We present this work in honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing, Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea. Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring, And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.
Where shall we adventure, to-day that we’re afloat, Wary of the weather and steering by a star? Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat, To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar?
Hi! but here’s a squadron a-rowing on the sea— Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar! Quick, and we’ll escape them, they’re as mad as they can be, The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.
In honor of Mexican Independence Day, we present this work by one of Mexico’s most celebratory poets.
Speak not a word of wild, blaspheming grief! Be proud, be brave, though fallen in the strife, And gaze, oh poet, with supreme disdain On all the dark injustices of life!
Thou shalt not seek for constancy in love, Nor aught eternal from frail mortals ask; To rear sepuchral monuments on high From all thy griefs, O artist, be thy task! Chisel thy statues out of marble white, Forms chaste of mien, though naked to the air; And let speech slumber on their sculptured lips; Let them stand deeply sad, yet silent there.
A name! A sounding echo on the air, Fleeting and frail, its life a moment’s span! A dreamer’s foolish idol! Name and fame! This is the last sad vanity of man. Why should we justice seek, or clemency.— If our own comrades here deny our plea— From the indifference, mute and icy-cold, Of unknown men, to live in days to be?
Tardy compassion why should we implore From strangers hid in shadows, one and all? The echoes sleep within the darksome wood, And no one, no one answers to our call.
The only consolation in this life Is to remember happy hours and fair, And lift our eyes on high to view the skies When skies are blue or stars are shining there;
To flee the sea, and on the sleeping lake Enjoy the water’s calm, the peaceful time; To sleep—to dream—our wizard strong, the Dream, Is a deceiver holy and sublime!
‘Tis true, alas, that in the honest breast The fresh wound calls for vengeance and for strife; But yet—forgive the evil they have done! All suffer from the malady of life.
The very men who crown themselves with flowers Are born to sorrow, and to perish, too. If those you love the most betray your trust, Forgive them, for they know not what they do!
Perhaps those instincts they inherited, And they avenge unknowingly to-day Races that gathered on their hapless heads All griefs and hatreds ere they passed away.
Are thou perchance the judge—the sinless one? Do justice and sweet mercy meet in thee? Ah, who is not a fugitive, that bears The weight of crimes unpunished, guiltily?
Who has not feigned to love, dared with false vows Into a maiden’s holy soul to steal? Who can be sure that he has never killed? Who is the just man, that may justice deal?
Pity and pardon for all those that live! So, full of love, in mild and gentle mood, We shall be tender and compassionate, And haply, haply, some time shall be good!
Friend, dost thou suffer? Seek thy sweetheart fair In deathless beauty, free from pain and fear— Live leaning on thy sadness, as of old On young Cordelia leaned the wandering Lear.
See, far and farther ebbs the dying day! How good it is to rest! In shade obscure The woodland lulls us with a music soft; Virgin the water is, the air is pure.
Weary, her eyes the light is closing now; Sad murmors sound, and many a mournful sigh. The night, descending, to the earth says, ‘Come! ‘Tis over. Go to sleep, and do not cry!’
To recollect—forgive—have loved, believed, And had brief happiness our hearts to bless, And soon, grown weary, to recline against The snowy shoulder of forgetfulness!
To feel forevermore the tenderness That warmed your youthful bosoms with its flame, Receiving happiness, if it should come, Like a glad visit from some beauteous dame;
To hold still hidden that which most we love— Smiling forgiveness on our lips to keep— Until at last, O earth! we come to thee In the complete abandonment of sleep:
This ought to be the life of him who thinks How transient all things are that meet his eyes, And, wisely, stops before the wide expanse Of falsehood’s ocean that around him lies.
Gather the flowers, while there are flowers to pluck; Forgive the roses for their thorny guise! Our sorrows also pass away and fly, Flitting like swarms of dark-winged butterflies.
Love and forgive! Resist with courage strong The wicked, the unjust, the cowardly. The silent night, when it settles down, Pensive and sad, is beautiful to see!
When sorrow dims my spirit, on the heights I seek for calmness and for shining light. Upon the frozen summits of my soul Infinite pity spreads its hue of white.
Not while the snow-shroud round dead earth is rolled, And naked branches point to frozen skies.— When orchards burn their lamps of fiery gold, The grape glows like a jewel, and the corn A sea of beauty and abundance lies, Then the new year is born. Look where the mother of the months uplifts In the green clearness of the unsunned West, Her ivory horn of plenty, dropping gifts, Cool, harvest-feeding dews, fine-winnowed light; Tired labor with fruition, joy and rest Profusely to requite. Blow, Israel, the sacred cornet! Call Back to thy courts whatever faint heart throb With thine ancestral blood, thy need craves all. The red, dark year is dead, the year just born Leads on from anguish wrought by priest and mob, what undreamed-of morn? For never yet, since on the holy height, The Temple’s marble walls of white and green Carved like the sea-waves, fell, and the world’s light Went out in darkness,—never was the year Greater with portent and with promise seen, Than this eve now and here. Even as the Prophet promised, so your tent Hath been enlarged unto earth’s farthest rim. To snow-capped Sierras from vast steppes ye went, Through fire and blood and tempest-tossing wave, For freedom to proclaim and worship Him, Mighty to slay and save. High above flood and fire ye held the scroll, Out of the depths ye published still the Word. No bodily pang had power to swerve your soul: Ye, in a cynic age of crumbling faiths, Lived to bear witness to the living Lord, Or died a thousand deaths. In two divided streams the exiles part, One rolling homeward to its ancient source, One rushing sunward with fresh will, new heart. By each the truth is spread, the law unfurled, Each separate soul contains the nation’s force, And both embrace the world. Kindle the silver candle’s seven rays, Offer the first fruits of the clustered bowers, The garnered spoil of bees. With prayer and praise Rejoice that once more tried, once more we prove How strength of supreme suffering still is ours For Truth and Law and Love.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 185th birthday.
(a chemical narrative)
Certain facts which serve to explain The physical charms of Miss Addie De Laine, Who, as the common reports obtain, Surpassed in complexion the lily and rose; With a very sweet mouth and a retrousse nose; A figure like Hebe’s, or that which revolves In a milliner’s window, and partially solves That question which mentor and moralist pains, If grace may exist minus feeling or brains.
Of course the young lady had beaux by the score, All that she wanted,—what girl could ask more? Lovers that sighed and lovers that swore, Lovers that danced and lovers that played, Men of profession, of leisure, and trade; But one, who was destined to take the high part Of holding that mythical treasure, her heart,— This lover, the wonder and envy of town, Was a practicing chemist, a fellow called Brown.
I might here remark that ‘twas doubted by many, In regard to the heart, if Miss Addie had any; But no one could look in that eloquent face, With its exquisite outline and features of grace, And mark, through the transparent skin, how the tide Ebbed and flowed at the impulse of passion or pride,— None could look, who believed in the blood’s circulation As argued by Harvey, but saw confirmation That here, at least, Nature had triumphed o’er art, And as far as complexion went she had a heart.
But this par parenthesis. Brown was the man Preferred of all others to carry her fan, Hook her glove, drape her shawl, and do all that a belle May demand of the lover she wants to treat well. Folks wondered and stared that a fellow called Brown— Abstracted and solemn, in manner a clown, Ill dressed, with a lingering smell of the shop— Should appear as her escort at party or hop. Some swore he had cooked up some villainous charm, Or love philter, not in the regular Pharm- Acopoeia, and thus, from pure malice prepense, Had bewitched and bamboozled the young lady’s sense; Others thought, with more reason, the secret to lie In a magical wash or indelible dye; While Society, with its censorious eye And judgment impartial, stood ready to damn What wasn’t improper as being a sham.
For a fortnight the townfolk had all been agog With a party, the finest the season had seen, To be given in honor of Miss Pollywog, Who was just coming out as a belle of sixteen. The guests were invited; but one night before A carriage drew up at the modest back door Of Brown’s lab’ratory, and, full in the glare Of a big purple bottle, some closely veiled fair Alighted and entered: to make matters plain, Spite of veils and disguises, ‘twas Addie De Laine.
As a bower for true love, ‘twas hardly the one That a lady would choose to be wooed in or won: No odor of rose or sweet jessamine’s sigh Breathed a fragrance to hallow their pledge of troth by, Nor the balm that exhales from the odorous thyme; But the gaseous effusions of chloride of lime, And salts, which your chemist delights to explain As the base of the smell of the rose and the drain. Think of this, O ye lovers of sweetness! and know What you smell when you snuff up Lubin or Pinaud.
I pass by the greetings, the transports and bliss, Which of course duly followed a meeting like this, And come down to business,—for such the intent Of the lady who now o’er the crucible leant, In the glow of a furnace of carbon and lime, Like a fairy called up in the new pantomime,— And give but her words, as she coyly looked down In reply to the questioning glances of Brown: ‘I am taking the drops, and am using the paste, And the little white powders that had a sweet taste, Which you told me would brighten the glance of my eye, And the depilatory, and also the dye, And I’m charmed with the trial; and now, my dear Brown, I have one other favor,—now, ducky, don’t frown,— Only one, for a chemist and genius like you But a trifle, and one you can easily do. Now listen: to-morrow, you know, is the night Of the birthday soiree of that Pollywog fright; And I’m to be there, and the dress I shall wear Is too lovely; but’— ‘But what then, ma chere?’ Said Brown, as the lady came to a full stop, And glanced round the shelves of the little back shop. ‘Well, I want—I want something to fill out the skirt To the proper dimensions, without being girt In a stiff crinoline, or caged in a hoop That shows through one’s skirt like the bars of a coop; Something light, that a lady may waltz in, or polk, With a freedom that none but you masculine folk Ever know. For, however poor woman aspires, She’s always bound down to the earth by these wires. Are you listening? Nonsense! don’t stare like a spoon, Idiotic; some light thing, and spacious, and soon— Something like—well, in fact—something like a balloon!’
Here she paused; and here Brown, overcome by surprise, Gave a doubting assent with still wondering eyes, And the lady departed. But just at the door Something happened,—’tis true, it had happened before In this sanctum of science,—a sibilant sound, Like some element just from its trammels unbound, Or two substances that their affinities found.
The night of the anxiously looked for soiree Had come, with its fair ones in gorgeous array; With the rattle of wheels and the tinkle of bells, And the ‘How do ye do’s’ and the ‘Hope you are well’s;’ And the crush in the passage, and last lingering look You give as you hang your best hat on the hook; The rush of hot air as the door opens wide; And your entry,—that blending of self-possessed pride And humility shown in your perfect-bred stare At the folk, as if wondering how they got there; With other tricks worthy of Vanity Fair. Meanwhile, the safe topic, the beat of the room, Already was losing its freshness and bloom; Young people were yawning, and wondering when The dance would come off; and why didn’t it then: When a vague expectation was thrilling the crowd, Lo! the door swung its hinges with utterance proud! And Pompey announced, with a trumpet-like strain, The entrance of Brown and Miss Addie De Laine.
She entered; but oh! how imperfect the verb To express to the senses her movement superb! To say that she ‘sailed in’ more clearly might tell Her grace in its buoyant and billowy swell. Her robe was a vague circumambient space, With shadowy boundaries made of point-lace; The rest was but guesswork, and well might defy The power of critical feminine eye To define or describe: ‘twere as futile to try The gossamer web of the cirrus to trace, Floating far in the blue of a warm summer sky.
‘Midst the humming of praises and glances of beaux That greet our fair maiden wherever she goes, Brown slipped like a shadow, grim, silent, and black, With a look of anxiety, close in her track. Once he whispered aside in her delicate ear A sentence of warning,—it might be of fear: ‘Don’t stand in a draught, if you value your life.’ (Nothing more,—such advice might be given your wife Or your sweetheart, in times of bronchitis and cough, Without mystery, romance, or frivolous scoff.) But hark to the music; the dance has begun. The closely draped windows wide open are flung; The notes of the piccolo, joyous and light, Like bubbles burst forth on the warm summer night. Round about go the dancers; in circles they fly; Trip, trip, go their feet as their skirts eddy by; And swifter and lighter, but somewhat too plain, Whisks the fair circumvolving Miss Addie De Laine. Taglioni and Cerito well might have pined For the vigor and ease that her movements combined; E’en Rigelboche never flung higher her robe In the naughtiest city that’s known on the globe. ‘Twas amazing, ‘twas scandalous; lost in surprise, Some opened their mouths, and a few shut their eyes.
But hark! At the moment Miss Addie De Laine, Circling round at the outer edge of an ellipse Which brought her fair form to the window again, From the arms of her partner incautiously slips! And a shriek fills the air, and the music is still, And the crowd gather round where her partner forlorn Still frenziedly points from the wide window-sill Into space and the night; for Miss Addie was gone! Gone like the bubble that bursts in the sun; Gone like the grain when the reaper is done; Gone like the dew on the fresh morning grass; Gone without parting farewell; and alas! Gone with a flavor of hydrogen gas!
When the weather is pleasant, you frequently meet A white-headed man slowly pacing the street; His trembling hand shading his lack-lustre eye, Half blind with continually scanning the sky. Rumor points him as some astronomical sage, Re-perusing by day the celestial page; But the reader, sagacious, will recognize Brown, Trying vainly to conjure his lost sweetheart down, And learn the stern moral this story must teach, That Genius may lift its love out of its reach.