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Posts Tagged ‘James Whitcomb Riley’

The sea was breaking at my feet,
And looking out across the tide,
Where placid waves and heaven meet,
I thought me of the Other Side.

For on the beach on which I stood
Were wastes of sands, and wash, and roar,
Low clouds, and gloom, and solitude,
And wrecks, and ruins – nothing more.

“O, tell me if beyond the sea
A heavenly port there is!” I cried,
And back the echoes laughingly
“There is! there is!” replied.

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circus

Oh! the Circus-Day Parade! How the bugles played and played!
And how the glossy horses tossed their flossy manes and neighed,
As the rattle and the rhyme of the tenor-drummer’s time
Filled all the hungry hearts of us with melody sublime!

How the grand band-wagon shone with a splendor all its own,
And glittered with a glory that our dreams had never known!
And how the boys behind, high and low of every kind,
Marched in unconscious capture, with a rapture undefined!

How the horsemen, two and two, with their plumes of white and blue
And crimson, gold and purple, nodding by at me and you,
Waved the banners that they bore, as the knights in days of yore,
Till our glad eyes gleamed and glistened like the spangles that they wore!

How the graceless-graceful stride of the elephant was eyed,
And the capers of the little horse that cantered at his side!
How the shambling camels, tame to the plaudits of their fame,
With listless eyes came silent, masticating as they came.

How the cages jolted past, with each wagon battened fast,
And the mystery within it only hinted of at last
From the little grated square in the rear, and nosing there
The snout of some strange animal that sniffed the outer air!

And, last of all, The Clown, making mirth for all the town,
With his lips curved ever upward and his eyebrows ever down,
And his chief attention paid to the little mule that played
A tattoo on the dashboard with his heels, in the Parade.

Oh! the Circus-Day Parade! How the bugles played and played!
And how the glossy horses tossed their flossy manes and neighed,
As the rattle and the rhyme of the tenor-drummer’s time
Filled all the hungry hearts of us with melody sublime!

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The same old story told again–
The maiden droops her head,
The ripening glow of her crimson cheek
Is answering in her stead.
The pleading tone of a trembling voice
Is telling her the way
He loved her when his heart was young
In Youth’s sunshiny day:
The trembling tongue, the longing tone,
Imploringly ask why
They can not be as happy now
As in the days gone by.
And two more hearts, tumultuous
With overflowing joy,
Are dancing to the music
Which that dear, provoking boy
Is twanging on his bowstring,
As, fluttering his wings,
He sends his love-charged arrows
While merrily be sings:
‘Ho! ho! my dainty maiden,
It surely can not be
You are thinking you are master
Of your heart, when it is me.’
And another gleaming arrow
Does the little god’s behest,
And the dainty little maiden
Falls upon her lover’s breast.
‘The same old story told again,’
And listened o’er and o’er,
Will still be new, and pleasing, too,
Till ‘Time shall be no more.’

 

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Who bides his time, and day by day
Faces defeat full patiently,
And lifts a mirthful roundelay,
However poor his fortunes be, –
He will not fail in any qualm
Of poverty – the paltry dime
It will grow golden in his palm,
Who bides his time. 

Who bides his time – he tastes the sweet
Of honey in the saltest tear;
And though he fares with slowest feet,
Joy runs to meet him, drawing near:
The birds are heralds of his cause;
And, like a never-ending rhyme,
The roadsides bloom in his applause,
Who bides his time. 

Who bides his time, and fevers not
In the hot race that none achieves,
Shall wear cool-wreathen laurel, wrought
With crimson berries in the leaves;
And he shall reign a goodly king,
And sway his hand o’er every clime,
With peace writ on his signet-ring,
Who bides his time.

 

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I buried my first womern
In the spring; and in the fall
I was married to my second,
And hain’t settled yit at all! –
Fer I’m allus thinkin’ – thinkin’
Of the first one’s peaceful ways,
A-bilin’ soap and singin’
Of the Lord’s amazin’ grace.

And I’m thinkin’ of her, constant,
Dyin’ carpet-chain and stuff,
And a-makin’ up rag carpets,
When the floor was good enough!
And I mind her he’p a-feedin’
And I riccollect her now
A-drappin’ corn, and keepin’
Clos’t behind me and the plow!

And I’m allus thinkin’ of her
Reddin’ up around the house;
Er cookin’ fer the farm-hands;
Er a-drivin’ up the cows, –
And there she lays out yander
By the lower medder fence,
Where the cows was barely grazin’,
And they’re usin’ ever sence.

And when I look acrost there –
Say it’s when the clover’s ripe,
And I’m settin’, in the evenin’,
On the porch here, with my pipe,
And the other’n hollers “Henry!” –
W’y they ain’t no sadder thing
Than to think of my first womern
And her funeral last spring
Was a year ago –

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(Written as a joke and ascribed to a very
practical business man, Amos J. Walker)
 

Master of masters in the days of yore,
When art met insult, with no law’s redress;
When Law itself insulted Righteousness,
And ignorance thine own scholastic lore,
And thou thine own judicial office more, –
What master living now canst love thee less,
Seeing thou didst thy greatest art repress
And leave the years in riches to restore
To us, thy long neglectors. Yield us grace
To make becoming recompense, and dawn
On us thy poet-smile; nor let us trace,
In fancy, where the old-world myths have gone,
The shade of Shakespeare, with averted face,
Withdrawn to uttermost oblivion.

 

 

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To be a wholly worthy man,
As you, my boy, would like to be, –
This is to show you how you can –
This simple recipe: –

Be honest – both in word and act,
Be strictly truthful through and through:
Fact can not fail, – You stick to fact,
And fact will stick to you.

Be clean – outside and in, and sweep
Both hearth and heart and hold them bright;
Wear snowy linen – aye, and keep
Your conscience snowy-white.

Do right, your utmost – good must come
To you who do your level-best –
Your very hopes will help you some,
And work will do the rest.

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benjamin-harrison-2

(on the unveiling of his monument at Indianapolis –
October 27, 1908)

As tangible a form in History
The Spirit of this man stands forth as here
He towers in deathless sculpture, high and clear
Against the bright sky of his destiny.
Sprung of our oldest, noblest ancestry,
His pride of birth, a lofty as sincere,
Held kith and kin, as Country, ever dear –
Such was his sacred faith in you and me.
Thus, natively, from youth his work was one
Unselfish service in behalf of all –
Home, friends and sharers of his toil and stress;
Ay, loving all men and despising none,
And swift to answer every righteous call,
His life was one long deed of worthiness. 

The voice of Duty’s faintest whisper found
Him as alert as at her battle-cry –
When awful War’s battalions thundered by,
High o’er the havoc still he heard the sound
Of mothers’ prayers and pleadings all around;
And ever the despairing sob and sigh
Of stricken wives and orphan children’s cry
Made all our Land thrice consecrated ground.
So rang his “forward!” and so swept his sword –
On! – on! – till from the fire-and-cloud once more
Our proud Flag lifted in the glad sunlight
As though the very Ensign of the Lord
Unfurled in token that the strife was o’er,
And victory – as ever – with the right.

——————————————————

Benjamin Harris was the 23rd president of the United States.

 

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……When Age comes on! –
The deepening dusk is where the dawn
Once glittered splendid, and the dew,
In honey-drips from red rose-lips,
Was kissed away by me and you. –
And now across the frosty lawn
Black footprints trail, and Age comes on –
……And Age comes on!
And biting wild-winds whistle through
Our tattered hopes – and Age comes on!
……When Age comes on! –
O tide of raptures, long withdrawn,
Flow back in summer floods, and fling
Here at our feet our childhood sweet,
And all the songs we used to sing! …
Old loves, old friends – all dead and gone –
Our old faith lost – and Age comes on –
……And Age comes on!
Poor hearts! have we not anything
But longings left when Age comes on?

 

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Supinely we lie in the grove’s shady greenery,
Gazing, all dreamy-eyed, up through the trees, –
And as to the sight is the heavenly scenery,
So to the hearing the sigh of the breeze. 

We catch but vague rifts of the blue through the wavering
Boughs of the maples; and, alike undefined,
The whispers and lisps of the leaves, faint and quavering,
Meaningless falter and fall on the mind. 

The vine, with its beauty of blossom, goes rioting
Up by the casement, as sweet to the eye
As the trill of the robin is restful and quieting
Heard in a drowse with the dawn in the sky. 

And yet we yearn on to learn more of the mystery –
We see and we hear, but forever remain
Mute, blind and deaf to the ultimate history
Born of a rose or a patter of rain.

 

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