-dust, sun by sun,
In Nature’s thought there is no great nor small.
There is no far nor near
Within the spirit’s sphere.
The summer sunset’s scarlet-yellow wings
Are tinged with the same dye
That paints the tulip’s ply.
And what is colour but the soul of things?
(The earth was without form;
God moulded it with storm,
Ice, flood, and tempest, gleaming tint and hue;
Lest it should come to ill
For lack of spirit still,
He gave it colour,—let the love shine through.
Of old, men said, ‘Sin not;
By every line and jot
Ye shall abide; man’s heart is false and vile.
Christ said, ‘By love alone
In man’s heart is God known;
Obey the word no falsehood can defile.
And since that day we prove
Only how great is love,
Nor to this hour its greatness half believe.
For to what other power
Will life give equal dower,
Or chaos grant one moment of reprieve!
Look down the ages’ line,
Where slowly the divine
Evinces energy, puts forth control;
See mighty love alone
Transmuting stock and stone,
Infusing being, helping sense and soul.
And what is energy,
In-working, which bids be
The starry pageant and the life of earth?
What is the genesis
Of every joy and bliss,
Each action dared, each beauty brought to birth?
What hangs the sun on high?
What swells the growing rye?
What bids the loons cry on the Northern lake?
What stirs in swamp and swale,
When April winds prevail,
And all the dwellers of the ground awake?…
What lurks in the deep gaze
Of the old wolf? Amaze,
Hope, recognition, gladness, anger, fear.
But deeper than all these
Love muses, yearns, and sees,
And is the self that does not change nor veer.
Not love of self alone,
Struggle for lair and bone,
But self-denying love of mate and young,
Love that is kind and wise,
Knows trust and sacrifice,
And croons the old dark universal tongue.
And who has understood
Our brothers of the wood,
Save he who puts off guile and every guise
Of violence,—made truce
With panther, bear, and moose,
As beings like ourselves whom love makes wise?
For they, too, do love’s will,
Our lesser clansmen still;
The House of Many Mansions holds us all;
Courageous, glad and hale,
They go forth on the trail,
Hearing the message, hearkening to the call.
Open the door to-night
Within your heart, and light
The lantern of love there to shine afar.
On a tumultuous sea
Some straining craft, maybe,
With bearings lost, shall sight love’s silver star.
Nikki Giovanni |
I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy's garden
And lots of
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
At the church
And go to the mountains with
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
G K Chesterton |
Isaiah Bunter has disappeared into the interior of the Solomon Islands, and it is feared that he may have been devoured by the natives, as there has been a considerable revival of religious customs among the Polynesians.
--A real paragraph from a real Paper; only the names altered.
It was Isaiah Bunter
Who sailed to the world's end,
And spread religion in a way
That he did not intend.
He gave, if not the gospel-feast,
At least a ritual meal;
And in a highly painful sense
He was devoured with zeal.
And who are we (as Henson says)
That we should close the door?
And should not Evangelicals
All jump at shedding Gore?
And many a man will melt in man,
Becoming one, not two,
When smacks across the startled earth
The Kiss of Kikuyu.
When Man is the Turk, and the Atheist,
Essene, Erastian, Whig,
And the Thug and the Druse and the Catholic
And the crew of the Captain's gig.
William Blake |
84 Thee the ancientest peer, Duke of Burgundy, rose from the monarch's right hand, red as wines
85 From his mountains; an odor of war, like a ripe vineyard, rose from his garments,
86 And the chamber became as a clouded sky; o'er the council he stretch'd his red limbs,
87 Cloth'd in flames of crimson; as a ripe vineyard stretches over sheaves of corn,
88 The fierce Duke hung over the council; around him crowd, weeping in his burning robe,
89 A bright cloud of infant souls; his words fall like purple autumn on the sheaves:
90 "Shall this marble built heaven become a clay cottage, this earth an oak stool and these mowers
91 From the Atlantic mountains mow down all this great starry harvest of six thousand years?
92 And shall Necker, the hind of Geneva, stretch out his crook'd sickle o'er fertile France
93 Till our purple and crimson is faded to russet, and the kingdoms of earth bound in sheaves,
94 And the ancient forests of chivalry hewn, and the joys of the combat burnt for fuel;
95 Till the power and dominion is rent from the pole, sword and sceptre from sun and moon,
96 The law and gospel from fire and air, and eternal reason and science
97 From the deep and the solid, and man lay his faded head down on the rock
98 Of eternity, where the eternal lion and eagle remain to devour?
99 This to prevent--urg'd by cries in day, and prophetic dreams hovering in night,
100 To enrich the lean earth that craves, furrow'd with plows, whose seed is departing from her--
101 Thy nobles have gather'd thy starry hosts round this rebellious city,
102 To rouze up the ancient forests of Europe, with clarions of cloud breathing war,
103 To hear the horse neigh to the drum and trumpet, and the trumpet and war shout reply.
104 Stretch the hand that beckons the eagles of heaven; they cry over Paris, and wait
105 Till Fayette point his finger to Versailles; the eagles of heaven must have their prey!"
106 He ceas'd, and burn'd silent; red clouds roll round Necker; a weeping is heard o'er the palace.
107 Like a dark cloud Necker paus'd, and like thunder on the just man's burial day he paus'd;
108 Silent sit the winds, silent the meadows, while the husbandman and woman of weakness
109 And bright children look after him into the grave, and water his clay with love,
110 Then turn towards pensive fields; so Necker paus'd, and his visage was covered with clouds.
111 The King lean'd on his mountains, then lifted his head and look'd on his armies, that shone
112 Through heaven, tinging morning with beams of blood; then turning to Burgundy, troubled:
113 "Burgundy, thou wast born a lion! My soul is o'ergrown with distress.
114 For the nobles of France, and dark mists roll round me and blot the writing of God
115 Written in my bosom.
Necker rise! leave the kingdom, thy life is surrounded with snares.
116 We have call'd an Assembly, but not to destroy; we have given gifts, not to the weak;
117 I hear rushing of muskets, and bright'ning of swords, and visages redd'ning with war,
118 Frowning and looking up from brooding villages and every dark'ning city.
119 Ancient wonders frown over the kingdom, and cries of women and babes are heard,
120 And tempests of doubt roll around me, and fierce sorrows, because of the nobles of France.
121 Depart! answer not! for the tempest must fall, as in years that are passed away.
Eugene Field |
I'd not complain of Sister Jane, for she was good and kind,
Combining with rare comeliness distinctive gifts of mind;
Nay, I'll admit it were most fit that, worn by social cares,
She'd crave a change from parlor life to that below the stairs,
And that, eschewing needlework and music, she should take
Herself to the substantial art of manufacturing cake.
At breakfast, then, it would befall that Sister Jane would say:
"Mother, if you have got the things, I'll make some cake to-day!"
Poor mother'd cast a timid glance at father, like as not--
For father hinted sister's cooking cost a frightful lot--
But neither she nor he presumed to signify dissent,
Accepting it for gospel truth that what she wanted went!
No matter what the rest of 'em might chance to have in hand,
The whole machinery of the house came to a sudden stand;
The pots were hustled off the stove, the fire built up anew,
With every damper set just so to heat the oven through;
The kitchen-table was relieved of everything, to make
That ample space which Jane required when she compounded cake.
And, oh! the bustling here and there, the flying to and fro;
The click of forks that whipped the eggs to lather white as snow--
And what a wealth of sugar melted swiftly out of sight--
And butter? Mother said such waste would ruin father, quite!
But Sister Jane preserved a mien no pleading could confound
As she utilized the raisins and the citron by the pound.
Oh, hours of chaos, tumult, heat, vexatious din, and whirl!
Of deep humiliation for the sullen hired-girl;
Of grief for mother, hating to see things wasted so,
And of fortune for that little boy who pined to taste that dough!
It looked so sweet and yellow--sure, to taste it were no sin--
But, oh! how sister scolded if he stuck his finger in!
The chances were as ten to one, before the job was through,
That sister'd think of something else she'd great deal rather do!
So, then, she'd softly steal away, as Arabs in the night,
Leaving the girl and ma to finish up as best they might;
These tactics (artful Sister Jane) enabled her to take
Or shift the credit or the blame of that too-treacherous cake!
And yet, unhappy is the man who has no Sister Jane--
For he who has no sister seems to me to live in vain.
I never had a sister--may be that is why today
I'm wizened and dyspeptic, instead of blithe and gay;
A boy who's only forty should be full of romp and mirth,
But I (because I'm sisterless) am the oldest man on earth!
Had I a little sister--oh, how happy I should be!
I'd never let her cast her eyes on any chap but me;
I'd love her and I'd cherish her for better and for worse--
I'd buy her gowns and bonnets, and sing her praise in verse;
And--yes, what's more and vastly more--I tell you what I'd do:
I'd let her make her wondrous cake, and I would eat it, too!
I have a high opinion of the sisters, as you see--
Another fellow's sister is so very dear to me!
I love to work anear her when she's making over frocks,
When she patches little trousers or darns prosaic socks;
But I draw the line at one thing--yes, I don my hat and take
A three hours' walk when she is moved to try her hand at cake!
Robert Burns |
WHEN Guilford good our pilot stood
An’ did our hellim thraw, man,
Ae night, at tea, began a plea,
Within America, man:
Then up they gat the maskin-pat,
And in the sea did jaw, man;
An’ did nae less, in full congress,
Than quite refuse our law, man.
Then thro’ the lakes Montgomery takes,
I wat he was na slaw, man;
Down Lowrie’s Burn he took a turn,
And Carleton did ca’, man:
But yet, whatreck, he, at Quebec,
Montgomery-like did fa’, man,
Wi’ sword in hand, before his band,
Amang his en’mies a’, man.
Poor Tammy Gage within a cage
Was kept at Boston-ha’, man;
Till Willie Howe took o’er the knowe
For Philadelphia, man;
Wi’ sword an’ gun he thought a sin
Guid Christian bluid to draw, man;
But at New York, wi’ knife an’ fork,
Sir-Loin he hacked sma’, man.
Burgoyne gaed up, like spur an’ whip,
Till Fraser brave did fa’, man;
Then lost his way, ae misty day,
In Saratoga shaw, man.
Cornwallis fought as lang’s he dought,
An’ did the Buckskins claw, man;
But Clinton’s glaive frae rust to save,
He hung it to the wa’, man.
Then Montague, an’ Guilford too,
Began to fear, a fa’, man;
And Sackville dour, wha stood the stour,
The German chief to thraw, man:
For Paddy Burke, like ony Turk,
Nae mercy had at a’, man;
An’ Charlie Fox threw by the box,
An’ lows’d his tinkler jaw, man.
Then Rockingham took up the game,
Till death did on him ca’, man;
When Shelburne meek held up his cheek,
Conform to gospel law, man:
Saint Stephen’s boys, wi’ jarring noise,
They did his measures thraw, man;
For North an’ Fox united stocks,
An’ bore him to the wa’, man.
Then clubs an’ hearts were Charlie’s cartes,
He swept the stakes awa’, man,
Till the diamond’s ace, of Indian race,
Led him a sair faux pas, man:
The Saxon lads, wi’ loud placads,
On Chatham’s boy did ca’, man;
An’ Scotland drew her pipe an’ blew,
“Up, Willie, waur them a’, man!”
Behind the throne then Granville’s gone,
A secret word or twa, man;
While slee Dundas arous’d the class
Be-north the Roman wa’, man:
An’ Chatham’s wraith, in heav’nly graith,
(Inspired bardies saw, man),
Wi’ kindling eyes, cry’d, “Willie, rise!
Would I hae fear’d them a’, man?”
But, word an’ blow, North, Fox, and Co.
Gowff’d Willie like a ba’, man;
Till Suthron raise, an’ coost their claise
Behind him in a raw, man:
An’ Caledon threw by the drone,
An’ did her whittle draw, man;
An’ swoor fu’ rude, thro’ dirt an’ bluid,
To mak it guid in law, man.
Algernon Charles Swinburne |
HAIL, January, that bearest here
On snowbright breasts the babe-faced year
That weeps and trembles to be born.
Hail, maid and mother, strong and bright,
Hooded and cloaked and shod with white,
Whose eyes are stars that match the morn.
Thy forehead braves the storm's bent bow,
Thy feet enkindle stars of snow.
Wan February with weeping cheer,
Whose cold hand guides the youngling year
Down misty roads of mire and rime,
Before thy pale and fitful face
The shrill wind shifts the clouds apace
Through skies the morning scarce may climb.
Thine eyes are thick with heavy tears,
But lit with hopes that light the year's.
Hail, happy March, whose foot on earth
Rings as the blast of martial mirth
When trumpets fire men's hearts for fray.
No race of wild things winged or finned
May match the might that wings thy wind
Through air and sea, through scud and spray.
Strong joy and thou were powers twin-born
Of tempest and the towering morn.
Crowned April, king whose kiss bade earth
Bring forth to time her lordliest birth
When Shakespeare from thy lips drew breath
And laughed to hold in one soft hand
A spell that bade the world's wheel stand,
And power on life, and power on death,
With quiring suns and sunbright showers
Praise him, the flower of all thy flowers.
Hail, May, whose bark puts forth full-sailed
For summer; May, whom Chaucer hailed
With all his happy might of heart,
And gave thy rosebright daisy-tips
Strange frarance from his amorous lips
That still thine own breath seems to part
And sweeten till each word they say
Is even a flower of flowering May.
Strong June, superb, serene, elate
With conscience of thy sovereign state
Untouched of thunder, though the storm
Scathe here and there thy shuddering skies
And bid its lightning cross thine eyes
With fire, thy golden hours inform
Earth and the souls of men with life
That brings forth peace from shining strife.
Hail, proud July, whose fervent mouth
Bids even be morn and north be south
By grace and gospel of thy word,
Whence all the splendour of the sea
Lies breathless with delight in thee
And marvel at the music heard
From the ardent silent lips of noon
And midnight's rapturous plenilune.
Great August, lord of golden lands,
Whose lordly joy through seas and strands
And all the red-ripe heart of earth
Strikes passion deep as life, and stills
The folded vales and folding hills
With gladness too divine for mirth,
The gracious glories of thine eyes
Make night a noon where darkness dies.
Hail, kind September, friend whose grace
Renews the bland year's bounteous face
With largess given of corn and wine
Through many a land that laughs with love
Of thee and all the heaven above,
More fruitful found than all save thine
Whose skies fulfil with strenuous cheer
The fervent fields that knew thee near.
October of the tawny crown,
Whose heavy-laden hands drop down
Blessing, the bounties of thy breath
And mildness of thy mellowing might
Fill earth and heaven with love and light
Too sweet for fear to dream of death
Or memory, while thy joy lives yet,
To know what joy would fain forget.
Hail, soft November, though thy pale
Sad smile rebuke the words that hail
Thy sorrow with no sorrowing words
Or gratulate thy grief with song
Less bitter than the winds that wrong
Thy withering woodlands, where the birds
Keep hardly heart to sing or see
How fair thy faint wan face may be.
December, thou whose hallowing hands
On shuddering seas and hardening lands
Set as a sacramental sign
The seal of Christmas felt on earth
As witness toward a new year's birth
Whose promise makes thy death divine,
The crowning joy that comes of thee
Makes glad all grief on land or sea.
Robert William Service |
"The North has got him.
I tried to refine that neighbor of mine, honest to God, I did.
I grieved for his fate, and early and late I watched over him like a kid.
I gave him excuse, I bore his abuse in every way that I could;
I swore to prevail; I camped on his trail; I plotted and planned for his good.
By day and by night I strove in men's sight to gather him into the fold,
With precept and prayer, with hope and despair, in hunger and hardship and cold.
I followed him into Gehennas of sin, I sat where the sirens sit;
In the shade of the Pole, for the sake of his soul, I strove with the powers of the Pit.
I shadowed him down to the scrofulous town; I dragged him from dissolute brawls;
But I killed the galoot when he started to shoot electricity into my walls.
God knows what I did he should seek to be rid of one who would save him from shame.
God knows what I bore that night when he swore and bade me make tracks from his claim.
I started to tell of the horrors of hell, when sudden his eyes lit like coals;
And "Chuck it," says he, "don't persecute me with your cant and your saving of souls.
I'll swear I was mild as I'd be with a child, but he called me the son of a ****;
And, grabbing his gun with a leap and a run, he threatened my face with the butt.
So what could I do (I leave it to you)? With curses he harried me forth;
Then he was alone, and I was alone, and over us menaced the North.
Our cabins were near; I could see, I could hear; but between us there rippled the creek;
And all summer through, with a rancor that grew, he would pass me and never would speak.
Then a shuddery breath like the coming of Death crept down from the peaks far away;
The water was still; the twilight was chill; the sky was a tatter of gray.
Swift came the Big Cold, and opal and gold the lights of the witches arose;
The frost-tyrant clinched, and the valley was cinched by the stark and cadaverous snows.
The trees were like lace where the star-beams could chase, each leaf was a jewel agleam.
The soft white hush lapped the Northland and wrapped us round in a crystalline dream;
So still I could hear quite loud in my ear the swish of the pinions of time;
So bright I could see, as plain as could be, the wings of God's angels ashine.
As I read in the Book I would oftentimes look to that cabin just over the creek.
Ah me, it was sad and evil and bad, two neighbors who never would speak!
I knew that full well like a devil in hell he was hatching out, early and late,
A system to bear through the frost-spangled air the warm, crimson waves of his hate.
I only could peer and shudder and fear--'twas ever so ghastly and still;
But I knew over there in his lonely despair he was plotting me terrible ill.
I knew that he nursed a malice accurst, like the blast of a winnowing flame;
I pleaded aloud for a shield, for a shroud--Oh, God! then calamity came.
Mad! If I'm mad then you too are mad; but it's all in the point of view.
If you'd looked at them things gallivantin' on wings, all purple and green and blue;
If you'd noticed them twist, as they mounted and hissed like scorpions dim in the dark;
If you'd seen them rebound with a horrible sound, and spitefully spitting a spark;
If you'd watched IT with dread, as it hissed by your bed, that thing with the feelers that crawls--
You'd have settled the brute that attempted to shoot electricity into your walls.
Oh, some they were blue, and they slithered right through; they were silent and squashy and round;
And some they were green; they were wriggly and lean; they writhed with so hateful a sound.
My blood seemed to freeze; I fell on my knees; my face was a white splash of dread.
Oh, the Green and the Blue, they were gruesome to view; but the worst of them all were the Red.
They came through the door, they came through the floor, they came through the moss-creviced logs.
They were savage and dire; they were whiskered with fire; they bickered like malamute dogs.
They ravined in rings like iniquitous things; they gulped down the Green and the Blue.
I crinkled with fear whene'er they drew near, and nearer and nearer they drew.
And then came the crown of Horror's grim crown, the monster so loathsomely red.
Each eye was a pin that shot out and in, as, squidlike, it oozed to my bed;
So softly it crept with feelers that swept and quivered like fine copper wire;
Its belly was white with a sulphurous light, it jaws were a-drooling with fire.
It came and it came; I could breathe of its flame, but never a wink could I look.
I thrust in its maw the Fount of the Law; I fended it off with the Book.
I was weak--oh, so weak--but I thrilled at its shriek, as wildly it fled in the night;
And deathlike I lay till the dawn of the day.
(Was ever so welcome the light?)
I loaded my gun at the rise of the sun; to his cabin so softly I slunk.
My neighbor was there in the frost-freighted air, all wrapped in a robe in his bunk.
It muffled his moans; it outlined his bones, as feebly he twisted about;
His gums were so black, and his lips seemed to crack, and his teeth all were loosening out.
'Twas a death's head that peered through the tangle of beard; 'twas a face I will never forget;
Sunk eyes full of woe, and they troubled me so with their pleadings and anguish, and yet
As I rested my gaze in a misty amaze on the scurvy-degenerate wreck,
I thought of the Things with the dragon-fly wings, then laid I my gun on his neck.
He gave out a cry that was faint as a sigh, like a perishing malamute,
And he says unto me, "I'm converted," says he; "for Christ's sake, Peter, don't shoot!"
* * * * *
They're taking me out with an escort about, and under a sergeant's care;
I am humbled indeed, for I'm 'cuffed to a Swede that thinks he's a millionaire.
But it's all Gospel true what I'm telling to you-- up there where the Shadow falls--
That I settled Sam Noot when he started to shoot electricity into my walls.