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- Embers, Volume 3. - 2/7 -


Better for me the world would say, If I had broke the charm, Set in the circle she one day Made by her round white arm.

Never a king in days of eld Gathered about his throat Such a circlet; no queen e'er held Necklace so clear of mote.

It sufficeth the charm was set; And if it chance that one Still remembers, though one forget, Then is the worst thing done--

Done, and I still can say "Let be; I have no word of blame; Though her heart is no more for me, Mine shall be still the same."

I have my life to live and she-- Well, if it be so--so; She may welcome or banish me And if I go, I go.

Friend, I pray you repress those tears, Comfort from this derive: I am a score--and more-of years And Jean is only five.

A MEMORY

From buckwheat fields the summer sun Drew honeyed breezes over The lanes where happy children run With bare feet in the clover.

The schoolhouse stood with pines about Upon the hill, and ever A creek, where hid the speckled trout, Ran past it to the river.

And rosy faces gathered there, With rustic good around them; With breath of balm blown everywhere, Pure, ere the world had found them.

Behind sweet purple ambuscades Of lilacs, laws were broken; And here a desk with knives was frayed, There passed forbidden token.

One slipped a butternut between His pearly teeth; a maiden Dove-eyed, caressed her cheek; 'twas e'en With maple sugar laden--

A flock that caught at wiles, because The shepherd's hand that drove them, Reached little toward wise human laws, And less to God above them.

With eyebrows bent and surly look He only saw before him, The rule, the lesson, and the book, Not nature brooding o'er him.

One day through drone of locusts fell The wood-bird's fitful tapping, And in his chair at "dinner-spell," The teacher grim sat napping.

An urchin creeping in beholds The tyrant slumber-smitten, And in his pocket's ample folds He thrusts the school-yard kitten.

At length the master waked, and clanged His bell with anger fitting; His sleep had made it double-fanged, And crossed like needles knitting.

Slow to their seats the children file, And wait "Prepare for classes," A score of lads across the aisle From twice a score of lasses.

But two within the throng betray A mirth suppressed; the sinner, And Rafe Ridall, the chief at play, At books the easy winner:

The wildest boy in all the school, In mischief first and ever, His daily seat the penance-stool, Disgraced for weeks together.

Just sound of bone and strong of heart, Staunch friend and noble foeman; In life to play the kingly part, True both to man and woman.

Joe's secret now he holds; a deed With just enough of danger, To win his--ah, what's that? 'Tis freed, The pocket-prisoned stranger!

A moment's riot laughter-filled, Then fear, white-visaged, follows; And through the silence there is trilled The shrill note of the swallows.

And now a fierce form fronts them all, Two fierce eyes search their faces, Then flash their fire on Rafe Ridall, Whose mirth no peril chases.

"You did it, sir!" "Not I!" "You did!" "No!" "You've one chance for showing Who in my coat the kitten hid, Or be well thrashed for knowing."

The master paused, the birch he grasped Against his trousers flicking; Rafe said, with hands behind him clasped, "I'd rather take the licking."

Full many a year has passed since then, The lilacs still are blooming, Awaiting childish hands again, But they are long in coming.

Now wandering swallows build their nests Where doors and roofs decaying, No more shut in the master's zest, Nor out the children's playing.

All, all are gone who gathered there; Some toil among the masses, Some, overworn with pain and care, Wait Death's "Prepare for classes."

And some--the sighing pines sway on Above them, dreamless lying; And 'mong them sleeps the master, gone His anger and their crying.

And Rafe Ridall, brave then, brave now, Amid the jarring courses Of man's misrule, still takes the blow For those of weaker forces.

IN CAMP AT JUNIPER COVE

A little brown sparrow came tripping Across the green grass at my feet; A kingfisher poised, and was peering Where current and calm water meet;

The clouds hung in passionless clusters Above the green hills of the south; A bobolink fluttered to leeward With a twinkle of bells in its mouth.

Ah, the morning was silver with glory As I lay by my tent on the shore; And the soft air was drunken with odours, And my soul lifted up to adore.

Is there wonder I took me to dreaming Of the gardens of Greece and old Rome, Of the fair watered meadows of Ida, And the hills where the gods made their home?

Of the Argonauts sung to by Sirens, Of Andromache, Helen of Troy, Of Proserpine, Iphigenia, And the Fates that build up and destroy?

Of the phantom isle, green Theresea, And the Naiads and Dryads that give To the soul of the poet, the dreamer, The visions of fancy that live

In the lives and the language of mortals Unconscious, but sure as the sea, And that make for great losses repayment To wandering singers like me?


Embers, Volume 3. - 2/7

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