BOHEMIA, o'er thy unatlassed borders
How many cross, with half-reluctant feet,
And unformed fears of dangers and disorders,
To find delights, more wholesome and more sweet
Than ever yet were known to the "elite."
Herein can dwell no pretence and no seeming;
No stilted pride thrives in this atmosphere,
Which stimulates a tendency to dreaming.
The shores of the ideal world, from here,
Seem sometimes to be tangible and near.
We have no use for formal codes of fashion;
No "Etiquette f Courts" we emulate;
We know it needs sincerity and passion
To carry out the plans of God, or fate;
We do not strive to seem inanimate.
We call no time lost that we give to pleasure;
Life's hurrying river speeds to Death's great sea;
We cast out no vain plummet-line to measure
Imagined depths of that unknown To-Be,
But grasp the Now, and fill it full of glee.
All creeds have room here, and we all together
Devoutly worship at Art's sacred shrine;
But he who dwells once in thy golden weather,
Bohemia--sweet, lovely land of mine--
Can find no joy outside thy border-line.
BECAUSE of the fullness of what I had,
All that I have seems poor and vain.
If I had not been happy, I were not sad--
Tho' my salt is savorless, why complain?
From the ripe perfection of what was mine,
All that is mine seems worse than naught;
Yet I know, as I sit in the dark and pine,
No cup can be drained which has not been fraught.
From the throb and the thrill of a day that was,
The day that now is seems dull with gloom;
Yet I bear the dullness and darkness, because
'Tis but the reaction of glow and bloom.
From the royal feast that of old was spread
I am starved on the diet that now is mine;
Yet, I could not turn hungry from water and bread
If I had not been sated on fruit and wine.
I'D rather have my verses win
A place in common people's hearts,
Who, toiling through the strife and din
Of life's great thoroughfares, and marts,
May read some line my hand has penned;
Some simple verse, not fine, or grand,
But what their hearts can understand
And hold me henceforth as a friend,--
I'd rather win such quiet fame
Than by some fine thought, bolished so
But those of learned minds would know,
Just what the meaning of my song,--
To have the critics sound my name
In high-flown praises, loud and long.
I sing not for the critic's ear,
But for the masses. If they hear
Despite the turmoil, noise, and strife
Some least low note that gladdens life,
I shall be wholly satisfied,
Though critics to the end deride.
SOMETIMES when I have dropped asleep,
Draped in soft luxurious gloom,
Across my drowsy mind will creep
The memory of another room,
Where resinous knots in roofboards made
A frescoing of light and shade,
And sighing poplars brushed their leaves
Against the humbly sloping eaves.
Again I fancy in my dreams
I'm lying in my trundle-bed.
I seem to see the bare old beams
And unhewn rafters overhead;
The hornet's shrill falsetto hum
I hear again, and see him come
Forth from his mud-walled hanging house,
Dressed in his black and yellow blouse.
There, summer dawns, in sleep I stirred,
And wove into my fair dream's woof
The chattering of a martin bird,
Or rain-drops pattering on the roof.
Or, half awake, and half in fear,
I saw the spider spinning near
His pretty castle, where the fly
Should come to ruin by and by.
And there I fashioned from my brain
Youth's shining structures in the air,
I did not wholly build in vain,
For some were lasting, firm and fair.
And I am one who lives to say
My life has held more good than gray,
And that the splendor of the real
Surpassed my early dream's ideal.
But still I love to wander back
To that old time and that old place;
To thread my way o'er Memory's track,
And catch the early morning's grace
In that quaint room beneath the rafter,
That echoed to my childish laughter;
To dream again the dreams that grew
More beautiful as they came true.
OUT from my window westward
I turn full oft my face;
But the mountains rebuke the vision
That would encompass space;
They lift their lofty foreheads
To the kiss of the clouds above,
And ask, "With all our glory,
Can we not win your love?"
I answer, "No, oh mountains!
I see that you are grand;
But you have not the breadth and beauty
Of the fields in my own land;
You narrow my range of vision
And you even shut from me
The voice of my old comrade,
The West Wind wild and free."
But to-day I climbed the mountains
On the back of a snow-white steed,
And the West Wind came to greet me--
He flew on the wings of speed.
His charger, and mine that bore me,
Went gaily neck to neck,
Till the town in the valley belkow us
Looked like a small, dark speck.
And oh! what tales he whispered
As he rode there by me,
Of friends whose smiling faces
I am so soon to see.
And the mountains frowned in anger,
Because I balked their spite,
And met my old-time comrade
There on their very height;
But I laughed up in their faces,
As I rode slowly back,
While the Wind went faster and faster,
Like a race-horse on the track.
BEFORE this scarf was faded,
What hours of mirth it knew;
How gayly it paraded
From smiling eyes to view.
The days were tinged with glory,
The nights too quickly sped,
And life was like a story
Where all the people wed.
Before this rosebud wilted,
How passionately sweet
The wild waltz smelled and lilted
In time for flying feet;
How loud the bassoons muttered,
The horns grew madly shrill,
And oh! the vows lips uttered
That hearts could not fulfill.
Before this fan was broken,
Behind its lace and pearl
What whispered words were spoken,
What hearts were in a whirl;
What homesteads were selected
In Fancy's realm of Spain,
What castles were erected
Without a room for pain.
When this odd glove was mated,
How thrilling seemed the play;
Maybe our hearts are sated--
We tire so soon to-day.
O, thrust away these treasures,
They speak the dreary truth;
We have outgrown the pleasures
And keen delights of youth.
WHEREVER my feet may wander
Wherever I chance to be,
There comes, with the coming of even' time
A vision sweet to me.
I see my mother sitting
In the old familiar place,
And she rocks to the tune her needles sing,
And thinks of an absent face.
I can hear the roar of the city
AAbout me now as I write;
But over an hundred miles of snow
My thought-steeds fly tonight,
To the dear little cozy cottage,
And the room where mother sits,
And slowly rocks in her easy chair
And thinks of me as she knits.
Sometimes with the merry dancers
When my feet are keeping time,
And my heart beats high, as young hearts will,
To the music's rhythmic chime.
My spirit slips over the distance
Over the glitter and whirl,
To my mother who sits, and rocks, and knits,
And thinks of her "little girl."
And when I listen to voices that flatter,
And smile, as women do,
To whispered words that may be sweet,
But are not always true;
I think of the sweet, quaint picture
Afar in quiet ways,
And I know one smile of my mother's eyes
Is better than all their praise.
And I know I can never wander
Far from the path of right,
Though snares are set for a woman's feet
In places that seem most bright.
For the vision is with me always,
Wherever I chance to be,
Of mother sitting, rocking, and knitting,
Thinking and praying for me.
THE subtle beauty of this day
Hangs o'er me like a fairy spell,
And care and grief have flown away,
And every breeze sings, "all is well."
I ask, "Holds earth or sin, or woe?"
My heart replies, "I do not know."
Nay! all we know, or feel, my heart,
Today is joy undimmed, complete;
In tears or pain we have no part;
The act of breathing is so sweet,
We care no higher joy to name.
What reck we now of wealth or fame?
The past--what matters it to me?
The pain it gave has passed away.
The future--that I cannot see!
I care for nothing save today--
This is a respite from all care,
And trouble flies--I know not where.
Go on, oh noisy, restless life!
Pass by, oh, feet that seek for heights!
I have no part in aught of strife;
I do not want your vain delights.
The day wraps round me like a spell
And every breeze sings, "All is well."
THE harsh King--Winter--sat upon the hills,
And reigned and ruled the earth right royally.
He locked the rivers, lakes, and all the rills--
"I am no puny, maudlin king," quoth he,
"But a stern monarch, born to rule, and reign;
And I'll show my power to the end.
The summer's flowery retinue I've slain,
And taken the bold, free North Wind for my friend.
"Spring, Summer, Autumn--feeble queens they were,
With their vast troops of flowers, birds and bees,
Soft winds, that made the long green grasses stir--
They lost their own identity in things like these!
I scorn them all! nay, I defy them all!
And none can wrest the sceptre from my hand.
The trusty North Wind answers to my call,
And breathes this icy breath upon the land."
The Siren--South Wind--listening the while,
Now floated airily across the lea.
"Oh King!" she cried, with tender tone and smile,
"I come to do all homage unto thee.
In all the sunny region, whence I came,
I find none like thee, King, so brave and grand!
Thine is a well deserved, unrivaled fame;
I kiss, in awe, dear King, thy cold white hand."
Her words were pleasing, and most fair her face.
He listened wrapt, to her soft-whispered praise.
She nestled nearer, in her Siren grace.
"Dear King," she said, "henceforth my voice shall raise
But songs of thy unrivaled splendor! Lo!
How white thy brow is! How thy garments shine!
I tremble 'neath thy beaming glance, for Oh,
Thy wondrous beauty mak'st thee seem divine."
The rain King listened, in a trance of bliss,
To this most sweet-voiced Siren from the South,
She nestled close, and pressed a lingering kiss
Upon the stern white pallor of his mouth.
She hung upon his breast, she pressed his cheek,
And he was nothing loth to hold her there,
While she such tender, loving words did speak,
And combed his white locks with her fingers fair.
And so she bound him, in her Siren wiles,
And stole his strength, with every kiss she gave,
And stabbed him through and through with tender smiles,
And with her tender words she dug his grave;
And then she left him, old, and weak, and blind,
And unlocked all the rivers, lakes, and rills,
While the queen Spring, with her whole troop behind,
Of flowers, and birds, and bees, came o'er the hills.
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