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- The White Bees - 6/11 -


"What are you doing there, O man, singing quietly amid all this tumult? This is the time for new inventions, mighty shoutings, and blowings of the trumpet." But he answered, "I am only shepherding my sheep with music."

So he went along his chosen way, keeping his little flock around him; And he paused to listen, now and then, beside the antique fountains, Where the faces of forgotten gods were refreshed with musically falling waters;

Or he sat for a while at the blacksmith's door, and heard the cling-clang of the anvils; Or he rested beneath old steeples full of bells, that showered their chimes upon him; Or he walked along the border of the sea, drink- ing in the long roar of the billows;

Or he sunned himself in the pine-scented ship- yard, amid the tattoo of the mallets; Or he leaned on the rail of the bridge, letting his thoughts flow with the whispering river; He hearkened also to ancient tales, and made them young again with his singing.

Then a flaming arrow of death fell on his flock, and pierced the heart of his dearest! Silent the music now, as the shepherd entered the mystical temple of sorrow: Long he tarried in darkness there: but when he came out he was singing.

And I saw the faces of men and women and children silently turning toward him; The youth setting out on the journey of life, and the old man waiting beside the last mile-stone; The toiler sweating beneath his load; and the happy mother rocking her cradle;

The lonely sailor on far-off seas; and the grey- minded scholar in his book-room; The mill-hand bound to a clacking machine; and the hunter in the forest; And the solitary soul hiding friendless in the wilderness of the city;

Many human faces, full of care and longing, were drawn irresistibly toward him, By the charm of something known to every heart, yet very strange and lovely, And at the sound of that singing wonderfully all their faces were lightened.

"Why do you listen, O you people, to this old and world-worn music? This is not for you, in the splendour of a new age, in the democratic triumph! Listen to the clashing cymbals, the big drums, the brazen trumpets of your poets."

But the people made no answer, following in their hearts the simpler music: For it seemed to them, noise-weary, nothing could be better worth the hearing Than the melodies which brought sweet order into life's confusion.

So the shepherd sang his way along, until he came unto a mountain: And I know not surely whether it was called Parnassus, But he climbed it out of sight, and still I heard the voice of one singing.

THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH

I

BIRTHDAY VERSES

Dear Aldrich, now November's mellow days Have brought another Festa round to you, You can't refuse a loving-cup of praise From friends the fleeting years have bound to you.

Here come your Marjorie Daw, your dear Bad Boy, Prudence, and Judith the Bethulian, And many more, to wish you birthday joy, And sunny hours, and sky caerulean!

Your children all, they hurry to your den, With wreaths of honour they have won for you, To merry-make your threescore years and ten You, old? Why, life has just begun for you!

There's many a reader whom your silver songs And crystal stories cheer in loneliness. What though the newer writers come in throngs? You're sure to keep your charm of only-ness.

You do your work with careful, loving touch,-- An artist to the very core of you,-- you know the magic spell of "not-too-much": We read,--and wish that there was more of you.

And more there is: for while we love your books Because their subtle skill is part of you; We love you better, for our friendship looks Behind them to the human heart of you.

November 24,1906.

II

MEMORIAL SONNET

This is the house where little Aldrich read The early pages of Life's wonder-book: With boyish pleasure, in this ingle-nook He watched the drift-wood fire of Fancy spread Bright colours on the pictures, blue and red: Boy-like he skipped the longer words, and took His happy way, with searching, dreamful look Among the deeper things more simply said.

Then, came his turn to write: and still the flame Of Fancy played through all the tales he told, And still he won the laurelled poet's fame With simple words wrought into rhymes of gold. Look, here's the face to which this house is frame,-- A man too wise to let his heart grow old!

(Dedication of the Aldrich Memorial at Portsmouth, June 11, 1908.)

EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN

Oh, quick to feel the lightest touch Of beauty or of truth, Rich in the thoughtfulness of age, The hopefulness of youth, The courage of the gentle heart, The wisdom of the pure, The strength of finely tempered souls To labour and endure!

The blue of springtime in your eyes Was never quenched by pain; And winter brought your head the crown Of snow without a stain. The poet's mind, the prince's heart, You kept until the end, Nor ever faltered in your work, Nor ever failed a friend.

You followed, through the quest of life, The light that shines above The tumult and the toil of men, And shows us what to love. Right loyal to the best you knew, Reality or dream, You ran the race, you fought the fight, A follower of the Gleam.

We lay upon your well-earned grave The wreath of asphodel, We speak above your peaceful face The tender word Farewell! For well you fare, in God's good care, Somewhere within the blue, And know, to-day, your dearest dreams Are true,--and true,--and true!

(Read at the funeral of Mr. Stedman, January 21, 1908.)

LYRICS

DRAMATIC AND PERSONAL

LATE SPRING

I

Ah, who will tell me, in these leaden days, Why the sweet Spring delays, And where she hides,--the dear desire Of every heart that longs For bloom, and fragrance, and the ruby fire Of maple-buds along the misty hills,


The White Bees - 6/11

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