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His deed, its author long outliving,
The love, the honor, felt so many years. By Nature's mother-care increased, Curtis, skilled equally with voice and pen Shall stand, his verdant almoner, giving To stir the hearts or mould the minds of A kindly dole to man and beast.
That voice whose music, for I've heard you The wayfarer, at noon reposing,
sing Shall bless its shadow on the grass,
Sweet as Casella, can with passion ring, Or sheep beneath it huddle, dozing
That pen whose rapid ease ne'er trips with Until the thundergust o'erpass.
Nor scrapes nor sputters, pointed with good The owl, belated in his plundering,
taste, Shall here await the friendly night, First Steele's, then Goldsmith's, next it Blinking whene'er he wakes, and wondering
came to you, What fool it was invented light.
Whom Thackeray rated best of all our
crew, Hither the busy birds shall flutter,
Had letters kept you, every wreath were With the light timber for their nests,
yours; And, pausing from their labor, utter Had the World tempted, all its chariest The morning sunshine in their breasts.
Had swung on flattered hinges to admit What though his memory shall have van- Such high-bred manners, such good-natured ished,
wit; Since the good deed he did survives? At courts, in senates, who so fit to serve ? It is not wholly to be banished
And both invited, but
would not swerve, Thus to be part of many lives.
All meaner prizes waiving that you might
In civic duty spend your heat and light, Grow, then, my foster-child, and strengthen, Unpaid, untrammelled, with a sweet disdain
Bough over bough, a murmurous pile, Refusing posts men grovel to attain. And, as your stately stem shall lengthen, Good Man all own you; what is left me, So may the statelier of Argyll !
then, To heighten praise with but Good Citizen ?
But why this praise to make you blush and AN EPISTLE TO GEORGE
stare, WILLIAM CURTIS
And give a backache to your Easy-Chair?
Old Crestien rightly says no language can “De prodome,
Express the worth of a true Gentleman, Des qu'il s'atorne a grant bonto
agree; but other thoughts deride Ja n'iert tot dit ne tot conte, Que leingue ne puet pas retraire
My first intent, and lure my pen aside.
On other faces, loved from long ago,
Dear to us both, and all these loves com1874
With this I send and crowd in every line; CURTIS, whose Wit, with Fancy arm in arm, Fortune with me was in such generous mood Masks half its muscle in its skill to charm, That all my friends were yours, and all And who so gently can the Wrong expose
were good; As sometimes to make converts, never foes, Three generations come when one I call, Or only such as good men must expect, And the fair grandame, youngest of them Knaves sore with conscience of their own
In her own Florida who found and sips I come with mild remonstrance. Ere I The fount that fled from Ponce's longing start,
lips. A kindlier errand interrupts my beart, How bright they rise and wreathe my And I must utter, though it vex your ears,
CRESTIEN DE TROIES,
Divine my thoughts, reply without a sound, And one must do his service as he can. And with them many a shape that memory
you it were not pleasanter to speak sees,
Smooth words that leave unflushed the As dear as they, but crowned with aureoles
brow and cheek? these!
To sit, well-dined, with cynic smile, unseen What wonder if, with protest in my thought, In private box, spectator of the scene Arrived, I find 't was only love I brought ? Where men the comedy of life rebearse, I came with protest; Memory barred the Idly to judge which better and which
road Till I repaid you half the debt I owed. Each hireling actor spoiled his worthless
part ? No, 't was not to bring laurels that I came, Were it not sweeter with a careless heart, Nor would you wish it, daily seeing fame, In happy commune with the untainted (Or our cheap substitute, unknown of yore,) brooks, Dumped like a load of coal at every door, To dream all day, or, walled with silent Mime and hetæra getting equal weight
books, With him whose toils heroic saved the State. To hear nor heed the World's unmeaning But praise can harm not who so calmly noise, met
Safe in my fortress stored with lifelong Slander's worst word, nor treasured up the joys ?
debt, Knowing, what all experience serves to I love too well the pleasures of retreat show,
Safe from the crowd and cloistered from No mud can soil us but the mud we throw.
the street; You have heard harsher voices and more The fire that whispers its domestic joy, loud,
Flickering on walls that knew me still a As all must, not sworn liegemen of the boy, crowd,
And knew my saintly father; the full days, And far aloof your silent mind could keep Not careworn from the world's soul-squan. As when, in heavens with winter-midnight dering ways, deep,
Calm days that loiter with snow-silent The perfect moon hangs thoughtful, nor tread, can know
Nor break my commune with the undying What hounds her lucent calm drives mad
Truants of Time, to-morrow like to-day,
That come unbid, and claimless glide away But to my business, while you rub your By shelves that sun them in the indulgent eyes
Past, And wonder how you ever thought me wise. Where Spanish castles, even, were built to Dear friend and old, they say you shake last,
Where saint and sage their silent vigil keep, And wish some bitter words of mine un- And wrong bath ceased or sung itself to said:
sleep. I wish they might be, there we are Dear were my walks, too, gathering fraagreed;
grant store I hate to speak, still more what makes the Of Mother Nature's simple-minded lore: need;
I learned all weather-signs of day or night; But I must utter what the voice within No bird but I could name him by his flight, Dictates, for acquiescence dumb were sin; No distant tree but by his shape was I blurt ungrateful truths, if so they be,
known, That none may need to say them after me. Or, near at hand, by leaf or bark alone. 'T were my felicity could I attain
This learning won by loving looks I hived The temperate zeal that balances your As sweeter lore than all from books derived. brain;
I know the charm of hillside, field, and But nature still o’erleaps reflection's plan,
Of lake and stream, and the sky's downy I looked to see an ampler atmosphere brood,
By that electric passion-gust blown clear. Of roads sequestered rimmed with sallow I looked for this; consider what I see sod,
But I forbear, 't would please nor you nor But friends with hardhack, aster, goldenrod,
To check the items in the bitter list Or succory keeping summer long its trust Of all I counted on and all I mist. Of heaven-blue fleckless from the eddying Only three instances I choose from all, dust:
And each enough to stir a pigeon's gall: These were my earliest friends, and latest Office a fund for ballot-brokers made too,
To pay the drudges of their gainful trade; Still unestranged, whatever fate may
do. Our cities taught what conquered cities For years I had these treasures, knew their
By ædiles chosen that they might safely Estate most real man can have on earth. I sank too deep in this soft-stuffed repose And gold, however got, a title fair That hears but rumors of earth's wrongs To such respect as only gold can bear.
I seem to see this; how shall I gainsay Too well these Capuas could my muscles What all our journals tell me every day? waste,
Poured our young martyrs their highNot void of toils, but toils of choice and
hearted blood taste;
That we might trample to congenial mud These still had kept me could I but have The soil with such a legacy sublimed ? quelled
Methinks an angry scorn is here wellThe Puritan drop that in my veins rebelled.
timed: But there were times when silent were my Where find retreat? How keep reproach books
at bay? As jailers are, and gave me sullen looks, Where'er I turn some scandal fouls the When verses palled, and even the woodland
way. path, By innocent contrast, fed my heart with Dear friend, if any man I wished to please, wrath,
'T were surely you whose humor's honied And I must twist my little gift of words Into a scourge of rough and knotted cords Flows flecked with gold of thought, whose Unmusical, that whistle as they swing To leave on shameless backs their purple Sees Paradise regained by all mankind, sting
Whose brave example still to vanward
shines, How slow Time comes ! Gone, who so swift Checks the retreat, and spurs our lagging as he ?
lines. Add but a year, 't is half a century
Was I too bitter? Who his phrase can Since the slave's stifled moaning broke my
That sees the life-blood of his dearest Heard 'gainst my will in that seclusion deep,
I loved my Country so as only they Haply heard louder for the silence there, Who love a mother fit to die for may; And so my fancied safeguard made my I loved her old renown, her stainless
fame, After that moan had sharpened to a cry, What better proof than that I loathed her And a cloud, hand-broad' then, heaped all
shame? our sky
That many blamed me could not irk me With its stored vengeance, and such thun
long, ders stirred
But, if you doubted, must I not be wrong? As heaven's and earth's remotest chambers 'T is not for me to answer: this I know, heard,
That man or race so prosperously low
Sunk in success that wrath they cannot Instincts, if less imperious, yet more feel,
strong, Shall taste the spurn of parting Fortune's And happy in the toil that ends with song For never land long lease of empire won Home am I come : not, as I hoped might Whose sons sate silent when base deeds were done.
To the old haunts, too full of ghosts for me,
But to the olden dreams that time enPOSTSCRIPT, 1887
And the loved books that younger grow Curtis, so wrote I thirteen years ago,
with years ; Tost it unfinished by, and left it so ; To country rambles, timing with my tread Found lately, I have pieced it out, or tried, Some happier verse that carols in my Since time for callid juncture was denied.
head, Some of the verses pleased me, it is true,
Yet all with sense of something vainly And still were pertinent, — those honoring
Of something lost, but when I never wist. These now I offer : take them, if you How empty seems to me the populous will,
street, Like the old hand-grasp, when at Shady One figure gone I daily loved to meet, Hill
The clear, sweet singer with the crown of We met, or Staten Island, in the days When life was its own spur, nor needed Not whiter than the thoughts that housed praise.
below! If once you thought me rash, no longer And, ah, what absence feel I at my side, fear;
Like Dante when he missed his laurelled Past my next milestone waits my seven
What sense of diminution in the air I mount no longer when the trumpets Once so inspiring, Emerson not there !
But life is sweet, though all that makes it My battle-harness idles on the wall,
sweet The spider's castle, camping - ground of Lessen like sound of friends' departing dust,
feet, Not without dints, and all in front, I trust. And Death is beautiful as feet of friend Shivering sometimes it calls me as it hears Coming with welcome at our journey's Afar the charge's tramp and clash of end; spears ;
For me Fate gave, whate'er she else deBut 't is such murmur only as might be
nied, The sea-shell's lost tradition of the sea, A nature sloping to the southern side ; That makes me muse and wonder Where ? I thank her for it, though when clouds and When ?
arise While from my cliff I watch the waves of Such natures double-darken gloomy skies.
I muse upon the margin of the sea, That climb to break midway their seeming Our common pathway to the new To Be, gain,
Watching the sails, that lessen more and And think it triumph if they shake their
Of good and beautiful embarked before; Little I ask of Fate ; will she refuse
With bits of wreck I patch the boat shall Some days of reconcilement with the
bear Muse ?
Me to that unexhausted Otherwhere, I take my reed again and blow it free Whose friendly-peopled shore I sometimes Of dusty silence, murmuring, “Sing to
By soft mirage uplifted, beckon me, And, as its my curious touch retries, Nor sadly hear, as lower sinks the sun, The stir of earlier instincts I surprise, My moorings to the past snap one by one.
Float unattained in silent empery,
A MYSTICAL COMMENT ON TITIAN'S
Can, then, my twofold nature find content
In vain conceits of airy blandishment ? I
Ask I no more ? Since yesterday I task
My storm-strewn thoughts to tell me what My day began not till the twilight fell,
I ask: And, lo, in ether from heaven's sweetest Faint premonitions of mutation strange well,
Steal o'er my perfect orb, and, with the The New Moon swam divinely isolate
change, In maiden silence, she that makes my fate Myself am changed; the shadow of my Haply not knowing it, or only so
earth As I the secrets of my sheep may know; Darkens the disk of that celestial worth Nor ask I more, entirely blest if she, Which only yesterday could still suffice In letting me adore, ennoble me
Upwards to waft my thoughts in sacrifice; To height of what the Gods meant mak- My heightened fancy with its touches
ing man, As only she and her best beauty can. Moulds to a woman's that ideal form; Mine be the love that in itself can find Nor yet a woman's wholly, but divine Seed of white thoughts, the lilies of the With awe her purer essence bred in mine. mind,
Was it long brooding on their own surmise, Seed of that glad surrender of the will Which, of the eyes engendered, fools the That finds in service self's true purpose
Or have I seen through that translucent air Love that in outward fairness sees the tent A Presence shaped in its seclusions bare, Pitched for an inmate far more excellent; My Goddess looking on me from above Love with a light irradiate to the core, As look our russet maidens when they love, Lit at her lamp, but fed from inborn But high-uplifted o'er our human heat store ;
And passion-paths too rough for her pearl Love thrice-requited with the single joy
feet? Of an immaculate vision naught could cloy,
Slowly the Shape took outline as I gazed Dearer because, so high beyond my scope,
At her full-orbed or crescent, till, bedazed My life grew rich with her, unbribed by With wonder-working light that subtly hope
wrought Of other guerdon save to think she knew My brain to its own substance, steeping One grateful votary paid her all her due;
thought Happy if she, high-radiant there, resigned In trances such as poppies give, I saw To his sure trust her image in his mind. Things shut from vision by sight's sober O fairer even than Peace is when she
Amorphous, changeful, but defined at last Hushing War's tumult, and retreating Into the peerless Shape mine eyes hold drums
fast. Fade to a murmur like the sough of bees This, too, at first I worshipt: soon, like Hidden among the noon-stilled linden-trees, wine, Bringer of quiet, thou that canst allay Her eyes, in mine poured, frenzy-philtred The dust and din and travail of the day,
mine; Strewer of Silence, Giver of the dew Passion put Worship's priestly raiment on That doth our pastures and our souls re- And to the woman knelt, the Goddess gone. new,
Was I, then, more than mortal made? or Still dwell remote, still on thy shoreless sea