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Country and River- Side Poems
HORACE DUMONT HERR
"Babe of Bethlehem and Man of Galilee^'
"The Palmer'', "The Tenters"
and other verse
From original sketches and photographic views
GATE CITY PRESS
KANSAS CITY. MO.
Copyrighted Dec, 1910. H. D. Herr)
Page Two contents
Sentiment by Henry Wallace 6
Conciliation. . . Â» 7
IDYLS AND LYRICS OF EDGEWOOD
Host and Guest 9
The Story of a Day 11
The Storm â€¢. 14
The Feast 15
Swing Song 16
The Surrender 18
The Fox Squirrel 19
Morning at the Mill. 24
The Sawyer's Story. . .â– . 26
Man and Nature 28
The Frontiersman 29
The Passing of the Cabin 32
The Relics 34
Finale and Farewell 38
CON TENTS Page Three
POEMS OF BACK COUNTRY WISDOM
AND LOCAL ATTACHMENT.
The Trapper and His Traps 39
Too Far Away 42
Saint Saloon 45
Pank, or the Dog and the Ram 49
Humboldt Town 52
Labor Day 55
Wayne, Fair Wayne 56
SEASON-SCENES AND SENTIMENTS.
The Coming 61
Sickle and Song 62
The Fireflies 65
The Voices 68
The Passing of Autumn 70
The Man With the Axe 72
Morning on the Mississippi 75
When the Ice Goes Out 82
Phantoms of the Mill 84
I. Dejection 89
II. Exhiliration 92
Stemming the Tide 95
THE PILOT 97
SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT. . 102
FOREWORD Page Five
Most of the poems here collected, though in-
spired by local surroundings, and expressing
personal emotions, yet deal with elemental
things attractive to all. The Country Life
Commission, the great Agricultural Colleges,
and the Farmers' Institutes are turning our
eyes to rural life as never before. Upon the
tide of country sentiment this unpretentious
booklet of poems is launched, not without dif-
fidence on the part of the author, but with the
hope that among the more imposing craft that
sail the sea of literature, this little boat may
at least attract a few passengers who enjoy a
voyage not too far from shore.
â€” H. D. H.
"Th,e farm will in time have its poets and its prophets,
a literature all its own, "but it must come out of the soil
and through men of the soil; and this will come only in
time and can not he forced or hastened. The rose will
bloom; hut it must have a period of growth first, must he
bountifully fed from a rich soil beneath, before it can open
its petals to the sunshine and the dew-drop.''
"7w Wallace's Farmer."
CONCILIATION PciQ^ Seven
If those I love frown at my verse
And think it hard and crude and hoarse
My wish to please I still must plead,
Accept the purpose for the deed.
The lines I hope, are not so ill
But some may read the verses still.
And at the altar of their grace
Make for my offering a place.
Not to the learn'd I dedicate.
But those who lahor soon and late.
To those, whose tastfi not o'er-re fined,
Have open heart and open mind.
May Friends ivho relish country fare,
And long to breathe the country air
And feel the heat of Nature's heart,
Find here some joy if little art.
And if who read hreathe kindly thought
For him who for the reader wrought.
Hell sit, without a sense of loss.
Below the feet of Burns or Foss.
Page Eight dedication
IDYLS AND LYRICS OF EDGEWOOD
Dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. William S. Hun-
ter, on whose farm the Edgewood poems were
written, and whose encouragement and gener-
osity made possible their publication.
fe"t^c^^;:V:->:x;v^...t- 'â€¢ -â– . " -.^^^^^^
''The graders they ivere grading a fill.
Their tents were just over the hill."
â€” Page Ten.
HOST AND GUEST Page Nine
IDYLS AND LYRICS OF EDGEWOOD
Host and Guest.
A farmer to a preacher, one day,
Said "Come to our farm and stay.
Through August you'll have a vacation,
Just come on the cars to the station,
In surrey we'll bring you the rest of the way."
The preacher, who just wanted a call
To leave the brick street and hall,
Decided without much debating
To close with the offer awaiting.
So fled he to Edgewood where peace is o'er all.
Now Edgewood, be it well understood.
Is where, at the edge of the wood.
Dwells he by whose kindness was given
Permission to enter this heaven
Where Madam and children and all things are
Page Ten host and guest
The dwellings, not too large nor too small,
Were shaded by pine trees tall.
Sleek cattle in pastures were straying,
Sweet children were laughing and playing,
And squirrels were tame and came at your
The graders they were grading a fill,*
Their tents were just over the hill.
The loggers their logs were a hauling,
In woods to their horses were calling.
And sawyers were sawing the logs at the mill.
No idler was our host thro' the day.
Our hostess though busy was gay.
They knew how to manage their farming.
And yet found they time to be charming,
And Clericus sighed that he soon must away.
A matron and a maiden were there.
The maid, our host's daughter, was fair.
The face of the matron showed traces
That told of a heart full of graces,
'Twas hers for a pioneer uncle to care.
*That part of the Milwauhee Railroad which con-
nects Muscatine with Kansas City was in process of
construction when this was written.
THE STORY OF A DAY Page Eleven
With Archie and Ruth, Milton, Marie,
And visiting cousins two or three.
Sure all who reflect must be able
To see that in house and at table
There gathered a merry and bright company.
Tho' wishing that the days might remain,
Yet Clericus knew he wished vain.
But hoping in rhyme he might treasure
Somewhat of their fugitive pleasure.
He put them in verse there to live them again.
THE STORY OF A DAY.
A Sabbath Idyl.
All thro' the night the pelting rain
Beat on the roof and window pane.
The sullen dawn both gray and grim
Crept slowly o'er horizon rim.
The ceaseless drip of oak and pine,
The mooing of the unmilked kine,
The rumbling of the far off cars.
And cock-crow calling daybreak hours,
Proclaimed the Sabbath day begun
Without the sight of Sabbath sun.
Page Twelve the story of a day
Our host went out with gum boots on
And with him strode his manly son,
The cows were milked and then turned out,
The horses from the pastures brought.
The corn was thrown to hogs in pens
And shared by turkeys and by hens.
The calves were shut in their corral.
The milk was hung down in the well,
The Sabbath chores were thus attended,
And so the morning's work was ended.
But think ye not, who read or hear,
The day within was dark and drear ;
When at the board each found a place
We bowed our heads and uttered grace,
The father served each one with food.
The mother's smile made all feel good ;
No stiffness here or formal feast.
But all felt free from large to least.
And counsel grave of golden worth
Was blended well with childhood's mirth.
The breakfast o'er and dishes done.
Each with the Sunday clothes put on.
We gathered in the sitting room
More bright because of outdoor gloom.
The walls were hung with faces dear
Of kin who were but are not here.
The "Uncle's" portrait from the wall
Beamed down upon us one and all,
A shepherd led his flock afield,
Munkacsy's picture Christ revealed.
THE STORY OF A DAY Page Thirteen
The clouds still shed their Sabbath tears,
As Magdalene had once shed hers,
And shut from church and Sunday School,
We yielded to the household rule
By which in rain or stormy weather
All read THE BOOK at home together;
The pastor took the Rabbi's place,
And Israel's journeys did they trace
With question, comment, application
Suggested by "the chosen nation."
And when the midday meal was past.
And sun shone out a while at last,
Tho' roads were mire and tents were damp.
Yet went we all to Grader's Camp,
And some their Bibles took along,
And others had their books of song ;
To masters of the grader's tackle
Good news of love from Heaven sent
The pastor spoke in boarding-tent.
As Moses spoke in Tabernacle.
The evening came with clouds as dark
As those which hung o'er Noah's ark.
And when the men had done their chore,
As in the morn they did before.
We gathered in the self-same room,
And light and song dispelled the gloom;
And while the storm loomed in the north
And shot its jagged lightnings forth,
Ruth played the chords that soothed like balm.
And closed the day with "Evening Calm."
Page Fourteen THE STORM
The pastor had lingered a moment to say
"Good-night," as the music had floated away;
The storm that had gathered had broken at
And wide-winged the gale flew furious and
The lightning that shivered the cloud-piercing
Too shivered the air with its thunderous
The furies of fierceness flew forth from the
And howled thro' the trees like storms thro'
The pines were bent backward at first by the
They writhed and they groaned, did reel and
Their wide-sweeping limbs did they toss and
Like athletes that struggle and fight in the
Like infantry following a cavalry charge,
In wake of the wind came the drops swift and
Till volleys of rain from the guns of the sky
Swept everything seaward not anchored or
THE FEAST Page Fifteen
And v/hen we awakened at break of the day
Brooks were like rivers that hastened away;
A lake in the field children waded with glee,
And Cedar his banks had o'er spread like a sea.
His friend and the pastor strolled out thro'
To measure the damage that was done by the
The stream like a serpent went winding 'mid
Where drifted were wrecks of all sorts and
Their mission accomplished, their steps they
And feel of the forest the gloom and the
Old road-ways they followed thro' fair picnic
And dinner-bell rang as they finished their
FEAST AND SONG.
At the back of the house,
In the rays of the sun,
There we gathered to wash,
And with banter and fun,
From the basin on block
The cool water we splashed
Like the spray o'er the rock
When by surf it is dashed.
Page Sixteen SWING SONG
Then we trooped to the feast,
Where our duty was done;
From the spring-chicken pie
Not a hero would run;
Like a white turret deck
VV^as the fair table seen,
But 'twas left like a wreck, â€”
Empty plates, bowls, tureen.
When the battle was won,
Then the farmer rehearsed
What his plans were for work,
And his helpers dispersed;
But the pastor was free,
So he sauntered along
To the children's pine tree,
And composed them a song.
There is the swing.
Beneath the pine;
'Tis just the thing.
The shade is fine;
Swing and sing.
Swing and sing.
â– â– -. '.V''-
'/n mwd i/ieir wheels were sticking,
Too wet it teas for' picking.''
â€” Page Twenty-four.
SWING SONG Page Seventeen
True 'tis a swing
Of new design,
Not like the swing
That once was mine;
Swing and sing,
Swing and sing.
Squirrels they swing
On boughs of pine,
And grapes they swing
On ropes of vine;
Swing and sing.
Swing and sing.
In nests they line
With hair and string
And raveled twine;
Swing and sing.
Swing and sing.
Fair lilies swing
Like cones on pine,
Bells swing and ring
In steeples fine ;
Swing and sing,
Swing and sing.
There's not a thing
That is more fine
Than just to swing
Beneath the pine ;
Swing and sing.
Swing and sing.
But the children at last
"Let the old cat die,"
And stopping the swing,
They came with a cry,
"Now write us a verse
About Skip, the old dog,
THE FOX SQUIRREL Page Nineteen
Or make us a picture
Of a squirrel or hog."
"No, draw me my wagon,"
Pled Milton, with pout ;
So how was the pastor
To find his way out?
He pictured the wagon
In a wonderful way.
And promised the girls
That in verse, some day.
He'd picture the squirrels.
So, mobbed by the children
In frolicksome glee,
He yielded each point
'Neath the old pine tree.
THE FOX SQUIRREL.
O the merry fox squirrel
Lives up in a tree.
And happy he is
As happy can be;
His coat it is sleek.
His eyes they are bright.
And he plays all the day
And sleeps all the night.
Page Twenty the fox squirrel
He's a sly little rogue,
And always on guard,
Whether up in a tree.
Or down in the yard ;
At bark of a dog.
Or bawl of a cow,
Then he sits up to hear
And see what's the row.
He can run up a tree
As easy and fast
As sailors the ropes
Run up to the mast ;
From ends of the twigs,
High up in the air.
He can nip off the nut
And eat it up there.
For the little fox squirrel
Is an acrobat.
He jumps a broad jump.
And never falls flat
When swinging aloft
On his leafy trapeze
In the green forest tent
Of glossy oak trees.
THE FOX SQUIRREL Page Twenty-one
And he's saucy sometimes.
And sits on a rail
And chatters and barks
And waves his brush tail;
Approach, and he's gone,
With flourish and flash.
Up a Cottonwood tree,
An oak, or an ash.
And a forager's life
Is the life that he lives,
He takes what he wants
And nothing he gives ;
With corn on the stalk.
And nuts on the tree.
In the field or the woods,
He's equally free.
As a matter of course,
A squirrel like that
By nature must be
His comp'ny select.
His station be high
As the finch and the jay
And the oriole fly.
Page Twenty-tzvo night
So a villa he builds,
For summer retreat,
Where hammock'd in leaves
He's shielded from heat ;
His great ragged nest.
Far out on a limb,
You may see very plain.
But can not see him.
And his winter-time home
Is castled high walls
Of round-tower'd oak.
Whose long crooked halls
Are hollow old limbs â€”
A safest retreat
From his deadliest foes.
From frost and from sleet.
Hushed was the children's laughter.
The day its course had run,
The glow that followed after
Was fading with the sun.
NIGHT Page Tzventy-three
The lengthening shadows blended,
The forest seemed asleep,
Peace like the dews descended,
Stars lit the upper deep.
From out the wood's abysses
Hoarse hooted spectral owls;
Old snags in ivy dresses
Were monks in gowns and cowls.
The air so soft and musky
The wakeful senses dulled ;
And Night, the nurse-maid dusky.
To sleep the toilers lulled.
And chastely veiled with tresses,
Sweet Silence kissed them well ;
And healed by her caresses.
All burdens from them fell.
And still the moon went sailing
Far down the misty west.
Till when the stars were paling
Morn called the world from rest.
Page Twenty-four morning at the mill
MORNING AT THE MILL.
Because it had been raining,
One morning at the mill
The graders were complaining,
They couldn't work the fill ;
In mud their wheels were sticking.
Too wet it was for picking,
They couldn't plow or spade,
Board, on grade."
Came later on the farmers.
In working garments plain.
Discussed the strike at Armour's,
And trusts, and loss, and gain ;
Thought drouth would be a blessing,
'Twould let them do their threshing.
They'd "lose their seed and toil.
Rent of soil.
If shocks spoil."
A hot and drouthy season
Had passed the year before.
And for that very reason
The woods had suffered sore;
The trees at top were dying.
To save them men were trying,
By bringing what would build.
Of trees killed.
To be milled.
>''^ -â– -â– ,:
"The mill was hut a Gypsy,
A sort of iron tramp.''
â€” Page Twenty-five.
MORNING AT THE MILL Page Twenty-five
The mill was but a Gypsy,
A sort of iron tramp,
With smoke-stack tall and tipsy,
'Twas hauled from camp to camp ;
The roof on props was shaky,
Between the slabs 'twas leaky.
But where the saw-wheel played
The roof made.
And then there was the sawyer,
A stocky man was he,
Could talk you like a lawyer,
Or curse you if need be;
Of cant-hook he was master,
The saw none crowded faster,
But kind was he, tho' rough.
Strong and tough.
Plain and bluff.
Because the belt had parted
The mill shut down a spell.
The wagon-tank was started
For water, to the well ;
The belt, with strong whang-leather.
The sawyer sewed together.
And joined the talk and jest.
With the rest.
Page Twenty-six the sawyer's story
THE SAWYER'S STORY.
"They talk 'bout farms and farmers,
'Bout forren trade and free,
'Bout Carnegies and Armours,
And things folks hear and see.
But, sir, there's no imployment
That brings 'em sich in joy men t
As sawin' of a tree
Brings to me,"
"These logs that I'm a sawin',
They're good 'nough in their way â€”
Don't understand I'm jawin' â€”
They're telephone poles, I say.
Side logs I've saw'd in Black-Hills,
'Fore Gov'm't stopped the sawmills
When pine-lands there was free;
That broke me."
"In that there Black Hill pine-ry
Couldn't die 'nless you was shot ;
We didn't have much fine-ry.
But health? â€” tough's a pine knot:
Went down into Missoury,
And shook with chills, like fury, â€”
We'd lost our luck, you see.
Wife and me,"
THE SAWYER'S STORY Page Twcnty-seven
Down there when I was haulin'
Some straw, one winter day,
My leg I broke in fallin'
When mules was runnin' way :
My boy, a mad dog bit him.
Mad-stone I had to git him, â€”
'Twas mighty hard on me.
"Ask how he got that bitin'?
Well sir, by our bull pup;
Saloon man had 'im fightin'.
Dog's mad, chaws feller up.
Then runs with chain a slappin',
Tin tub hooks on, goes flappin' â€”
The blamedest time, by gee,
"But still I ain't complainin';
If I can git the logs,
And it will stop a rainin'.
We'll set them iron dogs.
And whirl the saw a screamin*
And tearin' like a demon.
Till every log you see
Boards 'ill be,"
Page Twenty-eight man and nature
To words he fitted actions;
The saw began to scream
And slice the log to fractions,
In stud, and board, and beam;
The pitman it was pumping,
The engine it was jumping.
Flew sawdust in the air, â€”
Bear off the fresh sawed lumber.
And pile the slabs aside,
Write on the slate the number,
Count up at eventide;
Like mingled gold and fire.
Heap up the sawdust higher,
And when shall fade the day
Get your pay.
MAN AND NATURE.
Great man's great slave is the iron mill.
The man-made serf of the human will ;
From rock and flame it was summoned forth.
To work for man who redeems the earth;
For woods but wilderness is, alone,
THE FRONTIERSMAN Page Twenty-fiine
Where logs and snags are with brush o'er
And mountains solemn, and stern, and cold
Are heaps of rocks over mines of gold ;
And streams and rivers but ditches are,
Till man lays tribute upon their power;
For always, in her work and plan,
Does Nature loiter still for man;
Her life is wild, her aspect drear,
Till comes at last the pioneer.
The subject of this poem, Mr. Aristarchus Gone,
came from Connecticut to Iowa in 1837 and was the
original owner of the Edgewood Farm. A remnant of
his old caMn still stands where he huilt it. The ''Rel-
ics" described in another poem were given by him
to Mr. William 8. Hunter who still has them in his
possession. The ''Frontiersman,'' written a number of
years ago when Mr. Cone was still living, was by re-
uuest read at his funeral, which was attended by an
immense concourse of people, and ivas conducted in
the dooryard under the old pines that his own hands
How oft' we saw the "Uncle,"
With hair as white as snow.
Walk out along the yard-way
With trembling steps and slow.
He, from old Connecticut,
Had come in early days;
The West was Indian peopled.
And trails the only ways.
Page Thirty the frontiersman
With heart for great adventure,
He left his kin behind,
And rivers crossed, and prairies,
A home-land new to find.
He came a foot-sore pilgrim,
His bundle in his hand,
No white men dwelt beyond him
To far Pacific land.
With bark beneath for bedding.
When wolves were howling round,
In buffalo robe he wrapped him.
And slept upon the ground.
Just in the edge of timber,
Where woods and prairie met,
When close at hand was winter.
His cabin stakes he set.
To flimsy tent had followed
A rail pen thatched with hay;
A spark set fire and burned it
One chill November day.
A snow came with the darkness â€”
He stretched again his tent.
And ate his roast potatoes,
As o'er the fire he bent.
THE FRONTIERSMAN Page Thirty-one
A yoke of strong-necked oxen
A fellow settler brought;
With these, in snowy timber,
The houseless workers wrought.
They dragged the logs together,
They split the boards apart.
And slowly built their cabin,
With rude and frontier art.
And when 'twas roofed with clapboards.
Within the hut they came.
And baked their coarse corndodgers
In fire-place coals and flame.
The summer brought the ague.
With fever-flush between;
Mosquitoes swarmed, and Indians,
In woods and on the stream.
But came and went the seasons,
And better days came too ;
The ox-plow broke the prairie,
The settlers' number grew
A State, a noble fabric.
From wilderness arose;
The State may live forever,
But he who builds it goes.
THE PASSING OF THE CABIN
So, 'neath the pines he planted,
Walked forth the frontier man;
New dwelling stood behind him.
Old cabin stood in van.
With light the sunbeams crowned him,
Birds cooed or else did sing.
The squirrels leaped around him,
And all proclaimed him king.
THE PASSING OF THE CABIN.
The little log cabin
In the edge of the wood
Stands lone and forsaken
Thro' sunshine and flood.
The oaks throw their shadows.
And the cottonwoods too.
Upon the old roof-boards,
And rains filter through.
The fox-squirrel climbs o'er it.
And he gnaws there his nut;
There oft the quail perches.
And whistles his note.
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By an outgoing tide:'
THE PASSING OF THE CABIN Page Thirty-three
There saucy woodpeckers
With their hammers oÂ£t beat
On logs old and wormy,
Then crow and retreat.
The window is boarded,
And the chinking drops out;
Nailed up is the fireplace.
And weeds grow about.
The door with its latch-string
From its wood-hinge is torn,
On hinges of metal
Another is borne.
Near by is a railway,
And behind is a road;
But fronts to the forest
This hut of the wood.
The cabin is haunted.
But be free of your fears,
'Tis haunted with visions
Of brave pioneers.
Draw near this log temple.
Open sof cities far away.
But the men from town and palaces,
Who go to hunt and fish.
Of the guide with belt for gallowses
Must ask to have their wish ;
Where the wolf and bear have houses
The townsmen can not say,
Nor of moose whereat he browses, â€”
The town's too far away.
From New York a Moneypocket,
Both weasel-faced and brow'd,
Came and sputtered, like a rocket.
Of city sports and crowd.
Till the guide, to quench this folly.
In native scorn did say,
"Health and sport are HERE, b'gollyâ€”
You live too far away."
Often when I look around me,
In country or in town,
Poverty and pride confound me
With scenes that break me down ;
Tragic things with comic falling,
Because, by night and day.
Pleasure's camp from home and calling
Is pitched too far away.
TOO FAR fK\N A\
In the Church the Rev. Brassy