A Sheaf of Grain,
AN OI^D GRANGER.
REPUBLICAN BOOK AND JOB PRINTING ESTABLISH3IENT
" Another book ! '' the iudigiiant public cries,
As, piles on piles, the unwelcome volumes rise I
" Another tax on patience, purse and brain,
For fame just printetl, or for greed of gain I ''
Cease, gentle Public! spare the censor's ta-sfcs!
No fame the author seeks,^no ducats asks!
His meek ambition never soared so high,
To please, by published books, the public eye I
'Tis printed, true : in type its stanzas stare t
A few loved friends have urged him th\is to dare
The critic's scowl, the scholar's censuring frowa.
The wit's sharp joke, the tattle of the town I
Friends say : 'â€¢ Whafs printed for our eyes alone
Is not Sir Critic's business, but our own!"
All this is true, good friends ! but you'll confess.
Dame Grundy scans your dinners, and yotir dress;
Which, though your private ventures, all the more
That bustling lady claims the right to score !
Your manners, morals, moods, her strictures wait,
Your nose, if sharp or pug ; your form, your gait !
Would interview your nerves, dissect your brain.
And its " gray matter " weigh, by ounce and grain !
"Well," answer prompt my friends, "what does it boot,
j(When not of fame nor wealth you're in pursuit)
What critics say ?" True logic, I admit.
A lash stings, though one's not deserving it !
And when the critic, in a playful mood.
Dubs me "Spring poet," "literary dude,"
Or "crank," or "crazed," â€” if such sharp quips I hear,
'TwOl much offend my ample granger ear !
"In a few years, your life's probation o'er
They'll vex those broad, expansive ears no more !
Banish your fears, â€” your modest doubts repress :
Your friends, who read, will suffer most, I guess !"
And so, half-willing to be drawTi along
((Though shamming modesty) to sing my song,
i( Like rustic swain, coaxed by his lady fair,)
I give my quavering numbers to the air !
A T^ale of Ancient Hungary.
BY JAMES W. TEMPLE.
UPERT THE STRONG, as ancieut legends show,
On the broad Danube, centuries ago
â– s^f A lofty castle built ; the dashing wave
' Doth to this day its crumbling ruins lave ;
'^^ A Baron bold, whose fame the world did fill,
^â– ^ Of giant stature, and unbending will.
Here, in his hold impregnable and vast
In haughty state stout Rupert's days were passed;
Broad were his lands, unquestioned was his sway,
His will, the law 'twas death to disobey !
Prompt vassals sprang to catch his lightest word.
Proud of their thralldom to so bold a lord,
Fierce in the field, dark-browed, and huge of limb,
His weaker neighbors feared yet honored him !
A SHEAF OF GRAIN.
His 'was the name, and his the banner dread,
Before whose charge the affri^'hted Moslem fled.
What time, incautious, o'er tlie ravished plains
Their plundering bands approached his wide domains,
When weaker nobles, driven from their grounds,
Took refuge in their castles' safer bounds !
The bloody tale few reached their homes to tell,
How on their unguarded flanks flerce Rupert fell ;
Bow, swung by arms of more than mortal might,
One ponderous axe gleamed pitiless and bright, â€”
Clove skull and bone, crashed stoutest armor through.
While dying Turks groaned their last " Alia hu !"
This was their last vain effort ; from that hour
Waned the proud Crescent's erst aggressive power ;
And Bux^ert, flushed with triumph, turned in pride,
To rule despotic o'er the Danube's side.
But not on earth is perfect bliss e'er found.
Thf tempter plied his trade on Eden's ground,
Nor, since that dreadful day of shame and sin.
Can wall or barrier bar his entering in !
Stout Baron Rupert, in his high estate
Cherished one weakness common to the great,
Ambition to be greater ! "In his youth
Had not his prowess won him fame, forsooth ?
Were not his valiant deeds on every tongxie
Where'er the praise of chivalry was sung?
Did not that brawny arm, long years ago
Win these broad acres from a vanquished foe ?
Why rest content with great achievements done,
While fairer provinces might yet be won ?"
Thus, when we're blest beyond our merits here,
Some lurking Devil whispers in our ear,
Starts fell ambition from his sleep, or calls
Insurgent Passions forth to storm our walls !
But fate seemed hostile to the Baron's plan.
A SHEAF OF GRAIN. 7
His monarch, prompt to check a risintr man
Whose growing power might trench npon his own,
Scotched the young serpent ere its fangs were grown !
A royal edict, 'neath his seal and hand
Confirmed the hard-won title to his land
By letters-patent, over hill and plain, â€”
Fixed metes and bounds to Rupert's vast domain ;
Sealed the high charter with his signet ring,
But " thus far and no farther, saith the King !"
Hemmed in aiid hampered by the King's decree.
Fierce Rupert chafed in secret. " Why should he
Who wrested from the foe this fair estate,
And 'gainst the conquering Moslem closed the gate.
Be caged and mewed up in his present bounds,
With navight to amuse him but his horse and hounds,
While mid rich Southern plains, a temptmg prize.
O'er mosque and mound the Turk's curst Crescent flies ?"
Rupert was wise : 'twere madne.ss at this hour
To brave his monarch's wrath, and breast his power !
He yields him to his King, or seems to yield.
And draws his fierce retaineTs from the field.
But ever thence might Hungary's monarch know
And count his mightiest vassal as his foe !
For, from that hour, in Rvipert's seething brain
Couched dark Rebellion, fierce to break his chain !
The Baron had a son, a gallant youth, -
Strong, fearless as himself, the soul of truth.
The flower of chivalry ; famed, far and near
For feats of daring ere his twentieth year,
At which our tale begins. His was the blow
First in the chase to lay the gaunt wolf low.
Or, in its woody haunts, beyond his train,
Stretch the grim, white-tusk*'d boar upon the plain !
No spear in Hungary 'gainst his could stand, â€”
No skill or strength resist his matchless brand !
A SHEAF OF GRAIN.
Wilfred his name. His frame, well-kuit and tall,
Couspicuous shone at tournament or ball ;
His form, the embodiment of stately grace,
Matched the frank beauty of his manly face ;
And the calm glances of his dark blue eye
Spoke of a gentle heart and courage high.
This son, his haughtj' sire, ( who loved him well
But loved ambition more,) so legends tell.
Had pledged, in furtherance of his deep-laid plans
To wed the daughter of Count Rosencrans,
His ally and sworn friend. And oft of late
As Wilfred swiftly grew to man's estate,
The Baron "gan to hint, in cautious phrase,
Of plans long cherished, and of coming days
"When, with some high-born lady for his mate,
His gallant son should magnify his state ;
And, linking to their cause a friendly power,
Prepare to seize Fate's first auspicious hour,
And see, if Hungary's King would saj'^ them nay,
When his best Barons swore to have their way !"
Thus did the warlike sire his plans impart,
And seek to plant ambition in his heart.
And thirst for fame, so potent with the young;
But Wilfred ominously held his tongue,
Or answered still, in youth's indifferent way,
"'Twould do to talk about some future day."'
The Baron, anxious grown, yet loath to press
The matter, knowing Love is fetterless,
And scorns the semblance of a curb or chain,
Tried all his arts, but found persuasion vain ;
Then, grown impatient at the youth's delay.
Grew stern at length, and warned him to obey :
"Count Rosencrans, a Knight well known to fame,
A daughter hath, sole heiress to his name.
Fame speaks her beautiful beyond compare,
A SHEAF OF GRAIN. 9
Her nature uoble, aud her virtues rare.
Her I would have thee wed ! Nay, do uot frown,
Her thou shalt wed before the year be liowii.
Or learn, what thou of late seem\st doubting stilL
.Thy sire hath means to bend thy stubborn will !"'
Answered his son. respectful still, and calm :
" Father, to you I owe whate'er I am ;
And if my life can liquidate the debt,
That life I'll yield before the sun is set !
If aught of service at my bauds you ask
That honor sanctions, freely name the task !
To wed, where love is not, our honor soils, â€”
Conscience forbids, and nature's self recoils !
False were I to my God, myself, aud thee.
And doubly false to her you'd mate with me.
If, bitter guerdon to her matchless charms,
I go. a perjured husband, to her arms !"'
A strange look crossed fierce Raperi's swarthy face
And left it pale as death ! He paused a space.
Strode thrice across the hall to cool his ire,
Then with forced calmness spoke the offended sire :
" Fair son of mine, thy words aud mien forecast
A clash of wills, our first, â€” 'twill be our last !
Thy honor, silly boy ! Thy conscience too.
Forbid to give thy sire obedience due !
A pretty tale, forsooth ! aud titter far
For minstrel wight who twangs the light guitar,
And sings soft nonsense to weak maiden's ear,
Than thou, a Knight to tell, thy sire to hear !
Hear then my word ! This night, outside the gate,
A mounted convoy shall thy coming wait.
Inquire not where thou goest. nor seek to know
More of thy fate than that I choose to show ;
In strict seclusion, in a lonely tower
Thou shalt remain a prisoner from this hour ;
10 A SHEAF OF GRAIN.
Guards shall thy safety vouch, thy wants supply,â€”
Remain, and live,â€” seek to escape, and die!
There, ample space thy leisure may afford
To ponder o'er thy sire's unheeded word !
When next I see thee, boy, thy part will be,
To wed the noble mate I choose for thee, â€”
Or. if thy stubborn will still holds its sway
The world will lose thee from that fatal day!
Back to thy prison sent, a living tomb.
Thy name, thy fame, shall perish in its gloom !
Thy vaunted strength, thy skill in arms no more
Shall win renown ;â€” thy short career is o'er !
No more thy lance, well poised, shall drink the life
Of snarling wolf, or end the tourney's strife.
There yet is time ! one word, rash boy, will save
Thy youth's fair promise from a living grave !
Thou wilt not speakâ€” I know thy pride !â€” 'tis well,â€”
We meet not soon again. Till then farewell !
This much I ask-thy promise, ere we part.
To keep thy name, thy rank, locked in thy heart !
And thy parole that, till the year be flown
Thy boasted honor be thy guard alone.
To keep thee in thy bounds. "Thou'lt not rebel?"
I know thy truth, good son ! Again, farewell !"
When our first parents fled through Eden's gate,
The mighty forest, piteous of their fate
Stretched its vast arms above their shrinking forms.
And gave them shelter from the sun and storms !
Beneath its leafy screen their homes they made,â€”
Among its giant trunks their children played;â€”
Till, urged by growing needs, with growing skill
They learned to hew, and frame, and carve at will.
Soon, human habitations rose to view.
Vast temples reared their spires, and cities grew!
A SHEAF OF GRAIX. 11
Then man, crowned King of forest, field and plain,
Casts wistful eyes across the trackless main, â€”
Scans the horizeii where, from waters blue
Low, verdant isles rise dimly into view ; â€”
Then to the forest turns; beteith his strokes.
Fall with resounding crash its mighty oaks !
His skillful hands their shapely outlines hew.
Burn their hard hearts, and launch the light canoe.
Soon, bolder grown, he seeks the broader seas.
And mighty ships spread canvas to the breeze.
Whose outstretched wings bear Commerce on her way,
And Empire, eager to extend her sway;
And blest Religion, with the holy Word,
Till Earth's remotest isles shall praise the Lord !
Thus doth the Forest, hospitable still,
Befriend and shelter man, through good and ill.
In youth and age alike his constant friend,â€”
Nor even in death doth its kind service end ;
His bier, his coflin, and the cypress tree
That shades his tomb, kind forest, come from thee!
Deep in a vast, unl)roken solitiide
In sylvan shade a lonely Fortress stood.
Built in those days when the advancing Turk
Gave Europe all she craved of bloody work !
'Twas on the verge of Rupert's wide domain.
Where wood-crowned hills descend to wooded plain,-
Where snow-capped mountains in the sunlight glow.
And deeper mark their shadowy flanks below.
No life seems near, save what its walls enfold.
And the few guards who round this lonely hold
Keep sullen watch and ward. No sound is heard,
Save the shrill whistle of some passing bird,
Or howl of wolf, or mountain eagle's yell.
Re-echoing weirdly through the darkling dell!
12 A SHEAF OF GRAIN.
Within the fort, little does Wilfred find
To charm the senses or beguile the mind.
Of massive rocks, rough-hewTi, the walls were made
Cemented each to each. A dim light strayed
Through barred embrasures, struggling through the gloom,.
And but half lighting up each sombre I'oom ;
No ornaments the blackened timbers bore
From smoke-stained overlays to puncheon floor.
Save where, from darkened niche or rafter brown,
Pierce boars'-head grinned, or antlered stag looked down,.
Or wolf's gaunt jaws, or wild-cat's glaring eyes
Spoke the rude skill which dressed the hunter's prize.
Scant furniture it held: a pallet rude;
A table; benches, from the neighboring wood
Rough-hewn; some narrow shelves, on which were stored
A few choice souvenirs, a preciouÂ« hoard.
His hariJ, once loved, unvalued and unstrung,
Beside his useless sword neglected hung!
Xear these, from the dark v/all, all out of place
It seemed, looked down his sainted mother's face,
(Taken when young â€” alas, too young she died!)
Yet harp and face were fitly side by side, â€”
Both seemed to typify the loved and dead, â€”
The semblance present, but the spirit fled I
Around the walls, on wooden brackets hung
His knightly armor, â€” for the lad was young,
Xor had the false humility to hide
These tokens of an honorable pride !
Such pi'ide the soldier hath, who, doomed to die,
Dons his best trappings as the hour draws nigh, â€”
His stars and medals on bis breast arrayed.
Steps proudly forth to death, in Dress Parade 1
Hithci- had Wilfred come. His courage high
Scorned "weak complaint, and checked each rising sigh;;
Inured to hardship, little did he care
A SHEAF OF GRAIN. 13
How rude his eoueh, how simple was his fare !
Each bare, black wall, each dimly-lighted room,
Matched but too well his spirit's sullen gloom,
While angry passions raged, but half siippressed
And just resentment fired his youthful breast !
And here, like prisoned panther, day by day
He paced with restless steps the hours away.
Nor cared to extend his walks, so dark his mood,
Nor scarce look forth beyond the narrow rood
The palisades enclosed â€” nor deigned to test
His jailor's courteous offer, kindly pressed.
Of steed and tendance, should he wish to ride,
Or, for his walks, a trusty squire and guide.
It chanced, one morning, while the Spring was young,
When her first verdure on the branches hung
That swept the windows of the woodland tower,
Filling the air with breath of leaf and flower, â€”
Wilfred, half-dreaming lay. A gentle mood
Had soothed in part the fever of his blood;
And Hope, descending with the breath of Spring,
In his bruised heart her siren song 'gan sing!
While thus in listless mood our hero lay.
And dreamed the idle hours of morn away,
A girlish voice was heard ! At first so low
And faintly did its murmuring accents flow.
His half awakened senses deemed it still
But the low cadence of the mountain rill;
Then, as the silvery accents rose and fell
His ear and heart took in their meaning well.
What is life to souls that mourn ?
What is Spring to heart that's sere?
Vernal flowers and birds return
14 A SHEAF OF GHAIN.
But Winter's gloom shrouds all my year !
What to me is moruing bright,â€”
What the clear sky's liquid blue ?
Souls bowed down by sorrow's might
Naught of heavenly beauty view !
Happy heart whose love is free !
Life for such is endless Spring,
Darkest night shall lighted be
By Love's aui'oral shimmering !
Birds shall sing from leafless tree, â€”
Koses bloom 'neath Winter's snow.
Where both heart and hand are free, â€”
Where love and plight together go !
"Some peasant maid," he thought, "or soldier's childy
Sharing his exile in this forest wild.
A lonely lot, poor maid ! Yet voice more sweet,
(Though fraught with pain,) mine ears did never greet
In lordly hall, or high-born lady's bower !
Strange, that a peasant's voice should have such pov.er
To thrill my soul, my startled sense to chain,
And wake to life my deadened heart again !
Yet 'tis not strange. Our serfs mid want and care
Solace their sordid toils with music rare;
Harps twang in humblest huts, and from among
Their rough-chinked walls ring forth rich bursts of son g.
Poor child ! Is not her lonely lot enough,
With poverty and toil, companions rough â€”
Doomed thus Vjy cruel destiny to dwell
Like grey-beard hermiÂ«t in his sunless cell,
But e'en lier peasant heart must not be free
To wed its choice ? Must she Jbe sold, like me,
To satisfy ambition's fierce desire.
Or swell the fortunes of some churlish sire ? "
A SHEAF OF GRAIN. 15
Thus mused youu^' Wilfred when the song had ceased.
And though with every day the wish increased
(Fed by odd scraps of intercepted song
Caught up by random winds and borne along,)
To meet the peasant maid who sang so well,
His pride forbade, and fear to break the spell !
"What if the voice he joyed to hear, were joined
To rude, coarse features, and a vulgar mind ?
And those soft accents rose, so sweetly pure.
From the low daughter of some red-faced boor.
Whose plow-boy lover had proved false, or grown
To slight the love too lightly made his own !"
And so the days went by, till favoring fate
Brought a chance meeting at the outer gate !
â– Twas a bright morning in the month of May
When Wilfred, casting gloomy pride away,
Stept first beyond the gates. On every side
Dark forests, newly leaved, stretched far and wide.
Save where small fields of grain, in darker green.
Rich with their springtime promise, showed between.
Beyond, high towering o'er the forest-wall,
Dark mountains rose, whence many a waterfall
Flashed in the sun; and many a height was crowned
With wreath of snow on its bare summit bound !
Long gazed our hero on the varied scene.
And longer would have looked, but that between
The landscape and the lad, a vision sped,
Might tempt St. Anthony to raise his head,
And lay his book aside ! A youthful maid
Before him stood; her graceful form arrayed
In plainest garb. Her morning dress of white
Well suited to a day so warm and bright,
Could boast no ornament to lend it grace,
Save, to confine its flowing folds in place,
An azure scarf, whose fringes reached tbe ground,
16 A SHEAF OF GRAIN.
Was loosely o'er her shapely shoulders bound,
Circling her slender waist before it fell,
And helped define her matchless figure well.
'Twas such a simple dress as might array
A burgher's daughter in that early day,â€”
Save that its lack of jewels might confess
Her taste was lietter or her iceaUh was less !
But there was something in her look and mien, â€”
Some chaim of manner, easy to be seen
Biit harder to define â€” a native grace.
Self -poise, and dignity in form and face.
That filled the stranger with a glad surprise,
Before her wondrous beauty charmed his eyes !
A bright young face, whose eyes, like morning dew.
From May's clear heavens stole their liquid blue ;
Nor stopt alone their coloring to secure
But drew expression from that fountain pure !
Cheeks, where the rose did with the lily blend;
Lips, which the rose alone did color lend.
Yet, were you blessed to touch them once, you'd swear
You found the honeysuckle's sweetness there !
To frame her picture, nature paused to throw
Soft, massy ringlets o'er a brow of snow.
That, round her slender neck descending, lay
Rich with the sunlight of the golden day !
Rapt Ijy such vision in so strange a place.
Young Wilfred stopt, and gazed an awkward space.
Blocking the way ! Thus Balaam, all amazed.
Of old upon the unlooked-for angel gazed;
Then, with quick homage, such as courtier pays
To high-born dame, his cap he hastes to raise
And, all respectful, speaks: "If I offend.
Or undue freedom, use, my unknown friend.
By offering speech which usage might deny.
Hear my excuse and judge. A prisoner I, â€”
A SHEAF OF GRAIX. 17
In durauce held, yet for uo fault or crime,
I bide within this fortress for a time !
My rank, my iiame alike forbid to tell, â€”
Why prisoned here, and where I erst did dwell,
This much I say, â€” believe it if you can
Of prisoner wight â€” I am a gentleman !
Further I'd speak with you, if you'll allow, â€”
But if you dovibt me, pass and leave me now !"
Answered the maiden: "Courtesy should teach
'Twere churlish to refuse a captive speech !
And so. Sir Prisoner, what you have to say,
How I may serve you, freely tell, I pray !"
"One question first: Whom do I now address?"
"Sir Prisoner, that I leave you free to guess !"
"Enough ! No right have I to ask your name
(My own witheld), nor whence nor why you came
To this' blank solitude ? But may I know
If yours the lute whence mournful murmurs flow.
And yours the voice from whose sad plaints I gain.
Its owner's heart is not all free from pain ?"
â€¢She started, â€” blushed ; then rallying, answered light :
*' Be not inquisitive, oh captive Knight !
Weird wilds are these ! Those plaintive notes may flow
From airy sprites that haunt the glen below !
Our lives have mystei'ies we may not tell
Howe'er we would. Let mine in silence dwell !
SuflSce to know this much : I tarry here,
Like you, a portion of this passing year.
Like you, I scarce remain form choice, and yet
No prisoner am I. And, since we've met
It may be in my power, while here I stay
To serve you, if you'll frankly point the way."
" In truth ", he said, " small service I require ;
My jailors furnish shelter, food and fire.
'Twould be a lout indeed would fault his fare,
18 A SHEAF OF GRAIN.
Enough foi- health, though i:Â»lain and coarse it were !
Or his rough bed and board. A soldier I,
Unused to life of ease and luxury ;
And, but that idlesse chafes my fretful mood.
And rank injustice stirs rebellious blood ;
And thoughts of what I was, and what might be
So I might but regain my liberty,â€”
And but for clouds that blot my future's sky,
None would repine less at his lot than I !
Enough of this; And, while I may not seek
To question more what you are loth to speak.
Before I tvirn me to my prison den,
Say, may I hope to see you soon again ?"
"Sir Prisoner," said the maid, with glance askant,
" 'Twere vain to promise what one may not grant !
Your guards â€” my duties, may not leave us free
Were such our wish; fitter perhaps 'twould be.
Since Fate has sealed our lips, and drawn her veil
Around our lives â€” and since the painful tale
That binds us to these wilds we may not tell.
Here where by chance we've met we say farewell !
My duties call me now, â€” I may not stay;
Your guard, too, waits ; Sir Prisoner, good day !"
Wilfred was young â€” his early life had sped
In active sports and toils ; the life he led
Before his exile, left him little space
For Love's soft blandishments or Beauty's grace !
His horse, his hounds, his bugle's stirring note, â€”
His blade, deep drinking from the wild boar's throat, â€”
The straining chase of stag up mountain side, â€”
The wolf's fierce howl as on his spear it died, â€”
These were his boyish joys; but when at re.st,
Music had power to soothe his boyish breast;
And oft, when evening closed on daily care.
His harp's wild notes trilled on the moonlit air !
A SUEAF OF GRAIN. 19
But those were stirring times. The Turk still tried
To advauce the Crescent, â€” and, in sullen pride
Checked, but not conquered, showed unbroken front.
And Ilungai-y, that alone had borne the brunt
And held the Moslem back, still stood at bay,
And, like a lion, bari'ed his onward way !
And jarring factions, in the ceaseless storm
Of states chaotic moulding into form,
Bred constant broils; so knights with fame in view
Pound fields enough, and ample work to do.
And' thus it was, like many a youthful knight
Who joyed in sports, and kept his armor bright
For stirring chase, or skirmish with the foe.
Little of woman's ways did Wilfred know !
His warlike sire cared little to engage
In the few pleasures of that warlike age,
But kept his state in gloomy grief and pride
Since the sad morning when his lady died !
No high-born dames, no ladies bright and gay