Her father was a country judge, and all
His property — a farm and homestead small —
He left to her; and, like her father, she
From court of law is never wholly free.
Like him, in suits she takes supreme delight,
And has one claim for which she still must fight.
Strange is her claim, and such as of it hear
Involuntary smile or drop a tear.
To those who list she tells her piteous tale,
Expecting them her grievance to bewail:
And sympathetic say; "Your wrong is great —
Heavy the cross imposed on you by fate!"
’Tis years since first her sad complaint to lay
Before the councillors she made her way:
Before my garden is my murderous foe,
"The wild stream Körös, who has, long ago,
To rob me of my heritage begun.
And will not cease, I fear, till he has won."
To humor her the council, when they meet,
Resolve to send some officers to greet
The angry stream, and ask it to forbear,
Since when they have of nicknames had their share,
Albeit their eloquence was spent in vain,
The stream was at its wild work soon again.
Then to the county chief judge she doth wend
With a petition which her own hand penned;
Many quaint characters it doth contain.
She deems that thus importance it may gain;
And less the quill’s unaided work prove vain,
To press her work in person she is fain.
Her ancient fur-trimmed cloak doth form her gear,
Before the judge she could not else appear:
A large gold chain adorns her withered neck,
Long elbow gloves her hands and arms bedeck;
Old fashioned courtesy marks her greeting now;
Her mother in such wise did doubtless bow.
"Your Excellency" — then her tears break out;
His Worship feels uneasy, shifts about,
Soothes her, and calls her kindly, "my dear child,"
He must make ending of her anguish wild,
The county her endangered place will buy,
Pay her, and all her loss indemnify.
Miss Agatha springs up — "Of no avail,
My ancient property is not for sale;
No wealth or price for it could make amend;
This little garden is my only friend;
The quiet nursery of my memories dear
I cannot, will not, part with: it is here."
"Each sod endeared to me is in good sooth.
Reminds me of things precarious, of my youth,
Of spring time, such as since I have not seen,
And of the song which only once, I ween,
The nightigale within the heart doth shed —
A living message from my love, long dead,
"By moonlight in my garden, wet with dew,
A rosebush once was planted by us two;
And then he went. At freedom’s call he rose,
Where his grave is to-day — God only knows
Last at Kápolna’s battle he was seen,
Alas! — and yet the rosebush still blooms green."
"I will defend the spot where now it stands:
Give my petition back into my hands.
Straight to the king I now will go,
Who will secure to me my right, I know,
He will command the county to protect,
Me, a poor orphan, and my claims respect."
On autumn’s yellowing leaves the dewdrops play;
Miss Agatha grows older every day;
Scarce in her locks can one dark hair be found,
Where formerly black tresses did abound.
Her once bright eyes to dimness she had cried,
Her trembling hand the pen can hardly guide.
Morose she hath become; she is not seen,
As formerly, oft in her garden green;
With pain alone the ruin she can view
With fear the murderous Körös thrills her through.
Still flows the stream which washeth strife away.
Endangering the rosebush day by day.
On one spring eve, beside her rosebush there,
Yearning she dreameth of the past so fair;
Its scent thoughts of him, who doth await
Their meeting, memory calls up straight
The song of nightingales hoard sweet above
And recollections of her fond true love.
By stealth, her neighbors kind and true unite
Dig up the rosebush by the roots at night;
And, yearly, prompted by sweet charity
Plant it unto her dwelling-place more nigh;
Her many tears have made her blind, I wot;
Gone is the garden — but she sees it not.
A MODERN DELILAH.
Within thy eyes two dazzling diamonds shine,
Flown into one, upon thy face divine
Are night and day, thy form’s a cedar’s like;
But him who sees you, thousand woes will strike.
And mother nature at thy birth had said:
Thou should’st be beautiful, and overspread
With grace thy form. Thy heart and soul, howe’er,
Revolting imprints of the demons wear.
Thou art an angry sea, a holocaust, —
Whom thou allur’st, thou tortur’st, — he is lost,
Bewitchest him with thy most potent art.
Give, murd’rous angel, give me back my heart!
At one time, shadow-like I followed thee,
What cared for stormwinds I, I could but see
Thy beauteous smile, and bravely I became
A human night-moth flitting ’round the flame.
Within me burned the fires of hell, but I
With heart and soul but thee would glorify.
Thou castest me into an icy sea,
To suffer all the more fell misery.
And while I suffered all these direful pains
Thy velvet hand with love to pat me deigns.
Into my trembling heart pour’st venom’s sprays,
A shooting star like I fell ’midst bright blaze.
But thou remain’st above ’midst rosy haze,
Thy fairy self constantly laughs and plays,
New shadows follow thy triumphant train;
Some day, these too, thou wilt have foully slain.
’Midst life and death my humble path I trod;
I do not curse thee, but I pray to God:
Protect, oh God, all mankind, good and true,
Guard all the trembling hearts that might know you.
IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
On mountain top an ancient cloister stood,
And dreary, gloomy were its walls, but still
More so the thoughts the inmates’ hearts did fill.
The walls heard their laments, un-understood;
Naught soothes the pain of their poor brotherhood.
Of all the monks one more disconsolate
Than all, a pale-faced youth, with dreamy eye,
Morose, and always mute, and ever shy,
Silent beneath his self-assumed fate,
Did suffer, but did bravely bear its weight.
On blessed All Saints’ Day, and then alone
There seems some life to come into that place.
The populace around, in search of grace
Come to the lone church, its sins to atone,
And absolution seek before God’s throne.
The sinner, who confesses, can’t be seen,
The holy Pater can not be espied,
They are apart, though almost side by side.
A compact grating’s always found between
The sinner and the priest who lists serene.
Hark! hear the voice! The chapel’s silver bell!
The organ pealeth forth its pious call!
The men and women most devoutly fall
Upon their knees: one thought doth all impel:
Will peace divine henceforth within them dwell!
A lady comes, in deepest mourning she,
And, oh, so sad is her most beauteous eye,
Her whole self does so clearly testify:
No joys she knows, she must unhappy be,
And grief and sorrow her’s in high degree.
Her hair is loose, falls down below her knee,
Within her eye there sits the deepest woe;
Bathed in tears, her face as white as snow.
“Oh. Lord! Oh, God! Oh, hear my earnest plea!
I came here to confess my sins. Hear me!”
“A handsome, noble, manly youth I knew:
Blessed was his soul and blessed his heart of hearts;
A manly man! A master of the arts,
His voice divine, his love all pure and true;
I loved him, too: but, oh! I faithless grew.”
“The youth then disappeared, and heedless, I
Lived day by day and never thought of him;
When lo! one night, his shadow, pale and dim,
Before me stood. I since then vainly try
To disregard his mute, yet plaintive sigh.”
“Most serious his charge, though silent he,
Solemn his look, his bleeding heart he shows.
No flight, which I have tried, will ease my woes,
Where’er I go, but him I hear and see;
Who faithless to her love, a sinner she!”
“Were he alive. I would become his slave,
And is he dead, most solemnly I swear
His grave e’en gladly I would with him share,
Full wormwood is my cup, despair’s my share,
And yet, my misery I try to bear.”
“I know it that the grace divine on High
Forgiveness may grant. I came that He
Who’s infinitely good, make me sin-free!”...
The organ in response doth softly sigh,
And burning tears roll from the lady’s eye.
The kneeling woman sobs, — then calmer grows.
In whispers low she prays, when to her ear:
“God has forgiven your sin!” comes low, but clear.
“What penance dost, thou holy man, impose?”
“’None!”... in beatitude her fine face glows.
And when the pious monks had finished prayer, —
Confession over, — went into their cells,
They saw a sight, to wonder all compels.
One of their brothers sat with death’s cold glare, —
His icy hands were kissed by Lady fair...
THE MOTHER OF MATTHIAS HUNYADI.
Had penned a tender note;
She shed o’er what she wrote.
To her son
Who in Prague
In prison was confined,
To bear hope was designed.
“My dear son,
Do not stir,
Do not attempt to flee.
I will soon
And soon shalt thou be free.”
Thy liberty will buy.
To our home
To my fond heart is nigh!”
“Do not try
My poor, forsaken son.
Thou art lost,
Foul cabal’s plot be done.”
“Let this note
Come to my
Beloved son’s very hand.
Shall learn from
The letter what I planned.”
Applieth for her seal.
To tend with loyal zeal.
“Who to Prague
Note in the shortest space?
Purse of gold
And the horse
Is his, who makes the race.”
On seventh day bring here!”
“To my heart’s
Each day would be a year.”
Just three days
For his reply I need!”
“To my heart’s
It is like three months’ speed.”
Oh, my God!
Why have I
No wings, that I could rise
Where my heart’s
Eager wish, —
The mother’s longing, — flies?
Through the air
A coal-black raven flies.
On the shield
Its painted image lies.
From the clouds, —
From where it seemed, it dwelled, —
And it plucked
From her hands
The note the mother held.
What I wrote,
Recover from the bird!”
To action quick are stirred.
Killed by score
With arrow and with stone!
Not a trace
Of the bird
Which with the note had flown.
Field and wood
Explored are, but in vain!
Lo! a knock
Sounds on her window’s pane.
Who knocks there?
What is it?
It is a raven black.
He has still
My own note;
Brings he another back?
Is the seal!
The lines so smoothly run.
The writing of my son!”
“My curse on thee, home of discord!
No more thy son I’ll be,
I curse thee, for unjust has been
Thy sentence harsh of me.
“These scars, these wounds, heaven and earth
Attest: I had been true.
Thou exil’st me! Revenge is mine!
Thou shalt thy action rue!”
The curses’ thunder ceaseless rolls,
He only stops his flight
At his own country’s border line,
That back to look he might.
Upon his grim and ghastly face
Pernicious vengeance lies,
Malicious joy his eyes betray,
To his lips curses rise.
Behold! a wild hyena he,
See his malignant sneer!
Hear him his native country curse,
Again he retribution swears,
He looks back once again.
Then turns and disappears, as doth
The passing hurricane.
With fury’s wrath an army corps
Of hirelings now appears,
The earth to vibrate scents, it bears
Revenge! Death! on its spears.
A giant knight, — the leader bold, —
Is high at horse before;
His sword is drawn against his land,
Thirsts for his brother’s gore.
Upon the Tiber’s bank they camp,
That corps of mighty size,
And over them, once more he casts
His watchful, eagle eyes.
The morning dawns, the trumpets sound,
The noises louder grow,
Behold! a hoary mother comes
With stately steps and slow.
Around her women, children swarm, —
The din decreases now, —
A proud self-consciousness adorns
Each woman’s candid brow:
The churlish hero totters, pale,
His good old sword lets fall;
And stretching out his hand of nail
“My mother!” he doth call.
The snow-haired woman backwards steps,
The leader stands amazed;
Within his breast, a tempest of
The wildest feelings raised.
“Stop! Sir, I do not know as yet,
Have I to my son come;
Art thou my son?” — thus spoke the dame,
“Or art the foe of land?”
“Tell me, a slave or mother who
Before thee now doth stand,
Is joy my share, or slavery’s yoke,
And curses of my land?”
“Is it for this I’ve lived so long,
My hair’s grown white as snow
To see thee as an exile and
As my own country’s foe?”
“Against the sacred land could’st war,
That bore and nurtured thee,
And could’st forget thy hearth and home
For wounded vanity?”
“And as before proud Rome thou stood’st,
Could’st still be filled with ire.
And to destroy the town be bent,
Its altar’s sacred fire?”
“Gave I no birth, had I no son.
Rome’d not be terrified,
A woman free, in a free land,
Could have contented died!”
“Go, if thou can’st, step o’er this form,
Thy mother’s body ’tis,
Kill me, and conquer then the land,
The famous Rome it is!”
Thus to her son the mother spoke,
Veturia, the old,
The leader, hides the burning tears
Which from the son’s eyes rolled.
“Thou conquer’st, mother! Rome is free!
But thou hast lost thy son!”
Mother, wife and child he kisses
Lovingly, one by one!
He, whom the land and messengers
Of peace could not appease,
Child-like submits, was conquered by
His mother’s tearful pleas.
Ay, Rome was free, the enemy went
Grumblingly home again.
In wroth, howe’er, their softened chief
As sacrifice was slain.
The three men sat together, the squire with portly girth,
A soldier home on furlough, the town clerk full of mirth,
Around the other tables gay peasant lads were found
To quaff the vineyard’s honeyed juice ’midst merry sound.
They had been there, imbibing, since evening vesper time,
The wine-filled bowls ring out the tune of joyous chime;
Not King Matthias was cheered so much on Danube’s shore
As he, the furloughed veteran whom all of them adore.
There were reasons for this, good reason for each cheer,
Of all the heroes brave, John furloughed, was the peer.
Men’s hair stood on the end when list’ning as he told
Of deeds he had performed, — the warrior brave and bold.
And now again — first gulps a mighty wine-filled bowl, —
Great stories of events from his suave lips roll;
Where he had been, what he had seen, what he had done;
The rustics list amazed to yearns by Johnnie spun.
How he whole regiments crushed; yes, he himself, alone!
How he crossed the oceans, knew North and South Poles’ zone;
Once paved his tent with heads of an entire town,
And where the earth doth end, his feet were dangling down!
“All this, howe’er, is naught!” his habit is to say,
And all push nearer still, their eagerness betray.
“What! Naught?” the squire exclaims, — “indeed, this is a lot!
Let’s have a drink! To you!” and each one drinks his pot.
“Not so, my friends, I say” — the funny town clerk cried, —
“The best part he left out, could tell it though with pride:
How he, himself, alone, the great achievement won
To make a prisoner of great Napoleon!”
“Pshaw!” said the furloughed soldier, — “Napoleon the Great!”
His shoulders shrugs, — “he might be that in his own state.
By Jingo! though, he is not that with Magyar lads,
And surely not with us hussars!” off-handed adds.
The furloughed infant’rist here meant himself, of course,
Although in all his life he never sat on horse; —
But he so often spoke of his war-horse, that he
At last believed himself a brave hussar to be.
“Well, once upon a time, — I’ve forgott’n where and
We met him — Nap — with just two hundred thousand men.
We Magyars were just hundred fifty strong, but then
Each one and every one a hussar spick and span.”
The funny town clerk here then sneezed a mighty sneeze,
But John, our veteran, thus went on with his piece:
“Just hundred fifty we, two hundred thousand they;
Can you, dear squire, e’en guess the end of that affray?”
“The end of that affray?” — the squire replies at once, —
“I hope your Captain didn’t fight, he’ couldn’t be such a dunce.”
“Indeed he was no dunce, but bold and brave was he,
Of course we fought, and what a fight! O holy gee!”
“I was first to enter; ’twas a glorious sight:
The heads of thousands falling and thousands put to flight.
The sun stood still to see two hundred thousand men
By hundred fifty conquered and beaten there and then.”
The funny clerk again then sneezed a mighty sneeze,
But our brave John therein not a suggestion sees,
And he goes on: “The French — oh, my! — were on the run,
But up! and after them, each Magyar mother’s son.”
“Among the fugitives their leader I behold,
Sat in a jeweled saddle, the stirrup was of gold, —
I up! and after him; I gave my horse the spur;
O, how he flew! and soon he is my prisoner.”
I grab him by the neck, bring to a close his run,
Tell me, I say to him, are you Napoleon?
The truth’s the truth, says he; the Emperor am I!
My life but spare, brave men, and I will testify
My gratitude with rich reward — ask what you will!
The Emperor of France your wishes will fulfill!
By Jingo! No! says I, as my big fist I clench,
My captain shall decide your fate, you nasty French!”
The funny clerk again then sneezed a mighty sneeze;
But our brave John doesn’t care, goes on with perfect ease:
“I took a hold of him, and on and on we go,
A carriage with six horses meet in the vale below.”
Within the six-in-hand a stately lady sat,
With gems and jewels covered, and diamonds in her hat;
When she beheld me and my charge, she screamed aloud,
For she was Maria Louise, the Empress fair and proud.
Thus, great Napoleon, thus must I thee behold,
A prisoner in chains, who millions controlled!
Who art thou, hero brave, who caught him? What’s thy name?
By Jingo! I replied, John Harry! gracious dame!
“List’ what I say to thee, Sir Knight, so brave and bold”;
And with her beauteous eyes lot of sweet things she told, —
“The deed thou hast performed, until the end of days,
The world shall speak about in most unstinted praise.”
“If thou would’st let him go, I swear by God above
We both shall think of you with our most tender love!”
“By Jingo! gracious dame!” said I, and bent my knee, —
“I know what’s due a lady, — your husband, he is free!”
“For lady fair and maiden sweet the whole-souled knight
Through blazing hell-fire goes in day-time or at night.
Mister Napoleon! The lady saved your life;
Get in, and take your seat, next to your charming wife.”
The funny clerk again then sneezed a mighty sneeze,
But Harry went on talking, fresh as a morning breeze:
“The emp’ror got in, but ere he drove away,
Gave me two golden watches in memory of the day.”
“One of the two, that night, I to my Captain gave,
The other one my Colonel as a gift did crave!
By Jingo! if but one I would have kept, to show!
For now my word to doubt you people might, — I know!”
But they believed it all! The squire with portly girth,
The peasant lads around, the town clerk full of mirth.
The latter sneezed again, and solemnly then said:
“You are the bravest man of whom we ever read!”
THE SORROWING HUSBAND.
At Szatmár Village is an inn,
Fair Mistress Therese lives within.
Her eyes are lustrous, black her hair.
Her form all grace, beyond compare,
She is the fairest of the fair.
But woe! — the truth, — it must be told, —
Though beautiful, she was a scold.
Just now a quarrel she began;
To chide, to brawl, to rail, — it ran
As but an angry woman can.
This time it was the husband who
Upon him self her anger drew.
He meekly sat behind the stove
From whence him with a broomstick drove,
When sudden, in the noisy hum,
A cry is heard: “The Tartars come!”
Though each one trembles, runs, hides, weeps,
Still, our good Mistress Therese keeps
Her courage, goes into the street
For boldly any man to meet,
A splendid weapon is her tongue.
As said before, she’s fair and young,
Just now, more beautiful than e’er,
Her face all rosy from the flare
She had been in; neck, arms bare.
Her heaving breast, her fiery eye
Her usual good looks amplify.
The Tartar comes. His eyes are fire,
And burning with a brute desire
When Mistress Therese he espies
He promptly her as his best prize
To be decides. With no ado
Up comes to her the Tartar foe
And taking hold around her waist,
With one strong pull he had her placed
Beside himself, and then with haste
He into the far distance raced.
Ne’er finer woman his saddle graced
Than now he, drunk with joy, embraced.
The spouse, whose wife had just been stol’n.
Feels, that his eyes with tears are swoll’n;
Looks up the road o’er which they fled.
“Poor Tartar!” is all that he said.
THE SONG OF THE SEWING MACHINE.
No one has painted her; bright glory
Encircleth not her head, yet I believe
She truly is a saint, — her story
A legend is.
A stormy wintry eve
It was, methinks, that Christmas-tide was nigh;
Upon the marble table in my room, where I
My tea partake of, when returning home
Late from the desultory haunts through which I roam;
A note I find; the writing well I know,
Letters of dainty shape and graceful flow;
Each letter seems an arrow fair to be:
Oh, hand that wrote the missive, I bless thee.
I open it; but even if I do not so,
The invitation that it brings I surely know.
“By sacred rights of friendship” — ran the lines,
“Each clause whereof is law, the undersigned opines;”
“We now our will do publish and ordain
As follows here, hoping we do not write in vain,”
Etcetera, and thus did the epistle end:
“To-morrow eve at seven o’clock on us attend.
The menu will include rare venison, steak and wine,
I need not urge you, for you can scarce decline,
Next fricasse with rice — and then — my house rules are improved.
You are allowed to smoke soon as the cloth’s removed.
Be sure to come, let this be understood.
You’ll find here all you wish and even all you could.
Among ourselves we’ll be, almost alone;
No strangers will intrude; those here are all my own,
My husband, certainly, and you, my dearest friend,
The children and Therese and here the list doth end.”
Who could withstand so exquisite a call,
Of which each line such pleasure doth forestall?
And could one possibly not visit those
Who in such cordial mode to entertain propose?
I’ll surely go. why shall I not? but see,
Therese? Therese? I know her not; who can she be?
However I revolve that name within my mind
None such in all my memory’s depths I find.
Of kin she is perhaps, yet this can’t be the case,
In all the family I know not a Therese;
Is she a friend? But even this I doubt;
Only “our own,” she writes; no “stranger” be about.
And “friends” would strangers be, for I alone
The one exception blest and by her known.
But, after all, in these days full of woe,
Many a woman named Therese may come and go.
One of them she may be, perhaps more old
Than I could wish; such thoughts and manifold
Of import like I harbored all throughout
The following day, suppressing not my doubt;
Who can she be? However, soon from me
The veil of secrecy removed will be,
And face to face Therese I sure will see.
And prompt as in a comedy’s last act,
The marriage climax at the end doth come;
So did I, at the hour of seven exact,
In evening dress enter the charming home
Where I had oft enjoyed all things my heart attract.
It is a cosy, tasteful nest;
I know its charming qualities the best;
I even can choose blindly in my mind
The lounge on which most easy rest to find.
I know each nook, and on the mantel-piece
The many little odds and ends one sees.
The Sevres cups, peachblows and bric-a-brac;
In short, I intimately know the home of my friend Jack;
I know it as, beside me, no one can know;
A fairy palace, ’tis, a heavenly home below.
Within, there reigns a rosy fairy queen,
My friend’s dear wife, a beauty to be seen.
I was received as I had been before,
To see Therese, howe’er was yet for me in store.
The lady laughed in playful glee,
“Ah, you are looking for Therese, I see!
Although you even know not who she be.
I did not think that you were such a butterfly.
But, see; behold this bow, this scarf and tie,
This ruching here, these ruffles of fine lace,
Almost invisible to ordinary gaze;
Yet if it were not there ’twould leave an empty space;
These plaits, these loops, this gown — this is Therese!”
But only part of her — only her smallest part;
She has a history, one that must touch the heart,
Grand and sublime, a story which I know
You will write soon; you must not say, ’Oh, no!’
“You’ll gladly write it, since yourself declared to me
That what you write must from life’s models be;
Your model is Therese, well — this is she — ”
This woman’s story, who now through the door
Entered with easy grace — Therese — I knew her not before.
I’ve written down as told in language plain;
Her name I even kept. Therese, it doth remain.
Five orphan children had remained behind
When their dear mother endless rest did find,
After her years of suffering; one alone,
Therese, the oldest, being somewhat grown,
To her it fell to take the others’ care.
At once she started to fulfill her duty’s share;
And heavy though the burden was to bear,
Herself a child, she was a mother; where
The motherless, forsaken children cried,
Her loving care the burning tears soon dried.
She watched with sweet solicitude and love
O’er all the house trusting in God above.
While he, her father, restless labor’s slave.
Came home but seldom to the hearth that gave
No warmth for him since his wife found her grave.
But hardly had the year of mourning passed,
Ere new life reached the house: Therese, aghast,
Foresaw it, and she prayed with zest to God
To punish not with such a cruel rod;
And yet even now a step mother had come:
A widow, handsome gay and frolicsome.
At first she kissed away the children’s tears,
But later she grew heartless and severe,
And spiteful, too: she had children of her own;
No worse or wilder children e’er were known,
Gluttonous, ill-bred boys; lying, deceitful girls:
That was her dowry, and her glossy curls.
And o’er the year was o’er, for mine and thine came ours.
While secretly Therese shed, tears in showers.
The nest grew narrower, all went topsy-turvy,
The step-dame grew each day in deeds more scurvy.
No victor in the conquered enemy’s land
Is as unfeeling as this strange, rude band
Of new-comers to the poor orphans, who
Daily in weakness, meekness, and repression grew.
At first surrendered were the little toys,
To soothe the ire or quell the stranger’s noise;
And then their favorite nook they had to yield;
Inch by inch driven, there was none to shield,
Their rooms and even each downy little bed,
With loving hands made by their mother dead,
With brutish greed, all, all was from them taken;
The orphan children seemed truly God-forsaken.
Then the old oaken wardrobe’s locks were broke,
And sacrilegious hands, ’midst cruel joke,
Took out the wealth of foam like linen,
Jealously guarded and collected by her, when
Amidst her sacred work she died; nothing was spared;
All were besmeared, belittled, with rags compared:
The old silks and satins she had hardly worn
The new mother took out, soon to be torn,
The wedding robe, though old, yet almost new,
The step-dame boldly wore, for well she knew
She need not be afraid: the garment fitted well;
The dead will not return that it was her’s to tell.
And thus things went along, but wherefore dwell
On scenes like this, repulsive and so fell?
It is an ancient song, an old complaint,
Making the sufferers heart-weary and faint.
At evening in the hall, or garret room, —
Hither had driven them their wretched doom, —
The orphans would together come, around
Therese, from whom alone relief they found;
One would her knees, and one her neck embrace,
While one in love would smooth her careworn face;
But all were mute; there are no words, I guess,
Such children’s secret sorrow to express;
The freely flowing tears alone did show
The grievous sufferings they must undergo.
It was a murky, misty autumn eve;
The spider, silence, had commenced to weave
Its cobweb, which at times encloseth all
Within a gloom that even doth appall:
The youngest, then a pretty little blonde,
With sweet blue eyes, bright as a diamond —
Who in her mother’s time had been chief pet,
Reached out with trembling lips and eyes quite wet
Towards Therese, and whispered in her ear:
“Dear sister, once the story I did hear
At midnight she doth come; she lifts her veil —
At midnight she retires — so lovely is the tale —
She kisses all her babes with tender care,
Settles their room and bringeth order there.”
O, sister, during many a night
I watch for mother, hoping that she might
Yet on a midnight visit come to me;
Therese, sweet sister, will this ever be?
“Surely, my dear: she surely comes to you,”
Replied Therese, and to her breast the baby drew.
Then silence reigns. Therese’s breast alone
Doth heave, while in her eye a light unusual shone.
Long since she bore the burden of a thought
Which now the child to ripening action brought
And like a ripe and juicy fruit it fell,
Her trembling lips the following words doth tell:
Hark, my dears; fortune changes, as you know;
Our own affairs to better things may grow;
But one must do his share, must ever try
To change his fate, and not sit idly by.
Therefore, if on some morning when you rise,
And empty is the bed where Therese mostly lies,
And she cannot be found, be not at all in fright:
Mourn not, keep courage, let your hearts be light;
You will then know why I am gone away;
Guarded by prayers my dear ones daily say.
Until it is given me to return one day:
To guard and keep you here, sweet Lizzie, may;
She’ll sew and patch for you, and keep you neat,
And read to you when nightly here you meet;
And wash your things when you are gone to sleep,
And strive as I, the little ones neat to keep.
You, Madge, the smaller ones will teach to read,
And you will all be good, and none must cry or plead;
Yes, promise to be good children when I’m gone.
Therese could not be found at the next day’s dawn.
She boldly started toward the human sea,
Where light and shadow seem as one to be,
Where wilder flow the human passions strong,
Moving remorselessly the human throng
And all of the strifes which to our life belong,
To where the struggle yields melodious strains:
The turmoil and the noise, and joy it gains;
The loneliness, which even to song doth cling, the rue!
So to the capital Therese went: few
Were her small jewels — keepsakes sweet of happier days —
And few the long-kept yellowed fabrics of old lace;
These, all she had, she, needy, went and sold,
Therewith her bare existence to uphold,
To gain a shelter where at least to rest,
To have a crust with which her hunger to arrest.
At a poor teacher’s house she found a room,
Four flights of stairs led to her living tomb
Beneath the roof’s small space so full of gloom.
And there, like her, a swallow built her nest,
To have for a short spring a home wherein to rest:
And when, at last, she had secured her modest bed
Wherein she could lay down her weary head,
She went to look for work, to Golgotha the road
Is not so rough as that whereon she bore her load.
Her heart’s blood freely flowed, each tear
She shed while on her way — burning sincere,
Fell to the ground she trod with hope and fear.
It happened, too, that in the mirror of her eyes
Some people looked in rude and lecherous guise;
It chanced that brutal words fell in her ear;
In silence she passed on and dropped a tear.
Some, pitying, wish alms in her hands to slide —
O, then how rose in might her woman’s pride!
From day to day, from week to week,
Hopelessly she for work did seek.
Each evening, when returning to her room,
The world seemed darker, deeper sunk in gloom,
Before her woe, despair within her soul.
But when deepest was her anguished dole,
Dame Fortune’s eyes shot out a fiery ray
Wherewith to light her rugged, weary way,
And hope unto her sad heard to convey.
She found some work to do. In the town’s heart,
Amidst the capital’s gay, busy mart,
Behind the great show-window’s grand display,
Admiring crowds beleaguered it all day —
A group of pretty maids — some dark, some fair,
Were busily engaged — white slaves indeed they were —
Flirting with passers-by and sewing there.
And in the corner of the store there stood
A little sewing machine, which use none would,
It being known as one too difficult to run;
On this machine Therese her new career begun.
Some kind, good soul, — I have forgotten her name,
And cannot therefore hand it down to fame, —
Taught her to sew upon this small machine;
Soon defter hands than hers were seldom seen,
Since wings controlled the needle, ever since
The sewing machine the world’s approval wins.
It was not industry, it was a great deal more;
A fever ’twas, work’s fever known not heretofore,
That now inspired, enthused her with a fire
Ceaseless to work, of working never to tire,
Waking her from her early morning sleep,
And late at night still at her work to keep.
Labor whereof the human frame breaks down,
And yet by which the soul receives a heavenly crown.
She was not handsome, yet at sixteen years
An ordinary face charming to view appears,
Since ’tis illumined by youth’s gentle mind,
And in expression tender is, and kind.
Even at times, when sorrowful the heart,
To a bewitching smile the lips will part;
This charming beauty born of scent and light
Was lost to her companion’s envious sight,
And because homely they her face did find,
Forgave her that she gentle was and kind.
She went to work, many a week and month,
Thoughts of despair would during labor hunt
Her soul, and chill it, and the distant aim
Still farther off appeared, remote became;
The more she worked, the less she seemed to gain,
What was the use of all her mighty strain,
To suffer patiently, to melt hard fate;
Naught will her grief and sufferings abate.
The pay is small; it barely doth suffice
To yield her the most needful of supplies;
Her brave desire hath carried her so far
To hope she could bring help to those who are
So near her heart; desirous to become
A mother to her little ones at home.
The blind to lead the blind!...
The tears shed when she thought on her lift’s share,
And then the little sewing machine would stop,
The thread become entangled; and as the tears did drop,
The wheel would cease to turn. But when the cloud
Had passed that did her mental sky o’ershroud:
“Foolish Therese, shame on you, dull Therese,” —
She would reproach herself in her own gentle ways —
“Is there not God above you? Why complain?”
And the sewing machine would smoothly run again.
One year hath passed, to happy beings but a dream,
A walk among sweet-scented roses it doth seem
But an endless walk in utter dreariness it is
To him, sore burdened with life’s miseries.
To him, by life’s battle tossed about,
The thorn pricks, and the tangled path doth rout.
And who the burden of life doth bear around
Like the beggar, who ever in his rags is found,
Who wears his rags till they are but a shred,
To him I say, a year is long, and dread.
And weary doth he count the days
Which come and go, but none his woe allays.
But here, I frankly must confess,
This prelude’s somewhat meaningless,
My old and crazy musical instrument,
I feel, on giving inharmonious sounds is bent:
As the host, when asked the value of his wines,
Changes the subject, so the bard; the poet declines
To proceed with his story straightway to the end,
But oft his mind through by-ways off will wend.
But when Therese had been at work a year —
And in this time she shed full many a tear —
And in the scissors’ art and of needles grew
Expert, a better one indeed the shop ne’er knew,
And all that fashion knew as copied or as new
She had acquired, thus she an expert grew
To speak of those unchristian, heathen names
Which best are spoken by the tongues of dames
As Brocade, Tricot, Cheviot and baige,
Or whatever new cloth may be the fashion’s rage,
Then something happened, as it sometimes will,
When, as it were, the tenor quick falls ill,
A chorister his place takes, sings the part;
And in this way first gets an upward start.
And then doth forge ahead and gains great fame.
Many an artist thuswise won his name,
That tales like these are false,
Men know in their own heart.
Susanne, the old forewoman of the shop,
The planet of the place, the brightest star, on top
Of all the rest she was, in fashion’s realm supreme,
One day, the date I mind not, but to scheme,
As I have little doubt, discomfiture to bring
Unto a customer, announced aloud
That if “that Banker’s wife” who was so proud,
Thought she was going to a ball that night
She erred; although it might her pleasure blight,
Yet, Susanne cannot — her head aches her so much —
Try on the dress or give it the last touch.
All those who knew Susanne sighed with sad face,
Pitied that “Banker’s wife” fallen from grace.
They sighed aloud, but secretly felt glad.
Suspecting well that something has gone bad
With old Susanne; she’d go, but is afraid
Some danger scents the talkative old maid,
Since in all likelihood her slanderous tongue
Again as oft before, but where? and when? went wrong.
The end of this — the reader must have guessed —
Was that Therese was in the service pressed,
That she in Susanne’s place was told to go
To try the dress, and, where ’tis needed, sew.
As herald to the graces she was sent.
She, in whose soul pure virgin virtues blent.
Will she her pathway strewn with roses find?
And will the dame to see her be so kind?
Bearing the rustling dress she then set out;
Her mind was filled with many a serious doubt;
Why shall I state not, in a heroine
Such doubts do show but scanty discipline;
She was aroused, and like a child of Eve,
Curious she was experience to receive
Of how the world doth look where all is bright,
And ever seems in revels to delight;
Where naught, it seems, save sunshine has access,
Where silks and satins are the daily dress.
Noiselessly glide her feet across the floor
Covered with rugs unseen by her before,
Softer than moss, from India’s richest store;
And entered then a small and quiet room,
A perfect gem; a sweet-scenting perfume
Pervaded it and greeted her; a place
Full of bright sunshine and of heavenly grace,
So that, o’er whelmed, she stood, with wondering face.
Upon a silken rocking-lounge she saw
A radiant woman who in splendour beamed,
No sphynx, no fairy she; no dream can draw
Such as she was; of each a part she seemed.
It was the banker’s wife; upon her rippling hair
A gold-embroidered little cap shone fair —
A sweet, capricious dainty thing she wore
No other woman dreamed of ere before.
Around her graceful form a wrap of lace
In many folds but partly hid her grace.
It should — but nay! No man should dare to view
The charms round which her wrap she quickly drew.
She saw Therese, and speedier than the thought.
With swiftness and with grace her feet she sought;
Even as a blithesome Bayadere...
When for her lively dance she doth appear,
Or like — but we must tell the truth in prose
“She was a little foolish.” as the saying goes.
“Ah! here’s my dress! But see, where is Susanne?”
“Her nerves!” “Well, well, her nerves! I see we can”
No more have our ’migraine, ’tis no more ’chic’;
The shop girls now have learned from us the trick,
Show me the dress at last! come, show it quick
Heavens! What can this be? Is this thing a dress?
It is a clown’s masquerade costume, I guess.
What mingling of what colors — why, it screams
The rainbow’s every hue was used it seems.
The trimming on the left, and on the right —
This how, this rag, the front, oh, hideous sight!
And here another bow — and then the banker’s wife
She pulled the bow, and tore it off, as if it were
Susanne’s — who dared to have migraine — ay Susanne’s hair.
Therese stood still and gazed with fright aghast,
Over her pale face though the tears rolled fast, —
Sad burning tears, — and, faltering she confessed:
“This is my own, my first attempt! I guessed”
“That I should thus your satisfaction gain,”
“Forgive me, pray! I see I worked in vain!”
The tender pathos wherewith Therese doth plead
Goes to the heart, the banker’s wife can read
In her sad look and in her tearful eye
The truth. “Oh how,” she straight doth cry.
“Could I so cruel and so inconsiderate be!”
And, resting then her eyes with tender care
Upon Therese all trembling feverishly
Doth say — “Let’s try it on, come over there,”
And there before a splendid looking glass
In Venice made, upon the gown they pass!
And full of joy she clapped her tiny hands.
“How nice, bizarre!” her praise has now no ends
“How beautiful, original, how sweet!”
“I never saw a dress with this compete.”
“Oh darling child, this is a work of art!”
Her praises cease, soon with a sudden start
Her joyous features sudden earnest grow
And then with more than usual radiance glow.
“I have offended you!” her bright eyes shone
“Forgive me, dear I’m ready to atone!”
“That your forgiveness fully I may gain”
“Where is that bow? I’ll sew it on again!”
And earnestly as a remorseful sinner
She curls up in a chair; like a beginner
With big, big stitches she tries hard to sew
Into its former place the torn-off bow.
Then suddendly she screams aloud with fear.
“Tis blood!” she cries and in her eye’s a tear
Upon the rosy finger of her hand
A tiny ruby-colored drop doth stand,
While on her snow-white skirt there little stains.
Three ruby dew-drops have filtered from her veins, —
Such drops of blood as from a needle’s prick will flow, —
No more, no less, not dangerous I trow.
Therese, touched to heart, bent over this
And on the bleeding hand she pressed a kiss.
What angels saw this scene in distant heaven,
To them a boundless joy was straightway given.
The “costume” pleased, created a sensation,
And there Therese’s star of fortune rose.
She was the fashion among dames of station.
The Banker’s wife, in confidence told those
Who asked her name, and thus in little time
Her fame was well established: in her prime,
Her name was spoken of at balls and fétes,
In speech of leadies’ “jours” and “tete a-tetes.”
Her name was quoted, value had like gold
Or some good share, which on the “Bourse” is sold.
Therese’s wings of hope now grew anew,
Sorrow, that cruel hawk, had broken them before,
Her faith, her hope grew strong and good and true
As she herself hath been; now joy is at her door
And confidence in self, this wondrous talisman,
Despair and dread drive far off under ban.
Up in the attic where the swallows nest,
In her cold garret-room where she found rest,
Up there, her room assumed a fairer look,
Soon it filled up, the corner and the nook. —
At first a trunk, a bureau and a bed
To articles of ease and comfort led.
A picture here and there, a mirror, blinds of lace —
Though all was plain, they filled with charm the place.
Though modest all, her earning gave it grace!
Then came a thing that seemed with life imbued
Which our grandmothers would with fear have viewed,
Doomed devil’s work or witchcraft dire I ween.
It was, however, but a sewing machine.
That was a most eventful day
Pen cannot tell how blithe and gay
Therese was. Just as the poor peasant feels
Who, ofter abnegating years of toil
At last, with grateful tears and pious, kneels
And thanks his God, his task at length is done
That for his household he a cow hath won,
Which now will help his little ones to feed,
And, when he thinks that he once did despair
In his ambition to at all succeed,
He quickly to his stable doth repair
And pats his prize, mild, big-eyed, white of hair:
Therese now did the same; with joyous mien
She tripped around and ’round her new machine.
She patted it as if it were alive,
She wished it joy, to flourish and to thrive.
She then sat down to try the little thing,
(As a girl would her new pianoforte)
To see what mellow music it will bring,
And when it ran, it seemed to her in short
That a glad “Hallelujah” it doth sing;
A glorious song, praising our time’s achievement
And tearfully, with joy and in bereavement
She leans o’er the machine with tearfilled eyes,
“O, dear, do not forsake me!” then she cried
“Two hands I only have, but we are five,”
“For five I have to work, to labor and to strive!”
A letter then she wrote of which each line
Dictated was by love, pure and divine.
It thus began! “My Dearest Father — — — pray’
And ended: If pleased, Eliza send to me you may.
I’ll have her educated with fond care
I’ll he a mother to her I declare!”
A year from thence she this word wrote again,
And what she wrote caused her but joyous pain,
“Send Madge;” — And when four years had swiftly run
Their course, the task, she proudly had begun
Was well — nigh done. The home hearth motherless
No orphan children sheltered in distress, —
They were provided for. That loving mother may
Now peaceful in her earthly tomb e’er stay!
And now came days more busy than before,
They ran on into years, and still with zeal
She ceaseless worked, now in now out of door,
To warm the nest built for her orphan’s weal,
Herself, alone, a helpless girl, the nest.
Without a mate, even the bird’s gay guest.
Fully enough all day she had to do,
To feed the little ones, to train them too,
To dress them neat, to be their mother true.
But only he can know what is all this
To whom to do it, also, once was bliss.
Who knows how to resign a present’s pleasure,
In view of the uncertain morrow’s treasure,
And to command till’ heart no more to dream
In moonlight nights, of phantasies supreme;
The heart which barters not, but which in time
Will beat aloud, command, and feel sublime,
And to this heart the lark’s song is a bliss
Fills it with longings, yearnings for a kiss:
To do this all as if indeed ’t were not
A sacrifice, but her most natural lot,
To do this — to her glory be it said —
Only a woman has the heart and head!
Thus in prosaic commonplace
Many a year hath run its race.
The little girl a blushing maid had grown,
Also the boys have come to be young men;
Soon will they all from her dear nest have flown,
Poorest Therese, when this occurs, why, then
You will remain behind again alone!
As one by one her loved ones all depart
She feels a chill to creep around her heart;
If all her darlings soon must from her go
On whom shall she her blessings then bestow?
Her hands are faltering, ’tis not loss of strength
The inspiration goes a length.
Many an hour finds her sad and weary
She tries to overcome a feeling very dreary
Alas! she cannot! will she yet be cheery?
She seems to feel, that while she strove for heaven
She lost the earth, and that her youth, now gone
Will by no charm or spell again be given
To her; that life will end as it begun — — —
She seems to feel, that there is still a voice
Within her soul so desolate in hue or shade.
Which if it would break forth, life’s woes would fade!
And which alone can bring the heart such joys
As make to heaven akin this eartly glade.
And secretly she peeps into her looking glass,
To give its answer back is difficult, alas!
“An old maid soon you’ll be!” whispers Therese
“There is no harm!” she thinks, and smoothes her face.
She gently smiles, there is no danger yet,
Her forehead still is smooth and bright her eyes:
And sweet her smile, ah! well! she feels without regret
That she has still a right to long, to dreams and sighs.
And in such gentle, drowsy frame of thought
(A state within which pleasant ’tis to dream.)
A germ to life within her heart was brought
Of a belated love yet pure, supreme.
Of a first love in which midsummer’s heat
With the ethereal charms of gentle spring compete.
Which will not even in winter quite forsake
Not even then when known — — — but a mistake!
Oh even then ’tis sweet for memory’s sake!
One day Madge, exhausted from a race
Came home; she sped along at deerhound’s pace,
(She was that time just fourteen years of age)
This is the time when girls’ minds first engage
In other thoughts than dolls and girlish plays.
To wear when she “comes out” ere many passing days,
A fitting dress with train, in woman’s ways.
“Just think, Therese, ’twas fun I tell you now.
“’I had an accident; I don’t know how
“It happened, but I slipped, fell on the stair —
“I didn’t hurt myself, you needn’t scare, —
“When quickly, just as in the story book,
“A gallant knight appeared who boldly took
“Me round the waist — I’ll show you — just like this
“And cried ’hoop-la’ — there is no great harm done
“And then — and then — — — and then gave me a kiss.”
Here Madge’s tears began to run.
“The brazen impudence! how did he dare?”
“Tell you it’s a shame and I don’t care”
“I’m not a little girl; it was not fair!”
Forgotten long this incident hath been
But one impetuous little head, I ween,
Still thought of it with thoughts serene.
“Therese!” — her sister thus she seeks one day.
Mysteriously a secret to convey,
“I know him now!” she cries, “oh what delight
“I know who saved me then, my gallant knight!”
“Your gallant knight?” “Why, don’t you know?
“The one who caught me when some weeks ago
“I tumbled on the stairs” — “Yes dear Madge well?”
“Well,” proudly Madge goes on, “I came to tell;
“A student, studying medicine and my love,
“He lives in this same house, two floors above,
“Just in the room in which my sweet Therese
“You yourself lived, when poor, in earlier days.”
Therese’s face hearing this piece of news,
Suffused with vivid blush of roseate hues,
Then suddenly she grew most deadly pale
Like one in theft caught, whom no words avail.
Ah, did the memory of days gone by
Thus move Therese and bring tears to her eye?
Or did she ponder that a man lives now
Where her asylum was, and God knows how,
And this man was living in that room
She had once thought to be a living tomb?
Who knows? I only write down what I see;
It is of little import unto me.
No speculations I record, but history.
Therese then took her sister’s curly head,
Laughed, pressed her lovingly but naught she said.
Her mirth seemed bashful and constrained to be
And yet not quite devoid of girlish glee.
And when Madge would recur in joyous chats
To him she now called “knight” and erstwhile “fool”
Therese replied with loving hugs and pats
And blushingly caressed her as a rule.
It happened too that Madge, would often call
Him by his name, “Eugene,” when talking of her fall.
Sometimes the three, when on the stairs or hall
Would meet, — Eugene a man so fair and tall;
Therese and Madge would pass their arms entwined,
And gently bow as courteous he inclined.
No further recognition ’twixt them passed
Just as two ships which o’er the ocean vast
Sail onward, when in middle sea they meet
Each other they majestically greet,
Madge, at such meetings thought it was no harm.
Just as a joke, to pinch Therese’s arm.
And when they reached their rooms Madge laughed in glee
Whereas Therese still, and thoughtful be.
And then again wild little Madge would say,
Half to herself, half for Therese to hear,
“That man above’s a spendthrift in his way
“He spends the oil most lavishly, though dear
“And is the first his nightly lamp to light.”
Therese saw more. She saw that late at night
That lamp burned still and ever was the last
Darkened to be long after midnight passed.
Therese oft thought — “for whom this feverish zeal?”
“For whom this sacrifice — toil day and night?”
Thus she would think, when in the dark she’d steal
To where she could behold his lamp burn bright.
Has he a sister dear, perhaps a mother
Or — and she shivered — is there yet another? —
She is unwilling to pursue this thought
Which naught to her but misery has brought.
And, hiding in her window-bay she sits
Her thought to one, the sweetest, subject flits
And in this thought there is so great a charm
That she feels glad; her heart grows light and warm.
But thus is chanced, on one eventful night
She watched in vain for the familiar light,
The window all the evening dark remained.
Next morning she the awful news obtained
Which filled each loving heart with deepest gloom;
That at the College’s dissecting room
Where science tries all secrets to reveal,
And from dead bodies lessons seeks with zeal,
A youth, of all the students counted best
While at his work — some theory to test —
Had scratched his hand and thus so badly fared
That now of his own life his friends despaired.
Therese read this sad news, in silence lone,
Not even by a sigh or faintest moan
Did she betray what in her heart she felt
How dire a blow to her soul had been dealt!
Oh! what she nursed on was a sacred thought
It had to her the revelation brought
That she so dearly loved, yet cool and calm
She scorned and sought, what most she needed, —
For her bruised heart, in toil and as she sighed balm
She bravely did her work, left naught behind,
In all her agitation seemed serene.
Worked ever at her sewing machine
Until the night came when with weary head
Her little sister Madge had gone to bed.
Quietly then, yea, it would seem
As if she acted in a gentle dream,
She stepped into her window-bay to stare
Up to the unlit, darkened window there,
She looked out through dense vistas of the night
Where a few glimmering stars gleamed far and bright,
Her thoughts, so sorrowful, so full of gloom
Were constantly in yonder upper room,
Where she had erewhile lived and where now he,
If he not at death’s door indeed should be,
Sudden she wakes and rallies now to act
She is resolved to know what is the fact,
And from her lips flows plaintively, yet plain
“I do so want to see him once again!”
She went, and when at midnight she returned.
She seemed o’erjoyed! her eyes new light did glean
For while she had not leave to see Eugene,
She yet was happy, for his life, she learned
Was safe, and, all the danger surely o’er
He soon will be as well as e’er before.
She smilingly above her sister bent
And kissed her tenderly and with content:
Madge in her sleep, returned the loving kiss
While an angelic smile o’erspread her face.
The tears that fell from Therese’ burning eyes
Lit Madge’s cheek as dew on rosebud lies!
Spring, gentle spring had come; Therese
Opened her windows all, the zephyr sways
Delicious scents, the long expected rays
Of the new spring sun filtered in, and shone
With lustre in the rooms Therese had known
So long. A worker’s sanctum it had been,
So bright, so beautiful, so neat, so clean.
On walls and furniture ’its plainly seen
That loving industry hath here a throne.
Upon the virgin bed, full many a dress,
Satins and silks lie heaped in carelessness,
Therese sits by the window and inhales
The balmy air which joyously prevails;
Lost is she now in pleasant reverie —
But not for long doth yield to phantasy.
She wakes, and with decision she begins
Her daily work with needles and with pins.
When all at once, there comes a gentle knock
Upon the door, — she feels a sudden shock, —
And entering, — she thinks she only dreams —
While all her blood flies to her face it seems —
She now beholds, that man so knightly fair
Whose picture she had jealously kept there
Within her breast full many a weary year,
For whom in secret she shed many a tear!
Her love, her pain, her dream and her desire
For whom her soul went out with passionate fire
For him, Eugene, to her the known unknown,
And face to face they stand at last alone!
Therese dares not to raise her eyes
And timid bashfulness she shows likewise
“I came alone,” he slowly then begins.
When soon his courage back again rewins,
“Good morning, Miss Therese; I came alone” —
So tender and so solemn is his tone. —
“I have not anyone for me to plead,
“Till now I could but to my work give heed,
“But I have done! Thank God, I have at last!
“My work complete, and my probation passed!
“Since yesterday my studies ended were,
“As a Physician now I take up daily care,
“I have inherited a small estate
“And though’t is modest and by no means great,
“It is to enough to settle down in life.
“Not far from here, in a small country-town
“I’ve lived there as a boy. — I’ll settle down:
“There I posses a house, a garden of some size,
“It is a perfect lovely little paradise,
“This there I want to take with me my wife.”
Suddenly, from the close-adjoining room
There comes a voice, but how? from whom?
As if it would Eugene to cease command,
And say no more! A dainty hand
Set the machine at work once more, and this
Broke in upon the talk so full of bliss.
It runs so fast and ever faster still
As if it fain would speak, her speech to thrill.
The speech of the machine in yonder room
Interpreted, runs this way, I presume:
“For Heaven’s sake, my sweet Therese, what ails thee?
“Courage, Therese! If all thy courage fails thee?
“What will he think?! Or did’st thou really hope?
“O God, that must not be, do not in darkness grope.
“Look up! But never think of that, it cannot be,
“How could’st thou ever think, Therese, that thou and he —
“Ah no! Oh no! the thought is bliss, but thou art sick,
“The air’s too sultry! close the windows quick.
“The air of gentle spring for thee wont’t do,
“Touched as thou art e’en now with winter’s hue!
“Come, come, collect thyself at once, Therese,
“Thou can’st not show a weakling’s trivial ways,
“It is unworthy of thee, ’t is not fair:
“Poor giddy fool, not even a seat, a chair
“Hast thou yet offered to him, I declare!
“Therese! — She must he deaf and blind I ween!
“She sees, she hears nothing but him — Eugene!”
“Since seven years we have been living here
“Under one roof, our trials were severe,
“I studied hard, you fought life’s battle in a way
“That if a man had done it, the world may
“Have marked him out a hero brave to be.
“While women we admire but silently.
“They are called angels in the holy heaven,
“But here on earth no name to them is given!
“Secretly I have watched with tremulous fear and hope
“The pretty little bud, how it will ope!
“I dared not venture to the floweret nigh,
“Although I pined for it with many a sigh.
“When still too young and full of childish glee,
“I then resolved my wife she yet shall be.
What then, my hope, a youth’s bright golden dream —
“What then I vowed I come now to redeem,
“Oh, dear Therese, oh, crown with bliss my life:
“Give unto me your sister Madge as wife!"
The buzz and whirring; of the quick machine
Came to a sudden stoppage now within;
Therese was scared, she really knew not why.
Was it because all silent grew near by?
A deathly pallor overspread her face,
It seemed that all things whirled round space;
And when at last she raised her eyes that were
Of wont so eloquent, she could but stare.
Her eyes that used to show such ardent glow
Did now but fright and deadly whiteness show.
She hesitates, some word to speak she tries,
She cannot; on her parched lips language dies.
It lasted but a second, sense prevailed;
She tottered to the door and quickly hailed
Her sister to come in; her voice is hoarse,
She looks as if to life had come a corse,
While, as if blind, she stretches forth her hand —
And Madge comes in like spring tide in the land; —
A radiant maiden, beautiful to see,
She blushes deep, as if by love’s decree,
Her eyes betray her love, oh! how they burn,
When to the knightly youth their gaze they turn;
She speaks, her tunes like heavenly accents, and
Her arm around her sister she has wound.
“Therese! Therese!” is all that she can say.
And see — the spell is broken, flown away;
The mother’s love indeed has gained the day!
And sobbingly she draws her to her breast,
And covers her with kisses without rest.
One word repealing often in her ear,
That shows her own resigned love, oh, how clear!
That one word shows how dear and great the price
She now pays as a mother’s sacrifice.
That word is “love!” “Oh, love him, sister, dear — “
“Ay, thou wilt love him, sister!” Freely flows her tear.
THE FIRE IS ALL ABLAZE.
The fire is all ablaze!
Unchecked by tenets foul, the flames leap high,
And higher still! The raging fire has spread,
To cinder and to ash reduced the past, now dead,
“We fanned the cage flames!” is our proud cry,
By murderous dagger struck, though, in the core!
We are alone! What does it signify?
For thousand years his self-same curse we bore.
The sun has gone to rest.
While over us descends the gloom of night
The foul inmates of mouldy caves awake,
A host of darkness doth upon us break.
Home, Nation, Flag, — once more for them we fight.
Each of these names again is but a hope,
And he who dares to ask for his good right:
An outcast mean, and fit for hangman’s rope.
Are we but worthless dogs?
A ragged mob, fit only to be slayed?
Vile murderers, the base dross of the land,
Upon whose brow’s burned shame’s hideous brand?
We must take heed? These words to us conveyed
Familiar sound. And history records
How serfs and feudal slaves, enchained and flayed.
Fell ’neath the cruel blows of savage lords.
The days of old gone by,
Recall them to our memory, that ne’er
Might we forget, ye patriots, how you
Had dealt with us. Our sires enslaved you slew;
The earth that drank their blood, let it now bear
Us witness, that it was no brutal foe
Who plundered us and laid our heartstones bare,
A cruel despot ’t was who wrouht our woe!
It was a ragged mob.
It had been vile and blindly bent its knee,
And trusted you. You loaded yoke on yoke
Upon its neck, its manly spirit broke.
Doltish it kissed the despot’s hand, while he
With scourge and dagger paid the blood — stained
Ravaged its home and stole its liberty!
Wretched indeed who all tins could forget.
How fierce the storm wind blows!
This might he but the battle’s start. It might
E’en be the struggle will sometime seem to be
At end. But no! Fore’er, by fate’s decree
The spirits roused, will carry on the fight.
This epoch is the mother who gave life
To us; the task of centuries we write
Down as our own days task: “War to the knife.”
Naught else is sacred but the people great.
The people’s all! The people is divine!
Woe unto him who dares with fell design
To raise his hand ’gainst man! And be our fate
Curse, prison, bayonet or burning stake.
We say: “Saint are the tics that will create
Concord, of mankind one great family make!”
It is the horny hand.
The thought creating busy human brain
And labor, mighty, vigorous and strong,
Which will sustain the world, to which belong
New worlds to form. Awed indolence in vain
Doth howl, Labor’s alone the right to live;
Crushed might be into dust what the worlds contain,
Labor’s immortal! that is positive.
The fire is all ablaze!
Unchecked by tenets foul, the flames leap high,
And higher still! The raging fire has spread,
To cinder and to ash reduced the past, now dead.
“We fanned the eager flames!” is our proud cry,
By murderous dagger struck though, to the core!
We are alone! What does it signify?
For thousand years this self-same curse we bore.
CHRIST BEFORE PILATE.
He stands erect! The pain of heart divine
In anguish draws the lips to firmly set.
To-day against Him rise with fell design
Who yesterday his path with palms beset.
“Hosanna!” then, — to-day, the “crucify!”
And from the palms, it seems, but thorns had grown;
And “To the cross with Him!” is now the cry!
Ye ragged, wretched mob, with heart of stone.
Behold! his executioners have tied
His hand with coarse, deep-cutting rope. But why?
His hands to raise He never would have tried,
Those soft hands, which His wounds but beautify.
His agonies enunciate His power!
The mob spits in His face, yells and blasphemes.
Alive, He is subdued, but in the hour
Of death He wins! His blood man’s sin redeems.
See! how the herd, the worthless, mean and low
And brutal mob, attacks Him rude and rough.
For one moment might they some pity show?
Oh, no! of woe He has not had enough!
All that in man is vile, — his passions base, —
Greed, envy, hatred, — all against Him press,
While He, — though almost dead, — silently prays,
Forgives their sins, and all of them doth bless.
Accused, defamed and mocked, endureth He
The curses, taunts, and blows which on him rain.
While he, the judge, whose word could make Him free,
Doth wash his hands and unconcerned remain.
In what a heap of sin of earth and hell
They revel in with savage, fiery zeal;
While He, on whom fall curses foul and fell,
Alone, for them, doth with compassion feel.
A woman, too! One of Jerusalem’s
Fair daughters she! To thee, the God ’s unknown;
The brutal blows thy noble heart condemns,
Thou weepest for the suffering man alone.
The tear, which rolleth down thy frightened face
Falls on thy darling, sleeping baby’s breast.
The child, as if it knew, with tender grace
Looks up from his angelic and sweet rest.
Christ looks at him. These are the future’s years
Which He, with eyes victorious beholds!
What here is sin, as hell’s foul work appears:
That look, as mankind all redeemed unfolds!
Love conquered and Love reigns all o’er the world,
The sufferings of all mankind ended sees, . . .
And silenced are the curses at Him hurled:
The cross became the sign of blissful peace!
O, artist great! Who all this in thy dream
Hast seen, — with voiceless brush and color told
To all the world, which holds you in esteem;
Among the greatest masters art enrolled.
Thy glorious work to all the world doth speak,
Swells with enjoyment of millions the heart,
To own the rich treasure all altars seek,
But ours it is, and ours thyself thou art!
I am tempest-tossed upon a bark at sea.
No coward shall my grave behold in me.
I boldly onward press!
He feareth not the depths who dared, as I
Into the heights, up to the sun to fly,
And felt no dizziness.
Up high, up high I’ve been. Then I plunged deep, —
I may be lost, — but my reward I reap.
Success has been my share.
The crown of glory gained is also his
Who of his own force, — though he goes amiss, —
Thinks bold, and dares to dare!
We sat upon the desert island’s sand,
Admired the sea, and thought and planned
And pondered o’er life’s worth,
The yonder shore! Ah, me! that distant shore;
Be there one who it ever will explore,
One who is born of earth?
To fly! — “create something for thee!” — I mused,
What nature and what fate to me refused:
Made me, — of wings a pair.
When I then left the earth, rose to the height,
Triumphal shouts accompany my flight!
Lo! conquered was the air!
I rose high up in air, I yearned and flew,
With keen delight inebriate I grew,
No danger knew, nor fear.
High up in air, sublimer heights to reach!
That I, some day, the son of earth might teach
The secrets of yon sphere!
For daring what no man e’er dared or planned:
The proud, vindictive sun grew angry, and
His deadliest blow dealt,
He shot at me his hottest burning rays,
The air was like one all-consuming blaze,
The wax began to melt.
I fell! — I battled with wind and wave for life,
Ecstatic bliss felt in that very strife,
That fall itself sublime!
The ocean’s deep, — the angry gods, — who cares?
Oblivion come, — I lose, — but he who dares
Has nobly served his time.
The waves roll towards the shore, their mystery
Is told by them to reed, to grass, to tree,
And to the birds betray.
Soon over hill and dale that secret shall be known,
When in man’s heart its atom seed be sown,
It nurtures like sun’s ray.
Then life will spring forth o’er the barren earth,
The thought sublime shall have been given birth,
And men will reach the goal!
There will be those who, fearless, will defy
The gods, will boldly rise to reach the sky,
Although the thunders roll!
The mission of my life has been fulfilled,
The ocean be my grave the fates hath willed;
A mighty rock am I!
The sea shall break its howling waves on me,
All unhurt I remain, complacent see
Its foam rise to the sky!
The angry waves, immersing me, which try
To bury me, e’en they shall testify
I bravely did my share!
No risk or danger could my arm restrain!
The howling of the sea has one refrain:
Ye mortals! ye must dare!
Upon my soft bed’s snow-white linen sheet,
How beautifully sleep my babies sweet!
Your dreams are golden fair?
You’re late my stimulating breast to take,
With foolish hope I wait for you to wake,
I wait in vain, howe’er.
Ah, me! You nevermore shall wake; your sleep
Is more than rest, is more than slumber deep.
I know; — gone’s all my bliss:
To loving smiles with smiles you’ll not reply,
My babbling speech to mimic do not try
The lips, I’d fain to kiss.
How deep their wounds! A smaller one had not
Sufficed to cut their young lives’ tender knot?
Must death’s door be ajar?
Will not a finger e’en the blossom break?
Will not sure death the young dove overtake,
Whose heart brute forces mar?
Oh! let me kiss the bleeding wounds which cry
To heaven! Though dumb they are, they terrify
I’d lave them with my tears.
Cry out, ye open wounds! for vengeance call
Upon the cruel heart, crushing to fall
For having killed my dears!
In vain! In vain! My children rise no more.
Could vengeance cause the flow of guilty gore,
My loved ones would not wake.
The waves on which the heart floats have run dry.
No sea of blood can ’gain revivify;
My heart’s condemned to break.
Dreadful Herodias, if you were bent
To shed the blood of sweet babes, innocent,
You should the sword have felled!
Bloodthirsty brute, you should have come alone.
The children’s sight — e’en from your heart of stone
Would mercy’s spring have welled.
Ah! had you seen my babes! had heard my pleas
As I implored upon my bended knees
The brutish slave you sent!
Crawling in dust, with sobs I’d him entreat:
“Oh, kill them not; they’re mine, these children sweet!”
His heart did not relent!
True, in his eyes I saw a tear to shine,
He faltered, — and I thought it a good sign...
Forgot, he’s but a slave.
If you had shed a tear, you cruel king,
At sight of a poor mother’s suffering,
Their lives you’d surely save.
Daughters of Bethlehem, you who had been
Mothers yourselves, do not, with envy mean,
Look on my doubled woe.
While you had not the right to hope with pride
As Rachel had, I am aware, you cried
For half such grief I know.
Come to to-morrow’s funeral! Let all
Of you upon your dear departed call!
Now I am not afraid.
My pale two babes, — asleep in the arms of God, —
We lay to rest beneath the self-same sod
Where you your offsprings laid.
A cycle’s beauteous spring-time vanished,
A generation of our race is dead,
And buried ’neath the ground!
When Bethlehem’s youth into manhood’s grown.
No birthdays in these two years will be known,
Two years of grief profound!
Hark the complaint! Sterile’s the age’s womb!
But I behold the future’s dawning boom
Which no tyrant can stem.
Of whom the prophets sang and ever sing:
I feel it, He was born. Judaea’s King
In little Bethlehem!
Despite your jealous, fearful, direful vow,
Bloodthirsty Herodias! learn it now:
He is alive to-day!
Your days are o’er. The age is born anew!
Whom you had feared: He lives! you couldn’t subdue
The Word which lives for ay!
I have seen the great world, I have wandered afar,
I have worshipped the southern clime’s beauteous star;
From Tisza’s bright shore I have wandered far forth,
By my spirit of roving sent south and sent north.
At the foot of the Alps, where the rose grows knee-deep,
And the blue sky of Italy never doth weep,
But sweet odors and colors bright fade into naught.
And fly, like the cloudlets on zephyr’s wings caught;
Tossed hither and thither, like chaff o’er the plain,
As to hold it you long, but the longing is vain,
Even thus from my soul, like a dream of the dawn,
Fades this picture so bright, from mem’ry withdrawn.
The years, in their flight, efface as by stealth,
Every trace of its beauty, its splendour and wealth;
Yet sometimes the sight of some tall, barren rock,
The floodgates of memories sad will unlock,
Its crags seem like features that me terrify,
I watch it with dread, reaching up to the sky,
In bleakness so bare, though majestic withal
It stands, and its frowning my soul doth appall,
And concealed at its base, ’neath foliage green,
A part of itself, that broke from it, is seen,
By the force of the storm and by tempest ’twas wrought,
To which once more these storms new life have brought,
They are parts of himself, sweet children, his own,
Yet a different life from his own they have known.
Where saw I that face which haunts, fills my heart?
From marble was’t hewn, a creation of art?
The flashing of the eye, and the majestic pose,
The Titanic genius of Angelo shows.
On his forehead he beareth the imprint of woe,
From his visage of iron his soul we may know.
Does it live, or did fancy the image create,
While I, ’neath Saint Peter’s dome, mighty and great,
Once did stand? No. There I was dreaming again,
A winter morn’s dream, which still I retain.
I know it now, from home did hail that face, —
How could I see it and not sooner trace, —
In cassock dark, the figure gaunt, erect,
Whose every slow movement commandeth respect,
And the boys, we who romped in the street,
With awe avoided him, afraid to greet;
We gathered then and put our heads together,
As sparrows seek the trees in stormy weather.
An hundred years, it seems, upon his shoulders weigh,
Yet proud he walks, as in his manliest day;
A living legend, covered with a shroud
He moved thus among the human crowd,
Full of foreboding, yet ’twas never known,
What in his seeming endless life had grown.
This sage, in fame of greatest learning stood,
To tell though, where acquired, no one could;
And yet ’twas whispered e’en, that learned was he
In holy Cabalah’s dark secrecy;
That he himself, at his own wish could bring
About, that he could live as lives a king;
That he had vowed to be forever poor,
A straw-thatched hut he did as home secure.
He read his books, to synagogue he went,
To worldly things he no attention lent.
He spoke the tongue of races that are dead,
And Syrian and Chaldaic filled his head;
Late into night, and in the early dawn,
Queer hieroglyphics had his attention drawn.
Wisdom and wine, he thinks the worthier far
When ripened both by passing age they are;
Wisdom is One: and faith its foremost claim,
Wisdom is One; Jehovah is his name...
Who sends chastisement to the fourth degree.
That God who saith: “Revenge is my decree!”
That is his God, and like a breath upon a glass,
Or like the burning tears shed by a child, alas!
Thus came and went before his aged eyes
Some generations, and dissolved the ties
That he had known, and all was frail that came,
Steadfast but he and great Jehovah’s name.
Unspeaking, melancholy and morose,
Beneath his eyelids, it seems in deep repose
A world of thought doth lie, a boundless world,
Which storm and lightning flash had oft-times hurled
And tossed about. His fellow-men he shunned;
Indeed, it seemed as if he lived beyond
His days; but when one was about to die, —
Unbid or bid, he promptly came to try
With hope divine to fill the dying soul,
And sacred hymns then from his lips would roll.
The dying man would ope his shaded eye,
And gather strength and faith wherewith to die.
Full many a night no sleep nor rest he had,
But needs must struggle for his daily bread.
O’er parchment leaves he would for hours bend,
And trace thereon the writ, with iron hand;
The holy writ, the testament of old,
He copied carefully, and strong and bold
His letters were, and day and night he wrote
The name of Him, who in his anger smote
Him, who revered not Him, with iron rod,...
The name of Him he loved, Jehovah, God,...
Because all day these letters dead he saw,
The letters dead became for him the law.
Fanatically he, the bygone days
Did wish returned, the awful dark, dread ways
And when on earth Jehovah was — the torch, —
And who profaned Him died by sword or scorch.
The letters dead to him were living law,
To punish swift, the high priest would but draw
His sword; and burned on stake or stoned to death
He who the wrath of God encountereth.
And at this barren rock’s stone feet there grew
A beauteous flower, fair and sweet to view.
The brooklet’s murmur and the zephyr’s sigh
To nourish her, would with each other vie.
The soil was barren, no moisture from above,
Privation, poverty, no parent’s love
Her share, and yet, in spite of all, she grows, —
This child of Job, — as lovely as a rose.
So sweet and pure, a fairy queen she is,
There blend in her in charming harmonies.
Those gifts of heaven which heart and mind most please.
Her form divine, her movement queenly grace,
And radiantly beautiful her face.
Melodious her voice, like silver bell
Which holds the rustic listener in spell
When in the eve he hears the distant knell;
And what she says and what she thinks is bright
As wings of gaudy butterflies, which light
On flowers fair, in dewy morn and night.
Above all these, her eyes, ah, me! those eyes!
It matters nothing how my fish-line tries
To hook the proper word, I’ll not succeed
The superb beauty of those eyes to read;
But I will tell a tale, do you give heed:
The midnight’s depth, the height of mid-day’s sun
Each from the other loving glances won;
They longed to meet, and for each other sighed;
They met, each other loved, and ever bide
Each with the other, and until to-day
They live in bliss: the truth of what I’ve told,
Do Miriam’s flaming, darkling eyes enhold.
The fields and gardens gave her needed food;
Her soul grew in its very solitude,
A kindly nursing which in its due course
Matured her feelings and with hidden force
Her fancy rose. From tattered leaves she found,
She learned to read and write; and held her bound
Full many a night, when she would read by stealth
Each word, each line, each tale, each song; and wealth
Of thought did gain. Her hungry soul did yearn
In learning’s banquet hall to sit and learn;
Her soul with almost holy fire aglow.
To rise above her sphere, so dull and slow,
Aspired; and she did vow to learn, to know;
Her daily life to cast away, not prone
’Fore fate to lie; but make her life her own;
And this she did, more pure her life, more bold
Half dream of hers and half as story told...
And once a book came in her hands, complete, —
Though coverless and gone the title-sheet,
And pity ’twas, the author was unknown.
She read it oft, an hundred times a year,
As if it were a song which to the ear
Melodiously clings, and we repeat,
Because it fills our hearts and souls complete.
She read each play and felt that every role
Had taken hold, and filled her very soul;
Now Juliet, she roamed in love’s estate,
To-morrow moaned o’er Desdemona’s fate:
Then Lady Macbeth, with her blood-stained hands,
Then Imogen, — Cordelia now she stands,
And when the foolish, simple country swain
Would seek with awkward praise her love to gain,
She would the role of Queen Titania play, ...
Thus Miriam, Job’s daughter, lived her day.
In autumn eve, the poplar tree tops sigh,
The swallow soon will flit, soon homeward fly:
To-morrow’s dawn may find unfilled the nest,
Sweet bird, wilt here, thou seek again thy rest?
The window of the straw-thatched but now brightly shines,
The poplar’s trembling crown it illumines,
The poplar’s trembling crown seems golden bright,
Its beauteous hue lends glory to the night.
His hoary head old Job leans on his hands,
Lost in deep thought, though work his care commands;
Before him lies the yellow parchment leaf,
And quill and ink, and yet, some hidden grief
Keeps him from work; he cannot trace his pen,
The very letters dance when now and then
He tries to work; some cloud bedulls his brain;
But as a lion wakening, his mane
Doth toss, so now old Job doth seem to wake;
Into his hand the quill doth firmly take,
And, dipping deep in ink, begins to write,
And what he writes, brings to his soul delight.
It suits his mood, ’tis Moses’ second book
And chapter thirty-two, and he, whose look
At holy writ is frequent, knows how there
’Tis told, the old law-giver was aware,
That while he was with God, on their behalf,
The people made and worshipped the golden calf;
How great his wroth, his sorrow greater still.
And Moses’ song men’s souls must ever thrill.
Joshua said: “Dost, Master, hear the voice
From yonder camp? O’er victories they rejoice.”
The Master said: “It is not so, my son;
’Tis not the joyous voice of victory won
That comes from camp, nor yet defeat’s sad wail,
But other voices reach us from the vale.” ...
And marvel: As these things he now indited,
Something his senses certainly incited;
His ravished ears hear song and shout and hail
As once old Moses heard in ancient tale.
And song and shout and shout and song he hears,
Roused are the spirits of those bygone years,
Yet no, no spirit voices these, ’tis plain,
This music earthly is, this noise, profane,
A band of strolling players at the inn
Have built a tent, and there their plays begin;
The villagers, or all who could but go,
Are there, enjoying this uncommon show.
They cheer and weep, the play has touched their heart,
The play and players gain the praise of art.
This was the voice old Job had heard, and then
He slowly takes again in hand his pen
To write, but lo! he soon again must cease,
It seems his soul to-night can find no peace.
The music dies away, no noise below,
He sees the wraiths of days of long ago
That torture him, the weary, hoary head —
Why are the days gone by not really dead!
He once three manly boys had called his own;
Life took them all, not death; aye, life alone
Robbed him of them; the one who really died,
Alone, lives in his heart with loving pride.
The strife, the times, the change, the very air
Of the to-day, which dawns ere one’s aware,
And which we notice only when their wave
Prevails, and yesterdays are in their grave:
The spirit of the times which ever runs,
Had swallowed, Moloch-like, all his three sons.
No faith, no aim, ideals none, no rite,
The father and the son do now unite;
The holy tie, which with its powers divine
Men in their hearts with loving care enshrine,
The ties of heart and blood, old Job, with scorn
And pride, from his parental heart had torn.
He blessed his son, and for his welfare prayed;
Told him to go. A last farewell him bade!
The boy was only thirteen years of age,
Too young, think you, to enter on life’s stage?
But custom and the law demand it so.
And out into the world the lad did go.
For years he seemed as lost, but once there came
A letter from a place of strangest name:
“Dear father,” — wrote the son, — “here in this land,
The victories of steam are truly grand.”
The father’s answer was one single word:
“Jehovah!” — as the son had often heard.
Another letter came: “Here on the banks
Of the Missouri I, in labor’s ranks
Toil day and night to fell the ancient trees,
And inch by inch new territories seize;
Lay railroad ties, and oft the Indian chase.
At night, to starlit heaven I often gaze,
And think of home when the hyena’s howl
And Indians’ shrieks around our camp who prowl
Keep me awake; but then the amulet,
Dear father, which you gave, I have it yet.”
And then no further news, and years rolled by, ...
The young grew old, the old perforce must die.
The eldest son of Job was long forgot, ...
When to the village came with lively trot
On horse and wheel, as might a king in state,
A train of men; what stir it did create,
The horses, carriages, the lively swarm;
The negro servants in their uniform;
It was a lively, captivating scene.
The like of which the village ne’er had seen.
Before the straw-thatched hut they stopped, behold
Upon the threshold stands erect, though old.
Proud Job; and from a carriage steps a man, —
The southern sun had turned his skin to tan, —
A giant figure, he, a worthy son
Of worthy sire, pleasant to look upon.
A lady, too, alights; a woman fair;
He leads her to his father, standing there.
Old Job outspreads his arms, about to kiss
His long-lost son and daughter, his is bliss!
When sudenly he shrieks and starts aback,
A golden cross hangs on the woman’s neck.
“Apostate, thou!” he cries; “thou’rt not my son!
Apostate, thou! No nearer come! begone!
Ne’er shalt thou o’er my threshold step, swear I,
Jehovah, witness! I my son deny!”
His memories are sad. Beneath their weight
His soul doth rise, as even then, too late ...
The old wound opes and freely bleeds again
As it bled once when first he knew life’s bane.
He sobs and weeps, his heart may almost break,
Most painful are the ways his thoughts do take.
He had, yea, it is true, another son,
A splendid boy. who admiration won
By his bright thought and brain and mind.
He, too, went forth, — and onward, but to find
Himself on paths his sires had never trod;
In plant and stone he sought to find his God.
The highest goals of learning he did gain,
Found everything, but sought a God in vain.
His name and fame shine brightly as a star
Among the great men who immortal are.
Savant, philosopher, known o’er the globe,
Alas! no longer he a son of Job!
And silently a sentient, burning tear
Rolls down his face, so strong and yet austere.
Clod only knows, these tears well from his heart,
The thought for his third, youngest son impart.
He suffered not, that he the world should roam,
He loved this boy the best, kept him at home.
A lively youth, of mischief full and fun,
That kind of boy who’s loved by every one,
The picture of himself while he a boy,
This youngest son of his, his greatest joy.
He was not yet fifteen, ... when lo! the world
Did seem to turn and quake; flags were unfurled,
Thrones shook, and shouts did mark the Bastille’s fall.
With martial noise “To arms!” goes forth the call!
Blood-red the very grass, blood-red the dawn ...
The boy enlists, nor waits till he be drawn.
Beneath a heavy gun he would succumb,
And his the burden was to bear the drum.
And with his drum from field to field he went,
Until at last a bullet his rest sent. ...
The taper’s burning low, and now to bed
He is about to take his weary head;
And as he rises, ’t seems a deeper gloom
Obtains; his own dark shadow fills the room.
“Miriam, my darling child!” he whispers low.
Thou art still mine; the boys, oh, great my woe.
I’ve lost them all! May angels guard thy sleep.
Gabriel. Raphael, o’er thee watch and keep
From thee the evil spirit of the night.
That naught thy golden dream and slumber blight;
“Jehovah, keep my Miriam sweet, secure!”
And then, to still the pain he must endure.
He goes to look upon his child, his own;
And to her room on tip-toe steals; a throne
To him her couch, on which his child inclines!
But, lo! The pale moon only illumines, —
Has he seen right? he stares, — he sees, to-night
An empty couch, — Miriam had taken flight.
And as the stag, who hears the shot and feels
It whistling, grazing past, and knows it deals
A deadly aim; though once that aim was bad.
And suddenly stands still, — with eyes like mad
Looks right and left, and sniffs the air; then he
With sudden leap will fly, but to be free,
Though danger lurks perhaps behind each tree:
Thus acted Job. First stunned, he gasps for breath.
His glaring eyes are shadowed, as by death;
His mind grows blank; he knows not what to do;
The heart is broken of the poor old Jew.
And then in accents slow: “She, too; she, too;
My last and only child is gone from me,
My Miriam is taken by God’s decree.”
And then he sobs, and freely flow his tears.
He weeps as those who stand before friend’s biers;
Not for himself he feels the awful blow,
’Tis for his child his burning tears do flow.
When past the agony of his great woe,
While still convulsed his sturdy, giant frame:
“All gone, all lost, yet I fore’er exclaim:
Steadfast is One! Jehovah is His name!”
And then his window opes. His eye is dry;
But here and there a star is in the sky;
His eagle eye far into night doth spy.
The heavens, it seems, are overcast with clouds,
As if all nature donned funeral shrouds.
As if to list to him had come in crowds;
As if all heaven and earth had come to know
That he, in spite of awful blow and woe,
His ancient faith in Him did not forego!
Then with a voice, which shakes the very walls
Of his small hut, and by its power appalls,
Into the night with trembling voice he calls:
“Lord! God! Thou givest and taketh with thy breath,
Adonai, God! Thine is all life and death!”
THE DEATH OF PAN.
The sunset’s purple ’s set over the boat,
The ocean’s bosom heaves in peaceful sleep.
The playful zephyrs o’er the water float,
And, sportively, the waves in motion keep.
A tepid vapor trembleth in the air,
The pale moon rises in the distant sky,
Her pallid hue veers to fiery flare ...
All nature seems in slumber deep to lie.
But down below,
The sailors, though,
Hold merry feast.
They shout and sing
And long-necked bottles swing.
Capricious fortune tempt with dice,
And, skilfully, throw for the prize.
Fair maidens flit
Around, or sit
Upon their knees
In perfect ease,
Though almost bare
Of things to wear.
Lip and lip meet
In honeyed sweet.
Come, Lesbia, kiss me! Sweet life let us cheer.
Let naught with our ecstatic bliss interfere.
Long life to the fire which within us glows,
The rapture which from the wine-filled goblet grows,
No wine, women, song where the Cocytus flows.
And louder and louder still groweth the roar,
The air’s full of shrieks and the curses they swore;
Then, toasting Tiberius, over the floor —
Their custom demands it, — Caecubum they pour;
A pair of young lovers seek a curtain’s protection,
Escape teasing devils who mock at their affection;
The sensuous Cordax to dance others insist
Their frolicsome gods, full of spirit, assist
Their feast to make merry.
When lo! from somewhere came
A voice, calling aloud the Captain by his name!
“Thamus!” What’s that? Who’s there? This ear of mine
Must be at fault! Of course, the head is full of wine.
But no! I hear the self-same voice a calling loud.
“’Thamus!” Oh, no! To fool, me no one is allowed;
I’ll see to this! He goes up on the deck. The night
Is glorious, and the horizon silver bright.
The waves reflect the slurry splendor of the skies,
Or are the shining lights the Naiad’s laughing eyes?
And far away, as fair one’s sight can soar,
Is soon the darkened outline of Etolia’s shore.
And Thamus looks around. Intensely gazes ’round.
No breath of air, all’s mute! No sight and not a sound.
“I was mistaken!” And he starts to go below,
Where wait Melissa, dice and goblet’s golden flow.
But lo! again, the third time he distinctly hears
“Thamus!” in some mysterious tone to strike his ears.
This is no voice of man, this voice comes from the high!
“Who art thou?” and “What dost thou want?” his eager cry.
And then resounds a voice like mighty trumpets’ blow,
Now even it is heard by the people down below,
And this they hear: Thamus, old sailor of the sea,
Unconsciously to-day a prophet thou shall be.
When to the heights of Palodess your ship be nigh,
“Great Pan is dead!” “Great Pan is dead!” be then thy cry.
The crowd conviving and carousing in the ship
A sudden stop their noise, and mute is every lip.
The fund, the wine, the games, the dance have lost
And Thamus and his men are filled with dire alarm.
When — horror-struck — the heights of Palodess he had
Reached with his ship. “Great Pan is dead! Great
Pan is dead!”
He yelled into the night!
When lo! who ever heard
Such marvelous things? All nature seems to have
Trees, bushes, boughs and stones
Emit heartrending moans,
Soul-stirring sighs and groans.
Convulsively, from surface and the deep
Come sob and cry, all nature seems to weep.
Despair and fear and horror’s spread,
“Great Pan is dead! Great Pan is dead!”
The pipe with which the nymphs he put to flight
Lies prone. Henceforth the gods shall not delight
To play on earth; all will be void and bare,
From hill and dale and grove, from everywhere
The satires, sylphs, the playful Naiads fair,
In every bough some deity then dwelled, —
Have flown! Left dell, spring, grass, as if expelled
By the announcement heard, the news so dread:
Hear ye! Great Pan is dead! Great Pan is dead!
From all of nature now the soul is flown,
Frolicsome gods on earth be no more known.
No thoughtless minds their sportive lives maintain.
Self-consciousness, which dulls the heart, shall reign.
Of sad monotony come now the days!
This, Thamus’s what thy prophecy conveys.
No longer reign the pagan gods, who fled,
Because: “Great Pan is dead! Great Pan is
The sailors hear, — but do not understand, —
“Great Pan is dead!” — dazed, as if in dreams, demand
Who solves this hundred-voiced and boundless woe!
Ye gods! who shape our fates, oh! let us know
What meaneth this all natures’ plight and fright?
Into the gloom we grope in, — send a light!
The forest roars, a cold wind chills the crew,
The black night changes to a grayish hue;
Over the shore a mist descends from high,
A mystic voice then giveth this reply:
Pan and his kin are dead, but God still lives,
Though not in grass, tree, stone: in hearts he gives
To men! The wanton gods are dead! No more
Shall reign the insolence of heretofore.
The sufferers shall henceforth own the earth,
Their flowing tears to sweet bliss shall give birth,
The forest’s mute and gentle solitude
Shall soothe the troubled mourners’ doleful mood.
A pagan’s he who sorrow never knew,
This message comes from Golgotha to you;
From Him who’s merciful, pious and meek,
The world of all the sin to free doth seek.
And from the East, where purple hues are drawn
O’er the horizon by the breaking dawn,
Where into one, it seems, flow earth and sky:
A flaming cross ’s seen shining in the High!