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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 4 - 20/53 -


So delicate and fine. And when my chaperon is seen, They come from everywhere - The dear old boys with silvery hair, With old-time grace and old-time air, To greet their old-time queen.

They bow as my young Midas here Will never learn to bow (The dancing-masters do not teach That gracious reverence now); With voices quavering just a bit, They play their old parts through, They talk of folk who used to woo, Of hearts that broke in 'fifty-two - Now none the worse for it.

And as those aged crickets chirp, I watch my chaperon's face, And see the dear old features take A new and tender grace; And in her happy eyes I see Her youth awakening bright, With all its hope, desire, delight - Ah, me! I wish that I were quite As young - as young as she!

Henry Cuyler Bunner [1855-1896]

"A PITCHER OF MIGNONETTE"

A pitcher of mignonette In a tenement's highest casement, - Queer sort of flower-pot - yet That pitcher of mignonette Is a garden in heaven set, To the little sick child in the basement - The pitcher of mignonette, In the tenement's highest casement.

Henry Cuyler Bunner [1855-1896]

OLD KING COLE

In Tilbury Town did Old King Cole A wise old age anticipate, Desiring, with his pipe and bowl, No Khan's extravagant estate. No crown annoyed his honest head, No fiddlers three were called or needed; For two disastrous heirs instead Made music more that ever three did.

Bereft of her with whom his life Was harmony without a flaw, He took no other for a wife, Nor sighed for any that he saw; And if he doubted his two sons, And heirs, Alexis and Evander, He might have been as doubtful once Of Robert Burns and Alexander.

Alexis, in his early youth, Began to steal - from old and young. Likewise Evander, and the truth Was like a bad taste on his tongue. Born thieves and liars, their affair Seemed only to be tarred with evil - The most insufferable pair Of scamps that ever cheered the devil.

The world went on, their fame went on, And they went on - from bad to worse; Till, goaded hot with nothing done, And each accoutered with a curse, The friends of Old King Cole, by twos, And fours, and sevens, and elevens, Pronounced unalterable views Of doings that were not of Heaven's.

And having learned again whereby Their baleful zeal had come about, King Cole met many a wrathful eye So kindly that its wrath went out - Or partly out. Say what they would, He seemed the more to court their candor, But never told what kind of good Was in Alexis and Evander.

And Old King Cole, with many a puff That haloed his urbanity, Would smoke till he had smoked enough, And listen most attentively. He beamed as with an inward light That had the Lord's assurance in it; And once a man was there all night, Expecting something every minute.

But whether from too little thought, Or too much fealty to the bowl, A dim reward was all he got For sitting up with Old King Cole. "Though mine," the father mused aloud, "Are not the sons I would have chosen, Shall I, less evilly endowed, By their infirmity be frozen?

"They'll have a bad end, I'll agree, But I was never born to groan; For I can see what I can see, And I'm accordingly alone. With open heart and open door, I love my friends, I like my neighbors; But if I try to tell you more, Your doubts will overmatch my labors.

"This pipe would never make me calm, This bowl my grief would never drown. For grief like mine there is no balm In Gilead, or in Tilbury Town. And if I see what I can see, I know not any way to blind it; Nor more if any way may be For you to grope or fly to find it.

"There may be room for ruin yet, And ashes for a wasted love; Or, like One whom you may forget, I may have meat you know not of. And if I'd rather live than weep Meanwhile, do you find that surprising? Why, bless my soul, the man's asleep! That's good. The sun will soon be rising."

Edwin Arlington Robinson [1869-1935]

THE MASTER MARINER

My grandshire sailed three years from home, And slew unmoved the sounding whale: Here on the windless beach I roam And watch far out the hardy sail.

The lions of the surf that cry Upon this lion-colored shore On reefs of midnight met his eye: He knew their fangs as I their roar.

My grandsire sailed uncharted seas, And toll of all their leagues he took: I scan the shallow bays at ease, And tell their colors in a book.

The anchor-chains his music made And wind in shrouds and running-gear: The thrush at dawn beguiles my glade, And once, 'tis said, I woke to hear.

My grandsire in his ample fist The long harpoon upheld to men: Behold obedient to my wrist A gray gull's-feather for my pen!

Upon my grandsire's leathern cheek Five zones their bitter bronze had set: Some day their hazards I will seek, I promise me at times. Not yet.

I think my grandsire now would turn A mild but speculative eye On me, my pen and its concern, Then gaze again to sea - and sigh.

George Sterling [1869-1926]

A ROSE TO THE LIVING

A rose to the living is more Than sumptuous wreaths to the dead: In filling love's infinite store, A rose to the living is more, - If graciously given before The hungering spirit is fled, - A rose to the living is more Than sumptuous wreaths to the dead.

Nixon Waterman [1859-

A KISS

Rose kissed me to-day. Will she kiss me to-morrow? Let it be as it may, Rose kissed me to-day But the pleasure gives way


The Home Book of Verse, Volume 4 - 20/53

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