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Valentine Poem Collection - 18
When Lincoln Died by Katharine Lee Bates
A five-year old in a Cape Cod village, twenty miles from the rail,
Falmouth, Falmouth, loveliest Falmouth,
Wearing her silvery, pearl-embroidered ocean mist for a veil;
Her sweet God's Acre a windsome garden whither often would weepers bear
Their gifts of flowers, dear dooryard flowers,
To pale stones carved with a ship or anchor, though no mound was molded there;
For many a Falmouth man lay dreaming under seas of dazzling blue
Mid the rosewhite coral, the rosepink coral,
And some in the Arctice ice were shrouded, and the tomb of some known knew.
A five-year old on the side porch holding a fold of her mother's dress,
Mother, Mother, our fair young Mother,
Shaking the breakfast cloth with a flourish of her own gay gallantness.
And across the yard, in her narrow doorway, the neighbor I held in dread,
Venomous neighbor, witch of a neighbor,
Lean and gray, with a furtive pussy that the boys called Copperhead.
Yet I loved her grandson, a pygmy urchin with black eyes glittering sly,
Impish playmate, my earliest playmate,
Whose quick red mouth would snap at and swallow the bewildered buzz of a fly.
She shrilled across: 'They've shot Abe Lincoln, He's dead and I'm glad he's dead.'
Lincoln! Lincoln! Abraham Lincoln!
She stood and laughted, that terrible woman, and never a word God said.
Back into the kitchen my mother staggered, her face all strange and blanched,
Her deep eyes filling, filling and brimming
With tears that the tablecloth kept so sacred from childish weeping stanched.
'I will not believe it. I'll not believe it,' she sobbed till with drooping head
An old sea-captain, a whaler captain
Off the stage-coach swung with a Boston paper that from house to house he read.
I heard it and hid me under the lilacs this mystery to prod.
Lincoln! Lincoln! Abraham Lincoln!
And not one angel to catch the bullet! What had become of God?
A robin byond me hopped and chirruped where the April grasses blew,
As if Lincoln, Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln
Were no more than the worm he tugged at and swallowed. I lamented that long worm, too.
Then our lonely village among the sand dunes with only its one scant store,
Yet part of a nation, a stricken nation,
Took thought how to honor our saint, our martyr, our hero forevermore.
Wonted to grief, the women of Falmouth hung the old church, pulpit and walls,
With a simple mourning, a sacred mourning,
Already steeped in uttermost anguish, hung it with widow's shawls.
The flag on the village green half-masted, bell tolling upon the air,
Lincoln, Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln,
The nation's sorrow I felt my sorrow, for my mother's shawl was there.
= = = = = = = = = =
The Eleventh Book of Aeneis Part 2 by Virgil
The gods have envied me the sweets of life,
My much lov'd country, and my more lov'd wife:
Banish'd from both, I mourn; while in the sky,
Transform'd to birds, my lost companions fly:
Hov'ring about the coasts, they make their moan,
And cuff the cliffs with pinions not their own.
What squalid specters, in the dead of night,
Break my short sleep, and skim before my sight!
I might have promis'd to myself those harms,
Mad as I was, when I, with mortal arms,
Presum'd against immortal pow'rs to move,
And violate with wounds the Queen of Love.
Such arms this hand shall never more employ;
No hate remains with me to ruin'd Troy.
I war not with its dust; nor am I glad
To think of past events, or good or bad.
Your presents I return: whate'er you bring
To buy my friendship, send the Trojan king.
We met in fight; I know him, to my cost:
With what a whirling force his lance he toss'd!
Heav'ns! what a spring was in his arm, to throw!
How high he held his shield, and rose at ev'ry blow!
Had Troy produc'd two more his match in might,
They would have chang'd the fortune of the fight:
Th' invasion of the Greeks had been return'd,
Our empire wasted, and our cities burn'd.
The long defense the Trojan people made,
The war protracted, and the siege delay'd,
Were due to Hector's and this hero's hand:
Both brave alike, and equal in command;
AEneas, not inferior in the field,
In pious reverence to the gods excell'd.
Make peace, ye Latians, and avoid with care
Th' impending dangers of a fatal war.'
He said no more; but, with this cold excuse,
Refus'd th' alliance, and advis'd a truce.'
Thus Venulus concluded his report.
A jarring murmur fill'd the factious court:
As, when a torrent rolls with rapid force,
And dashes o'er the stones that stop the course,
The flood, constrain'd within a scanty space,
Roars horrible along th' uneasy race;
White foam in gath'ring eddies floats around;
The rocky shores rebellow to the sound.
The murmur ceas'd: then from his lofty throne
The king invok'd the gods, and thus begun:
'I wish, ye Latins, what we now debate
Had been resolv'd before it was too late.
Much better had it been for you and me,
Unforc'd by this our last necessity,
To have been earlier wise, than now to call
A council, when the foe surrounds the wall.
O citizens, we wage unequal war,
With men not only Heav'n's peculiar care,
But Heav'n's own race; unconquer'd in the field,
Or, conquer'd, yet unknowing how to yield.
What hopes you had in Diomedes, lay down:
Our hopes must center on ourselves alone.
Yet those how feeble, and, indeed, how vain,
You see too well; nor need my words explain.
Vanquish'd without resource; laid flat by fate;
Factions within, a foe without the gate!
Not but I grant that all perform'd their parts
With manly force, and with undaunted hearts:
With our united strength the war we wag'd;
With equal numbers, equal arms, engag'd.
You see th' event.--Now hear what I propose,
To save our friends, and satisfy our foes.
A tract of land the Latins have possess'd
Along the Tiber, stretching to the west,
Which now Rutulians and Auruncans till,
And their mix'd cattle graze the fruitful hill.
Those mountains fill'd with firs, that lower land,
If you consent, the Trojan shall command,
Call'd into part of what is ours; and there,
On terms agreed, the common country share.
There let 'em build and settle, if they please;
Unless they choose once more to cross the seas,
In search of seats remote from Italy,
And from unwelcome inmates set us free.
Then twice ten galleys let us build with speed,
Or twice as many more, if more they need.
Materials are at hand; a well-grown wood
Runs equal with the margin of the flood:
Let them the number and the form assign;
The care and cost of all the stores be mine.
To treat the peace, a hundred senators
Shall be commission'd hence with ample pow'rs,
With olive crown'd: the presents they shall bear,
A purple robe, a royal iv'ry chair,
And all the marks of sway that Latian monarchs wear,
And sums of gold. Among yourselves debate
This great affair, and save the sinking state.'
Then Drances took the word, who grudg'd, long since,
The rising glories of the Daunian prince.
Factious and rich, bold at the council board,
But cautious in the field, he shunn'd the sword;
A close caballer, and tongue-valiant lord.
Noble his mother was, and near the throne;
But, what his father's parentage, unknown.
He rose, and took th' advantage of the times,
To load young Turnus with invidious crimes.
'Such truths, O king,' said he, 'your words contain,
As strike the sense, and all replies are vain;
Nor are your loyal subjects now to seek
What common needs require, but fear to speak.
Let him give leave of speech, that haughty man,
Whose pride this unauspicious war began;
For whose ambition (let me dare to say,
Fear set apart, tho' death is in my way)
The plains of Latium run with blood around.
So many valiant heroes bite the ground;
Dejected grief in ev'ry face appears;
A town in mourning, and a land in tears;
While he, th' undoubted author of our harms,
The man who menaces the gods with arms,
Yet, after all his boasts, forsook the fight,
And sought his safety in ignoble flight.
Now, best of kings, since you propose to send
Such bounteous presents to your Trojan friend;
Add yet a greater at our joint request,
One which he values more than all the rest:
Give him the fair Lavinia for his bride;
With that alliance let the league be tied,
And for the bleeding land a lasting peace provide.
Let insolence no longer awe the throne;
But, with a father's right, bestow your own.
For this maligner of the general good,
If still we fear his force, he must be woo'd;
His haughty godhead we with pray'rs implore,
Your scepter to release, and our just rights restore.
O cursed cause of all our ills, must we
Wage wars unjust, and fall in fight, for thee!
What right hast thou to rule the Latian state,
And send us out to meet our certain fate?
'T is a destructive war: from Turnus' hand
Our peace and public safety we demand.
Let the fair bride to the brave chief remain;
If not, the peace, without the pledge, is vain.
Turnus, I know you think me not your friend,
Nor will I much with your belief contend:
I beg your greatness not to give the law
In others' realms, but, beaten, to withdraw.
Pity your own, or pity our estate;
Nor twist our fortunes with your sinking fate.
Your interest is, the war should never cease;
But we have felt enough to wish the peace:
A land exhausted to the last remains,
Depopulated towns, and driven plains.
Yet, if desire of fame, and thirst of pow'r,
A beauteous princess, with a crown in dow'r,
So fire your mind, in arms assert your right,
And meet your foe, who dares you to the fight.
Mankind, it seems, is made for you alone;
We, but the slaves who mount you to the throne:
A base ignoble crowd, without a name,
Unwept, unworthy, of the fun'ral flame,
By duty bound to forfeit each his life,
That Turnus may possess a royal wife.
Permit not, mighty man, so mean a crew
Should share such triumphs, and detain from you
The post of honor, your undoubted due.
Rather alone your matchless force employ,
To merit what alone you must enjoy.'
These words, so full of malice mix'd with art,
Inflam'd with rage the youthful hero's heart.
Then, groaning from the bottom of his breast,
He heav'd for wind, and thus his wrath express'd:
'You, Drances, never want a stream of words,
Then, when the public need requires our swords.
First in the council hall to steer the state,
And ever foremost in a tongue-debate,
While our strong walls secure us from the foe,
Ere yet with blood our ditches overflow:
But let the potent orator declaim,
And with the brand of coward blot my name;
Free leave is giv'n him, when his fatal hand
Has cover'd with more corps the sanguine strand,
And high as mine his tow'ring trophies stand.
If any doubt remains, who dares the most,
Let us decide it at the Trojan's cost,
And issue both abreast, where honor calls--
Foes are not far to seek without the walls--
Unless his noisy tongue can only fight,
And feet were giv'n him but to speed his flight.
I beaten from the field? I forc'd away?
Who, but so known a dastard, dares to say?
Had he but ev'n beheld the fight, his eyes
Had witness'd for me what his tongue denies:
What heaps of Trojans by this hand were slain,
And how the bloody Tiber swell'd the main.
All saw, but he, th' Arcadian troops retire
In scatter'd squadrons, and their prince expire.
The giant brothers, in their camp, have found,
I was not forc'd with ease to quit my ground.
Not such the Trojans tried me, when, inclos'd,
I singly their united arms oppos'd:
First forc'd an entrance thro' their thick array;
Then, glutted with their slaughter, freed my way.
'T is a destructive war? So let it be,
But to the Phrygian pirate, and to thee!
Meantime proceed to fill the people's ears
With false reports, their minds with panic fears:
Extol the strength of a twice-conquer'd race;
Our foes encourage, and our friends debase.
Believe thy fables, and the Trojan town
Triumphant stands; the Grecians are o'erthrown;
Suppliant at Hector's feet Achilles lies,
And Diomede from fierce AEneas flies.
Say rapid Aufidus with awful dread
Runs backward from the sea, and hides his head,
When the great Trojan on his bank appears;
For that's as true as thy dissembled fears
Of my revenge. Dismiss that vanity:
Thou, Drances, art below a death from me.
Let that vile soul in that vile body rest;
The lodging is well worthy of the guest.
'Now, royal father, to the present state
Of our affairs, and of this high debate:
If in your arms thus early you diffide,
And think your fortune is already tried;
If one defeat has brought us down so low,
As never more in fields to meet the foe;
Then I conclude for peace: 't is time to treat,
And lie like vassals at the victor's feet.
But, O! if any ancient blood remains,
One drop of all our fathers', in our veins,
That man would I prefer before the rest,
Who dar'd his death with an undaunted breast;
Who comely fell, by no dishonest wound,
To shun that sight, and, dying, gnaw'd the ground.
But, if we still have fresh recruits in store,
If our confederates can afford us more;
If the contended field we bravely fought,
And not a bloodless victory was bought;
Their losses equal'd ours; and, for their slain,
With equal fires they fill'd the shining plain;
Why thus, unforc'd, should we so tamely yield,
And, ere the trumpet sounds, resign the field?
Good unexpected, evils unforeseen,
Appear by turns, as fortune shifts the scene:
Some, rais'd aloft, come tumbling down amain;
Then fall so hard, they bound and rise again.
If Diomede refuse his aid to lend,
The great Messapus yet remains our friend:
Tolumnius, who foretells events, is ours;
Th' Italian chiefs and princes join their pow'rs:
Nor least in number, nor in name the last,
Your own brave subjects have your cause embrac'd
Above the rest, the Volscian Amazon
Contains an army in herself alone,
And heads a squadron, terrible to sight,
With glitt'ring shields, in brazen armor bright.
Yet, if the foe a single fight demand,
And I alone the public peace withstand;
If you consent, he shall not be refus'd,
Nor find a hand to victory unus'd.
This new Achilles, let him take the field,
With fated armor, and Vulcanian shield!
For you, my royal father, and my fame,
I, Turnus, not the least of all my name,
Devote my soul. He calls me hand to hand,
And I alone will answer his demand.
Drances shall rest secure, and neither share
The danger, nor divide the prize of war.'
While they debate, nor these nor those will yield,
AEneas draws his forces to the field,
And moves his camp. The scouts with flying speed
Return, and thro' the frighted city spread
Th' unpleasing news, the Trojans are descried,
In battle marching by the river side,
And bending to the town. They take th' alarm:
Some tremble, some are bold; all in confusion arm.
Th' impetuous youth press forward to the field;
They clash the sword, and clatter on the shield:
The fearful matrons raise a screaming cry;
Old feeble men with fainter groans reply;
A jarring sound results, and mingles in the sky,
Like that of swans remurm'ring to the floods,
Or birds of diff'ring kinds in hollow woods.
Turnus th' occasion takes, and cries aloud:
'Talk on, ye quaint haranguers of the crowd:
Declaim in praise of peace, when danger calls,
And the fierce foes in arms approach the walls.'
He said, and, turning short, with speedy pace,
Casts back a scornful glance, and quits the place:
'Thou, Volusus, the Volscian troops command
To mount; and lead thyself our Ardean band.
= = = = = = = = = =
To Wolcott Balestier by Rudyard Kipling
Beyond the path of the outmost sun through utter darkness hurled --
Further than ever comet flared or vagrant star-dust swirled --
Live such as fought and sailed and ruled and loved and made our world.
They are purged of pride because they died, they know the worth of their bays,
They sit at wine with the Maidens Nine and the Gods of the Elder Days,
It is their will to serve or be still as fitteth our Father's praise.
'Tis theirs to sweep through the ringing deep where Azrael's outposts are,
Or buffet a path through the Pit's red wrath when God goes out to war,
Or hang with the reckless Seraphim on the rein of a red-maned star.
They take their mirth in the joy of the Earth --
they dare not grieve for her pain --
They know of toil and the end of toil, they know God's law is plain,
So they whistle the Devil to make them sport who know that Sin is vain.
And ofttimes cometh our wise Lord God, master of every trade,
And tells them tales of His daily toil, of Edens newly made;
And they rise to their feet as He passes by, gentlemen unafraid.
To these who are cleansed of base Desire, Sorrow and Lust and Shame --
Gods for they knew the hearts of men, men for they stooped to Fame,
Borne on the breath that men call Death, my brother's spirit came.
He scarce had need to doff his pride or slough the dross of Earth --
E'en as he trod that day to God so walked he from his birth,
In simpleness and gentleness and honour and clean mirth.
So cup to lip in fellowship they gave him welcome high
And made him place at the banquet board -- the Strong Men ranged thereby,
Who had done his work and held his peace and had no fear to die.
Beyond the loom of the last lone star, through open darkness hurled,
Further than rebel comet dared or hiving star-swarm swirled,
Sits he with those that praise our God for that they served His world
= = = = = = = = = =
Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse by Matthew Arnold
Through Alpine meadows soft-suffused
With rain, where thick the crocus blows,
Past the dark forges long disused,
The mule-track from Saint Laurent goes.
The bridge is cross'd, and slow we ride,
Through forest, up the mountain-side.
The autumnal evening darkens round,
The wind is up, and drives the rain;
While, hark! far down, with strangled sound
Doth the Dead Guier's stream complain,
Where that wet smoke, among the woods,
Over his boiling cauldron broods.
Swift rush the spectral vapours white
Past limestone scars with ragged pines,
Showing--then blotting from our sight!--
Halt--through the cloud-drift something shines!
High in the valley, wet and drear,
The huts of Courrerie appear.
Strike leftward! cries our guide; and higher
Mounts up the stony forest-way.
At last the encircling trees retire;
Look! through the showery twilight grey
What pointed roofs are these advance?--
A palace of the Kings of France?
Approach, for what we seek is here!
Alight, and sparely sup, and wait
For rest in this outbuilding near;
Then cross the sward and reach that gate.
Knock; pass the wicket! Thou art come
To the Carthusians' world-famed home.
The silent courts, where night and day
Into their stone-carved basins cold
The splashing icy fountains play--
The humid corridors behold!
Where, ghostlike in the deepening night,
Cowl'd forms brush by in gleaming white.
The chapel, where no organ's peal
Invests the stern and naked prayer--
With penitential cries they kneel
And wrestle; rising then, with bare
And white uplifted faces stand,
Passing the Host from hand to hand;
Each takes, and then his visage wan
Is buried in his cowl once more.
The cells!--the suffering Son of Man
Upon the wall--the knee-worn floor--
And where they sleep, that wooden bed,
Which shall their coffin be, when dead!
The library, where tract and tome
Not to feed priestly pride are there,
To hymn the conquering march of Rome,
Nor yet to amuse, as ours are!
They paint of souls the inner strife,
Their drops of blood, their death in life.
The garden, overgrown--yet mild,
See, fragrant herbs are flowering there!
Strong children of the Alpine wild
Whose culture is the brethren's care;
Of human tasks their only one,
And cheerful works beneath the sun.
Those halls, too, destined to contain
Each its own pilgrim-host of old,
From England, Germany, or Spain--
All are before me! I behold
The House, the Brotherhood austere!
--And what am I, that I am here?
For rigorous teachers seized my youth,
And purged its faith, and trimm'd its fire,
Show'd me the high, white star of Truth,
There bade me gaze, and there aspire.
Even now their whispers pierce the gloom:
What dost thou in this living tomb?
Forgive me, masters of the mind!
At whose behest I long ago
So much unlearnt, so much resign'd--
I come not here to be your foe!
I seek these anchorites, not in ruth,
To curse and to deny your truth;
Not as their friend, or child, I speak!
But as, on some far northern strand,
Thinking of his own Gods, a Greek
In pity and mournful awe might stand
Before some fallen Runic stone--
For both were faiths, and both are gone.
Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born,
With nowhere yet to rest my head,
Like these, on earth I wait forlorn.
Their faith, my tears, the world deride--
I come to shed them at their side.
Oh, hide me in your gloom profound,
Ye solemn seats of holy pain!
Take me, cowl'd forms, and fence me round,
Till I possess my soul again;
Till free my thoughts before me roll,
Not chafed by hourly false control!
For the world cries your faith is now
But a dead time's exploded dream;
My melancholy, sciolists say,
Is a pass'd mode, an outworn theme--
As if the world had ever had
A faith, or sciolists been sad!
Ah, if it be pass'd, take away,
At least, the restlessness, the pain;
Be man henceforth no more a prey
To these out-dated stings again!
The nobleness of grief is gone
Ah, leave us not the fret alone!
But--if you cannot give us ease--
Last of the race of them who grieve
Here leave us to die out with these
Last of the people who believe!
Silent, while years engrave the brow;
Silent--the best are silent now.
Achilles ponders in his tent,
The kings of modern thought are dumb,
Silent they are though not content,
And wait to see the future come.
They have the grief men had of yore,
But they contend and cry no more.
Our fathers water'd with their tears
This sea of time whereon we sail,
Their voices were in all men's ears
We pass'd within their puissant hail.
Still the same ocean round us raves,
But we stand mute, and watch the waves.
For what avail'd it, all the noise
And outcry of the former men?--
Say, have their sons achieved more joys,
Say, is life lighter now than then?
The sufferers died, they left their pain--
The pangs which tortured them remain.
What helps it now, that Byron bore,
With haughty scorn which mock'd the smart,
Through Europe to the Ętolian shore
The pageant of his bleeding heart?
That thousands counted every groan,
And Europe made his woe her own?
What boots it, Shelley! that the breeze
Carried thy lovely wail away,
Musical through Italian trees
Which fringe thy soft blue Spezzian bay?
Inheritors of thy distress
Have restless hearts one throb the less?
Or are we easier, to have read,
O Obermann! the sad, stern page,
Which tells us how thou hidd'st thy head
From the fierce tempest of thine age
In the lone brakes of Fontainebleau,
Or chalets near the Alpine snow?
Ye slumber in your silent grave!--
The world, which for an idle day
Grace to your mood of sadness gave,
Long since hath flung her weeds away.
The eternal trifler breaks your spell;
But we--we learned your lore too well!
Years hence, perhaps, may dawn an age,
More fortunate, alas! than we,
Which without hardness will be sage,
And gay without frivolity.
Sons of the world, oh, speed those years;
But, while we wait, allow our tears!
Allow them! We admire with awe
The exulting thunder of your race;
You give the universe your law,
You triumph over time and space!
Your pride of life, your tireless powers,
We laud them, but they are not ours.
We are like children rear'd in shade
Beneath some old-world abbey wall,
Forgotten in a forest-glade,
And secret from the eyes of all.
Deep, deep the greenwood round them waves,
Their abbey, and its close of graves!
But, where the road runs near the stream,
Oft through the trees they catch a glance
Of passing troops in the sun's beam--
Pennon, and plume, and flashing lance!
Forth to the world those soldiers fare,
To life, to cities, and to war!
And through the wood, another way,
Faint bugle-notes from far are borne,
Where hunters gather, staghounds bay,
Round some fair forest-lodge at morn.
Gay dames are there, in sylvan green;
Laughter and cries--those notes between!
The banners flashing through the trees
Make their blood dance and chain their eyes;
That bugle-music on the breeze
Arrests them with a charm'd surprise.
Banner by turns and bugle woo:
Ye shy recluses, follow too!
O children, what do ye reply?--
'Action and pleasure, will ye roam
Through these secluded dells to cry
And call us?--but too late ye come!
Too late for us your call ye blow,
Whose bent was taken long ago.
'Long since we pace this shadow'd nave;
We watch those yellow tapers shine,
Emblems of hope over the grave,
In the high altar's depth divine;
The organ carries to our ear
Its accents of another sphere.
'Fenced early in this cloistral round
Of reverie, of shade, of prayer,
How should we grow in other ground?
How can we flower in foreign air?
--Pass, banners, pass, and bugles, cease;
And leave our desert to its peace!'
= = = = = = = = = =
XLI Through Death To Love by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Like labour-laden moonclouds faint to flee
From winds that sweep the winter-bitten wold,--
Like multiform circumfluence manifold
Of night's flood-tide,--like terrors that agree
Of hoarse-tongued fire and inarticulate sea,--
Even such, within some glass dimm'd by our breath,
Our hearts discern wild images of Death,
Shadows and shoals that edge eternity.
Howbeit athwart Death's imminent shade doth soar
One Power, than flow of stream or flight of dove
Sweeter to glide around, to brood above.
Tell me, my heart,--what angel-greeted door
Or threshold of wing-winnow'd threshing-floor
Hath guest fire-fledg'd as thine, whose lord is Love?
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