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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 4 - 10/53 -

The jewel fresh as any blossom, Till some Visconti dug it up, - To rise and fall on Mabel's bosom!

O nameless brother! see how Time Your gracious handiwork has guarded: See how your loving, patient art Has come, at last, to be rewarded.

Who would not suffer slights of men, And pangs of hopeless passion also, To have his carven agate-stone On such a bosom rise and fall so!

Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1837-1907]

THALIA A Middle-aged Lyrical Poet Is supposed To Be Taking Final Leave Of The Muse Of Comedy. She Has Brought Him His Hat And Gloves, And Is Abstractedly Picking A Thread Of Gold Hair From His Coat Sleeve As He Begins To Speak:

I say it under the rose - oh, thanks! - yes, under the laurel, We part lovers, not foes; we are not going to quarrel.

We have too long been friends on foot and in gilded coaches, Now that the whole thing ends, to spoil our kiss with reproaches.

I leave you; my soul is wrung; I pause, look back from the portal - Ah, I no more am young, and you, child, you are immortal!

Mine is the glacier's way, yours is the blossom's weather - When were December and May known to be happy together?

Before my kisses grow tame, before my moodiness grieve you, While yet my heart is flame, and I all lover, I leave you.

So, in the coming time, when you count the rich years over, Think of me in my prime, and not as a white-haired lover,

Fretful, pierced with regret, the wraith of a dead Desire Thrumming a cracked spinet by a slowly dying fire.

When, at last, I am cold - years hence, if the gods so will it - Say, "He was true as gold," and wear a rose in your fillet!

Others, tender as I, will come and sue for caresses, Woo you, win you, and die - mind you, a rose in your tresses!

Some Melpomene woo, some hold Clio the nearest; You, sweet Comedy - you were ever sweetest and dearest!

Nay, it is time to go. When writing your tragic sister Say to that child of woe how sorry I was I missed her.

Really, I cannot stay, though "parting is such sweet sorrow" . . . Perhaps I will, on my way down-town, look in to-morrow!

Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1837-1907]


Just where the Treasury's marble front Looks over Wall Street's mingled nations; Where Jews and Gentiles most are wont To throng for trade and last quotations; Where, hour by hour, the rates of gold Outrival, in the ears of people, The quarter-chimes, serenely tolled From Trinity's undaunted steeple, -

Even there I heard a strange, wild strain Sound high above the modern clamor, Above the cries of greed and gain, The curbstone war, the auction's hammer; And swift, on Music's misty ways, It led, from all this strife for millions, To ancient, sweet-to-nothing days Among the kirtle-robed Sicilians.

And as it stilled the multitude, And yet more joyous rose, and shriller, I saw the minstrel, where he stood At ease against a Doric pillar: One hand a droning organ played, The other held a Pan's-pipe (fashioned Like those of old) to lips that made The reeds give out that strain impassioned.

'Twas Pan himself had wandered here A-strolling through this sordid city, And piping to the civic ear The prelude of some pastoral ditty! The demigod had crossed the seas, - From haunts of shepherd, nymph, and satyr, And Syracusan times, - to these Far shores and twenty centuries later.

A ragged cap was on his head; But - hidden thus - there was no doubting That, all with crispy locks o'erspread, His gnarled horns were somewhere sprouting; His club-feet, cased in rusty shoes, Were crossed, as on some frieze you see them, And trousers, patched of divers hues, Concealed his crooked shanks beneath them.

He filled the quivering reeds with sound, And o'er his mouth their changes shifted, And with his goat's-eyes looked around Where'er the passing current drifted; And soon, as on Trinacrian hills The nymphs and herdsmen ran to hear him, Even now the tradesmen from their tills, With clerks and porters, crowded near him.

The bulls and bears together drew From Jauncey Court and New Street Alley, As erst, if pastorals be true, Came beasts from every wooded valley; The random passers stayed to list, - A boxer Aegon, rough and merry, A Broadway Daphnis, on his tryst With Nais at the Brooklyn Ferry.

A one-eyed Cyclops halted long In tattered cloak of army pattern, And Galatea joined the throng, - A blowsy, apple-vending slattern; While old Silenus staggered out From some new-fangled lunch-house handy, And bade the piper, with a shout, To strike up Yankee Doodle Dandy!

A newsboy and a peanut-girl Like little Fauns began to caper: His hair was all in tangled curl, Her tawny legs were bare and taper; And still the gathering larger grew, And gave its pence and crowded nigher, While aye the shepherd-minstrel blew His pipe, and struck the gamut higher.

O heart of Nature, beating still With throbs her vernal passion taught her, - Even here, as on the vine-clad hill, Or by the Arethusan water! New forms may fold the speech, new lands Arise within these ocean-portals, But Music waves eternal wands, - Enchantress of the souls of mortals!

So thought I, - but among us trod A man in blue, with legal baton, And scoffed the vagrant demigod, And pushed him from the step I sat on. Doubting I mused upon the cry, "Great Pan is dead!" - and all the people Went on their ways: - and clear and high The quarter sounded from the steeple.

Edmund Clarence Stedman [1833-1908]


My Lesbia, I will not deny, Bewitches me completely; She has the usual beaming eye, And smiles upon me sweetly: But she has an unseemly way Of contradicting what I say.

The Home Book of Verse, Volume 4 - 10/53

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