Poetry – THE STREAM

I know a stream
Than which no lovelier flows.
Its banks a-gleam
With yarrow and wild rose,
Singing it goes
And shining through my dream.

Its waters glide
Beneath the basking noon,
A magic tide
That keeps perpetual June.

There the light sleeps
Unstirred by any storm;
The wild mouse creeps
Through tall weeds hushed and warm;
And the shy snipe,
Alighting unafraid;
With sudden pipe
Awakes the dreaming shade.

So long ago!
Still, still my memory hears
Its silver flow
Across the sundering years,—
Its roses glow,
Ah, through what longing tears!

— Charles G. D. Roberts

Poetry – WHEN THE CLOUD COMES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

When the cloud comes down the mountain,
And the rain is loud on the leaves,
And the slim flies gather for shelter
Under my cabin eaves,

Then my heart goes out to earth,
With the swollen brook runs free,
Drinks life with the drenched brown roots,
And climbs with the sap in the tree.

— Charles G. D. Roberts

Poetry – A Smile

Let others cheer the winning man,
There’s one I hold worthwhile;
Tis he who does the best he can,
Then loses with a smile.

— anonymous poem, found in The Book o Virtues, ed. by W. J. Bennett

THE EARTH AGE

On the caves of time
again they draw their lines
and circles. Earthmen. Born to prove
that they can reason and compute
a way to survive.

Now primitives in space,
they hunt with atom spears
the bright eye targets of the night,
and cry their mammoth victories
across the cosmic waste.

There they create anew
high mysteries and truths,
with satellites as shrines, and wire
the electronic brain they use
to command the light.

— Elizabeth Bartlett

O TO BE AN OSTRICH

O TO BE AN OSTRICH

The ostrich
like Shakespeare
believes there is nothing
good or bad
but thinking
makes it so.

All problems
he has found
by taking his head
out of the ground
and looking
for them.

The solving
obviously
is a matter of foot
going faster than thought
to avoid
being caught.

Such logic
of conscience
may well be envied—
for who can dispute
what can not be questioned
or proved?

— Elizabeth Bartlett

THE POPLAR FIELD

The poplars are fell’d, farewell to the shade
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade;
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.

Twelve years have elapsed since I last took a view
Of my favorite field, and the bank where they grew:
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade.

The blackbird has fled to another retreat
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat;
And the scene where his melody charm’d me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie lowly as they,
With a turf on my breast and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

‘Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Short-lived as we are, our enjoyments, I see,
Have a still shorter date, and die sooner than we.

— W. Cowper

SOLITUDE

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade
In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years, slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix’d; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

— A. POPE.

THE BOOK HUNTER

I’ve spent all my money in chasing
For books that are costly and rare;
I’ve made myself bankrupt in tracing
Each prize to its ultimate lair.
And now I’m a ruined collector,
Impoverished, ragged, and thin,
Reduced to a vanishing spectre,
Because of my prodigal sin.

How often I’ve called upon Foley,
The man who’s a friend of the cranks;
Knows books that are witty or holy,
And whether they’re prizes or blanks.
For volumes on paper or vellum
He has a most accurate eye,
And always is willing to sell ’em
To dreamers like me who will buy.

My purse requires fences and hedges,
Alas! it will never stay shut;
My coat-sleeves now have deckle edges,
My hair is unkempt and “uncut.”
My coat is a true first edition,
And rusty from shoulder to waist;
My trousers are out of condition,
Their “colophon” worn and defaced.

My shoes have been long out of fashion,
“Crushed leather” they both seem to be;
My hat is a thing for compassion,
The kind that is labelled “n. d.”
My vest from its binding is broken,
It’s what the French call a relique;
What I think of it cannot be spoken,
Its catalogue mark is “unique.”

I’m a book that is thumbed and untidy,
The only one left of the set;
I’m sure I was issued on Friday,
For fate is unkind to me yet.
My text has been cruelly garbled
By a destiny harder than flint;
But I wait for my grave to be “marbled,”
And then I shall be out of print.

— Arthur Macy

Related References

THERE CAME TO MY WINDOW

There came to my window one morning in Spring
A sweet little Robin; she came there to sing.
The tune that she sang, it was prettier far
Than any I heard on the flute or guitar.

Her wings she was spreading to soar far away,
Then resting a moment seemed sweetly to say:
“Oh happy, how happy the world seems to be!
Awake, Little Girl and be happy with me!”

But just as she finished her beautiful song,
A thoughtless young man with a gun came along.
He killed and he carried my sweet bird away,
She no more will sing at the dawn of the day.

— Anonymous

THE OYSTER

Two halves of an oyster shell, each a shallow cup;
Here once lived an oyster before they ate him up.
Oyster shells are smooth inside; outside very rough;
Very little room to spare, but he had enough.
Bedroom, parlor, kitchen, or cellar there was none;
Just one room in all the house—oysters need but one.
And he was never troubled by wind or rain or snow,
For he had a roof above, another one below.
I wonder if they fried him, or cooked him in a stew,
And sold him at a fair, and passed him off for two.
I wonder if the oysters all have names like us,
And did he have a name like “John” or “Romulus”?
I wonder if his parents wept to see him go;
I wonder who can tell; perhaps the mermaids know.
I wonder if our sleep the most of us would dread,
If we slept like oysters, a million in a bed!

— Arthur Macy

THE FERN SONG

THE FERN SONG

Dance to the beat of the rain, little Fern,
And spread out your palms again,
And say, “Tho’ the Sun
Hath my vesture spun,
He hath labored, alas, in vain,
But for the shade
That the Cloud hath made,
And the gift of the Dew and the Rain.”
Then laugh and upturn
All your fronds, little Fern,
And rejoice in the beat of the rain!

John Bannister Tabb

FRAIDIE-CAT

I shan’t tell you what’s his name:
When we want to play a game,
Always thinks that he’ll be hurt,
Soil his jacket in the dirt,
Tear his trousers, spoil his hat,—
Fraidie-Cat! Fraidie-Cat!

Nothing of the boy in him!
“Dasn’t” try to learn to swim;
Says a cow’ll hook; if she
Looks at him he’ll climb a tree;
“Scart” to death at bee or bat,—
Fraidie-Cat! Fraidie-Cat!

Claims there’re ghosts all snowy white
Wandering around at night
In the attic; wouldn’t go
There for anything, I know;
B’lieve he’d run if you said “Scat!”
Fraidie-Cat! Fraidie-Cat!

–Clinton Scollard

THE LOST DOLL

I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world;
Her cheeks were so red and white, dears,
And her hair was so charmingly curled.
But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
And I cried for her more than a week, dears,
But I never could find where she lay.

I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears,
And her hair not the least bit curled;
Yet for old sakes’ sake, she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world.

— —Charles Kingsley

THE SPIDER AND THE FLY

“Will you walk into my parlor?”
Said a spider to a fly;
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlor
That ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor
Is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things
To show you when you’re there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly,
“To ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair
Can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary
With soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?”
Said the spider to the fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around;
The sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile,
I’ll snugly tuck you in.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly,
“For I’ve often heard it said
They never, never wake again,
Who sleep upon your bed.”

Said the cunning spider to the fly,
“Dear friend, what shall I do
To prove the warm affection
I’ve always felt for you?
I have, within my pantry,
Good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome—
Will you please to take a slice?”
“O no, no,” said the little fly,
“Kind sir, that cannot be;
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry,
And I do not wish to see.”

“Sweet creature,” said the spider,
“You’re witty and you’re wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings,
How brilliant are your eyes.
I have a little looking-glass
Upon my parlor shelf;
If you’ll step in one moment, dear,
You shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said,
“For what you’re pleased to say,
And bidding you good-morning now,
I’ll call another day.”

The spider turned him round about,
And went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly
Would soon be back again;
So he wove a subtle web
In a little corner sly,
And set his table ready
To dine upon the fly.

He went out to his door again,
And merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly,
With pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple,
There’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright,
But mine are dull as lead.”

Alas, alas! how very soon
This silly little fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words,
Came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft,
Then near and nearer drew—
Thought only of her brilliant eyes,
And green and purple hue;
Thought only of her crested head—
Poor foolish thing! At last
Up jumped the cunning spider,
And fiercely held her fast.

—Mary Howitt

THE WORLD’S MUSIC

The world’s a very happy place,
Where every child should dance and sing,
And always have a smiling face,
And never sulk for anything.

I waken when the morning’s come,
And feel the air and light alive
With strange sweet music like the hum
Of bees about their busy hive.

The linnets play among the leaves
At hide-and-seek, and chirp and sing;
While, flashing to and from the eaves,
The swallows twitter on the wing.

The twigs that shake, and boughs that sway;
And tall old trees you could not climb;
And winds that come, but cannot stay,
Are singing gaily all the time.

From dawn to dark the old mill-wheel
Makes music, going round and round;
And dusty-white with flour and meal,
The miller whistles to its sound.

And if you listen to the rain
Where leaves and birds and bees are dumb,
You hear it pattering on the pane
Like Andrew beating on his drum.

The coals beneath the kettle croon,
And clap their hands and dance in glee;
And even the kettle hums a tune
To tell you when it’s time for tea.

The world is such a happy place
That children, whether big or small,
Should always have a smiling face,
And never, never sulk at all.

— Helen Hunt Jackson