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Archive for the ‘Poems of Other Poets’ Category

Brittle beauty that nature made so frail,
Whereof the gift is small, and short the season,
Flow’ring today, tomorrow apt to fail,
Fickle treasure, abhorrèd of reason,
Dangerous to deal with, vain, of none avail,
Costly in keeping, passed not worth two peason,
Slippery in sliding as an eelès tail,
Hard to attain, once gotten not geason,
Jewel of jeopardy that peril doth assail,
False and untrue, enticèd oft to treason,
Enemy to youth (that most may I bewail!),
Ah, bitter sweet! infecting as the poison,
Thou farest as fruit that with the frost is taken:
Today ready ripe, tomorrow all too shaken.

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Two pictures hung on the dingy wall
Of a grand old Florentine hall –

One of a child of beauty rare,
With a cherub face and golden hair;
The lovely look of whose radiant eyes
Filled the soul with thoughts of Paradise.

The other was a visage vile
Marked with the lines of lust and guile,
A loathsome being, whose features fell
Brought to the soul weird thoughts of hell.

Side by side in their frames of gold,
Dingy and dusty and cracked and old,
This is the solemn tale they told:

A youthful painter found one day,
In the streets of Rome, a child at play,
And, moved by the beauty it bore,
The heavenly look that its features wore,

On a canvas, radiant and grand,
He painted its face with a master hand.
Year after year on his wall it hung;
‘Twas ever joyful and always young –
Driving away all thoughts of gloom
While the painter toiled in his dingy room.

Like an angel of light it met his gaze,
Bringing him dreams of his boyhood days,
Filling his soul with a sense of praise.

His raven ringlets grew thin and gray,
His young ambition all passed away;
Yet he looked for years in many a place,
To find a contrast to that sweet face.

Through haunts of vice in the night he stayed
To find some ruin that crime had made.
At last in a prison cell he caught
A glimpse of the hideous fiend he sought.

On a canvas weird and wild but grand,
He painted the face with a master hand.

His task was done; ’twas a work sublime –
An angel of joy and a fiend of crime –
A lesson of life from the wrecks of time.

O Crime: with ruin thy road is strewn;
The brightest beauty the world has known
Thy power has wasted, till in the mind
No trace of its presence is left behind.

The loathsome wretch in the dungeon low,
With a face of a fiend and a look of woe,
Ruined by revels of crime and sin,
A pitiful wreck of what might have been,
Hated and shunned, and without a home,
Was the child that played in the streets of Rome.

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The night is full of stars, full of magnificence:
Nightingales hold the wood, and fragrance loads the dark.
Behold, what fires august, what lights eternal! Hark,
What passionate music poured in passionate love’s defence!
Breathe but the wafting wind’s nocturnal frankincense!
Only to feel this night’s great heart, only to mark
The splendours and the glooms, brings back the patriarch,
Who on Chaldean wastes found God through reverence.

Could we but live at will upon this perfect height,
Could we but always keep the passion of this peace,
Could we but face unshamed the look of this pure light,
Could we but win earth’s heart, and give desire release:
Then were we all divine, and then were ours by right
These stars, these nightingales, these scents: then shame would cease.

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A Texas cowboy lay down on a barroom floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more;
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
To dream that he rode on a hell-bound train.

The engine with murderous blood was damp
And was brilliantly lit with a brimstone lamp;
An imp, for fuel, was shoveling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.

The boiler was filled with lager beer
And the devil himself was the engineer;
The passengers were a most motley crew –
Church member, atheist, Gentile, and Jew,

Rich men in broadcloth, beggars in rags,
Handsome young ladies, and withered old hags,
Yellow and black men, red, brown, and white,
All chained together – O God, what a sight!

While the train rushed on at an awful pace –
The sulphurous fumes scorched their hands and face;
Wider and wider the country grew,
As faster and faster the engine flew.

Louder and louder the thunder crashed
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed;
Hotter and hotter the air became
Till the clothes were burned from each quivering frame.

And out of the distance there arose a yell,
“Ha ha,” said the devil, “we’re nearing hell!”
Then oh, how the passengers all shrieked with pain
And begged the devil to stop the train.

But he capered about and danced for glee,
And laughed and joked at their misery.
“My faithful friends, you have done the work
And the devil never can a payday shirk.

“You’ve bullied the weak, you’ve robbed the poor,
The starving brother you’ve turned from the door;
You’ve laid up gold where the canker rust,
And have given free vent to your beastly lust.

“You’ve justice scorned, and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down.
You have drunk, rioted, cheated, plundered, and lied,
And  mocked at God in your hell-born pride.

“You have paid full fare, so I’ll carry you through,
For it’s only right you should have your due.
Why the laborer always expects his hire,
So I’ll land you safe in the lake of fire,

“Where you flesh will waste in the flames that roar,
And my imps torment you forevermore.”
Then the cowboy awoke with an anguished cry,
His clothes wet with sweat and his hair standing high.

Then he prayed as he never had prayed till that hour
To be saved from his sin and the demon’s power;
And his prayers and his vows were not in vain,
For he never rode the hell-bound train.

———————————————————————————

*I must say that one does not become a Christian by
saying a “sinner’s prayer”.  Unfortunately, that is something
from the devil as well.

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For The Meeting Of The Massachusetts
…………….Medical Society, 1859
…….[In honor of Dr. Jacob Bigelow]

‘T is sweet to fight our battles o’er,
And crown with honest praise
The gray old chief, who strikes no more
The blow of better days.

Before the true and trusted sage
With willing hearts we bend,
When years have touched with hallowing age
Our Master, Guide, and Friend.

For all his manhood’s labor past,
For love and faith long tried,
His age is honored to the last,
Though strength and will have died.

But when, untamed by toil and strife,
Full in our front he stands,
The torch of light, the shield of life,
Still lifted in his hands,

 

No temple, though its walls resound

With bursts of ringing cheers,

Can hold the honors that surround

His manhood’s twice-told years!

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I

The first rose on my rose-tree
Budded, bloomed, and shattered,
During sad days when to me
Nothing mattered.

Grief of grief has drained me clean;
Still it seems a pity
No one saw, – it must have been
Very pretty.

II

Let the little birds sing;
Let the little lambs play;
Spring is here; and so ’tis spring; –
But not in the old way!

I recall a place
Where a plum-tree grew;
There you lifted up your face,
And blossoms covered you.

If the little birds sing,
And the little lambs play,
Spring is here; and so ’tis spring  –
But not in the old way!

III

All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree!
Ere spring was going – ah, spring is gone!
And there comes no summer to the like of you and me, –
Blossom time is early, but no fruit sets on.

All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree,
Browned at the edges, turned in a day;
And I would with all my heart they trimmed a mound for me,
And weeds were tall on all the paths that led that way!

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To Christ Our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion kingdom
of daylight’s dauphin, dappledawn-drawn
Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wing, My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

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Borgia, thou once wert almost too august
And high for adoration; now thou’rt dust;
All that remains of thee these plaits unfold,
Calm hair, meandering in pellucid gold.

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Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
Oh, how that glittering taketh me!

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Good folks ever will have their way –
Good folks ever for it must pay.

But we, who are here and everywhere,
The burden of their faults must bear.

We must shoulder others’ shame,
Fight their follies, and take their blame:

Purge the body, and humor the mind;
Doctor the eyes when the soul is blind;

Build the column of health erect
On the quicksands of neglect:

Always shouldering others’ shame –
Bearing their faults and taking the blame!

Deacon Rogers, he came to me;
“Wife is a-goin’ to die,” said he.

“Doctors great, an’ doctors small,
Haven’t improved her any at all.

“Physic and blister, powders and pills,
And nothing sure but the doctors’ bills!

“Twenty women, with remedies new,
Bother my wife the whole day through.

“Sweet as honey, or bitter as gall –
Poor old woman, ,she takes ’em all.

“Sour or sweet, whatever they choose;
Poor old woman, she daren’t refuse.

“So she pleases whoe’er may call,
An’ Death is suited the best of all.

Mrs. Rogers lay in her bed,
Bandaged and blistered from foot to head.

Blistered and bandaged from head to toe,
Mrs. Rogers was very low.

Bottle and saucer, spoon and cup,
On the table stood bravely up;

Physics of high and low degree;
Calomel, catnip, boneset tea;

Everything a body could bear,
Excepting light and water and air.

I opened the blinds; the day was bright,
And God gave Mrs. Rogers some light.

I opened the wind; the day was fair,
And God gave Mrs. Rogers some air.

Bottles and blisters, powders and pills,
Catnip, boneset, sirups, and squills;

Drugs and medicines, high and low,
I threw them as far as I could throw.

“What are you doing?” my patient cried;
“Frightening Death,” I coolly replied.

“You are crazy!” a visitor said:
I flung a bottle at his head.

Deacon Rogers he came to me;
“Wife is a-gettin’ her health,” said he.

“I really think she will worry through;
She scolds me just as she used to do.

“All the people have poohed an’ slurred,
All the neighbors have had their word;

“‘Twere better to perish, some of ’em say,
Than be cured in such an irregular way.”

“Your wife,” said I, “had God’s good care,
And His remedies, light and water and air.

“All of the doctors, beyond a doubt,
Couldn’t have cured Mrs. Rogers without.”

The deacon smiled and bowed his head;
“Then your bill is nothing,” he said.

“God’s be the glory, as you say!
God bless you, Doctor! Good day!  Good day!”

If ever I doctor that woman again,
I’ll give her medicine made by men.

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