Madge Morris Wagner.

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From the night wind the sigh that he heard,
Or mix him the tints of the rainbow,

Or write out the song of a bird ?

I thought I could write you a poem,

But over the wreckful sea
The traitorous Caprean maidens

Were singing their songs to me.
I could not — I never could write it,

Tho' mine were all poesy's tiars, .



LITTLE BERTIE. II7

Tho' my pen. were the plume of an angel,

And dipped in the vestal fires —
Only a god can write you

The poem your heart desires.



LITTLE BERTIE.

Once the angels up in heaven
Pushed the gates of gold apart,

And sent the brightest of their number
Down to bless a mother's heart.

Bertie, sunshine of the household,
Like some fair and fragile flower.

Grew a dainty rose-bud maiden,
Fairer, sweeter, hour by hour.

But the winds of life were dreary.
And its songs her ear oppressed,

And the little maiden, weary,

Drooped and laid her down to rest ;

And the angels up in heaven
Pushed the gates of gold apart,

And took the precious, priceless spirit
Back into the Father's heart.



Il8 WISHES.

Close the brown eyes sweet and tender,

Fold the hands so waxen fair,
O'er the dimpled, snowy shoulders.

Loose her wondrous shining hair.

Never more will joy or sorrow

Break her silent, sinless rest ;
You loved her with your earth-born worship.

But the angels loved her best.



WISHES.

I wish that I could hold my father's hand

Against my lips in reverence and truth —

Ahd ask him to forgive each act of mine,

That grieved him in my thoughtless, wayward youth.

I wish those sweet, dark pleading eyes of hers,
(The child whose precious life I made a shrine
To worship at) from that dim shadow-land,
Would look less sorrowfully into mine.

I wish that I could lock the gate, and lose
The keys, to folly's fount of fruitless tears —
That I could keep my hands from reachmg for
The hollow phantom of the shapeless years.



FORGOTTEN HEROES. II9

When death has solved its mystery of pain,

When I have crossed the bridge from sphere to sphere,

I wish that God would let me come again,

And tell you what I could not tell you here.



FOKGOTTEN HEROES.

What is that horrible din on the street.

Above all the noise of the hurrying crowd ?

An organ-grinder out on his beat !

Strange such a nuisance is ever allowed

To encumber the ground and annoy people so ;

The tune is enough to drive any one mad.
Who could write out a thought with that racket below?

A whole morning wasted ! I declare, it's too bad !

If the man who invented that horrid machine
Isn't warming his toes down in Tophet to-day

With the craziest organ that ever was seen,

Then things are misstated. I — what did you say?

** A soldier that's making that dolorous sound ? "
You're surely mistaken. Let's see. What's that
large

White card on his breast ? " Made blind by a wound
Received at Chapultepec, leading a charge."



I20 FORGOTTEN HEROES.

As I live, 'tis a soldier ! His hair is as white
As the snow of the poles, and his trembling form

Is bowed with the weight of its years — what a sight —
The giant oak's withering after the storm.

Old man, let me shake your one brown wrinkled hand
While I sigh for the wrong that has left you this lot.

I'll drop a' poor dollar, too, into your palm ;
I wish 'twas a thousand — it's all I have got.

Nay, thank me not, soldier; I owe it to you.

'Tis never a charity gratitude gives.
Alone to such hearts of the loyal and true

Our nation to-day owes the boon that she lives.

And my own dear father might stand in your place.

He, too, was a soldier, and fought with the brave.
A kindlier fortune stooped down to embrace ;

Death made him a couch in the vault of the grave.

Then, soldier, I pray you play for me again,
And softly, sing softly, " Pass under the Rod,"

Your rythm of sadness is sweet in its pain

As the song that the angels are singing to God.

Must you go ? Then farewell, if you must go so soon.

O, Providence, strange are the ways of thy might !
The hand that is turning that pitiful tune

Has wielded a saber in Liberty's fight.



ISOLDE TO SIR TRISTRAM. 121

That tremulous voice that is pleading so low

Has shouted a charge, while the foe has stood dumb?

Those tired, worn feet, that so tottering go.
Have started at sound of the reveille drum.

Unwearied, unfaltering, have marched up the hight
Where the bristling bayonets guardian kept;

Those sad ey es now locked in the thralldom of night
Have sentinel watched while an army has slept.

An American soldier, a beggar to bend !

Gracious heaven! What a spectacle this of our own!
What subject for artist in colors to blend —

For chisel of sculptor to carve out in stone !

A blind, cripple soldier ! and begging the street

In a land whose proud honor his quick steel has kept!

The morn of his manhood he laid at her feet.
Has his country forgotten ? Has Liberty slept ?



ISOLDE TO SIR TRISTEAM.

Oh. hungry heart, that searchest all in vain
For that thy life most craves and needs — soul-rest,
To me, instinctive, comes thy cry of pain,
And this : that thou couldst find it on my breast.



122 ISOLDE TO SIR TRISTRAM.

He were a fool who would sit pining down
And by a Dian's frozen beauty die,
When Phryne stood with Nature's royal crown
Of Womanhood, unbound, inviting by !

I am not beautiful ; the partial gods

Gave to me neither perfect form nor face,

And yet, methinks, if thou wouldst come, the odds

Thou'dst swear were with the subtle innate grace

Would that thou from mine flash all thy beings o'er
If that thy hand but touch my finger tips ;
And Orient wines, aye, draughts that Peris pour,
Were less intoxicating than my lips.

I'd take thee from the ice-imprisoned poles
To where love's islands meet the kissing sun,
And thou shouldst learn the ecstacy of souls
Attracted, met and melted into one.

Enraptured, gazing down into my -face.
Thou wouldst forget the gods left aught to prize :
Thou'dst think the world were clasped in thine embrace
And Heaven's stars were lighted from my eyes.

The passioned thrill that trembles in my breast
Came with my fierce blood from the fiery South.
I hold a chalice brimmed with love and rest
For thee ; wilt come and drink it from my mouth ?



"till the sea gives up its dead." 123



"TILL THE SEA GIVES UP ITS DEAD."

He sailed away — o'er the sea away,

Your sailor brave ;
Your tears fell fast, but they could not stay

Your sailor brave.
He left on your lips his love's caress.
He whispered in love's low tenderness
His fond adieu ; and you tried to share
The zealful ardor that called him there ;
You could not hear that the sad waves said,

" Till the sea gives up its dead."
The shivering, hungry, treacherous waves
That covered a thousand sailors' graves.
Crept out to your feet and in warning said :

•' Till the sea gives up its dead."

Away to the frozen North he sailed —

Your sailor brave ;
The icy bars of the North enj ailed

Your sailor brave.
The snow-wind came with a moaning start,
Chilling the blood to his warm brave heart ;
He could not hear that each fierce blast said

" Till the sea gives up its dead."
The pitiless, soulless, death ful blasts.
That rattled a thousand blackening masts.
In his own ship's rigging sang and said

"Till the sea gives up its dead."



124 TILL THE SEA GIVES UP ITS DEAD.

O wife, and mother, you long will wait

For your sailor brave ;
You long will watch by the Golden Gate

For your sailor brave.
The way from the fields of snow is long,
And the icy bars of the North are strong —
And the waves that laughed at your sorrow said

"Till the sea gives up its dead."

Many a heart with your own will wait

For your sailor brave ;
Will search for a sign to know the fate

Of your sailor brave,
But the ice king holds his treasures well,
And the mocking seas no secret tell —
And each moaning blast of the snow-wind said

" Till the sea gives up its dead."

O desolate woman ; in vain you sigh

For your sailor brave ;
The cry of your heart in its pain will die

For your sailor brave.
Who tears the veil from that frozen door,
To his home and his friends returns no more.
Your eyes will dim, and your hopes will set
For your love who sailed on the lost Jeannette.
The frosty breath of the polar skies
Has kissed the light in your sailor's eyes.
And the snow will pillow your lost love's head,

" Till the sea gives up its dead."



FRAGMENTS.



FEAGMENTS.



125



O, drearily falling Autumn rain,

O, cold October rain ;
There's weariness in your sound to-night,
A tired sigh, and a touch of blight,

And a sob of pain.
Behind the curtains the soft lights gleam
Bright as the glint of a lover's dream ;
In mirth, and music, and dance, and song,
Merrily speed the hours along.
A world of beauty, and warmth, and glow,
A world that you cannot touch you know ;

O, dreary rain !
There's never a sigh or a touch of blight,

Or a sob of pain ;
But my heart is akin to you to-night —

O, cold October rain.



I have never, you think, a serious thought,

My friend —
Never a moment by sorrow taught

Its sympathy to lend.
Can you by the light of laughing eyes
See all there is in the heart that Hes

Under a smile, my friend ?



126 FRAGMENTS.

Forever wrapped in their glittering shrouds

Of snow,
Are the mountain peaks that touch the clouds ;

But ah, my friend, you know
There are smoldering fiires that never rest,
And earthquakes hid in the mountains breast,

Under the cold, white snow.



The musical chiming of wedding bells ;
The slow, slow tolling of dirgeful knells ;
A lover's kiss, and a sweet good-bye ;
A mourner's tears, and a dying sigh ;
A night spent gaily in dance and song ;
A night in a woeful vigil long ;
Hearts that jest at a thought of pain ;
And hearts that will never be glad again ;
Over and over, the rose and the mould ;
And the social tale of the world is told.



Wild and high the breezes sweep

And soft and low,
From Pacific's heaving deep.

And Sierra's snow,
And slowly Autumn's shadows creep

O'er Summer's glow.



FRAGMENTS. 1 27

The shimmering robe of the Summer,

With its threads of burnished gold,
The hands of an " angel comer "

Into a shroud enfold.
Gone is the red of the berries

That burned in the stain of her lips,
Faded the pink of the cherries

That tmted her finger-tips.
Autumn, with softest wooing,

Kissed the light of her brow ;
But his touch was her life's undoing —

Summer is dying now.



Go down in the perilous depths of the sea

Where its pearly treasures are ;
Bring gems that have lain in a dead man's eyes,

To braid in a maiden's hair.

Bring the gorgeous weft from orient looms

Proud fashion's queen to lave, —
Each thread is wrought with the thread of a life,

And stained with the tear of a slave.



The violet buds of the May-time
Died with the May's sweet breath.

And June, with its passioned wooing,
Is kissing the rose to death.



128 FRAGMENTS.

Chime loud a requiem in cathedral towers,
Old melancholy Lent to-day is dead. —

We'll fold his hands and heap white Easter flowers
Upon its coffined head.



O hearts that are world-a-weary,
O lives that are lived in vain,

O feverish maze of aimless days,
Ye follow in Fashion's train.



The buds of the spring-time and summer's long hours

In this silvery cup now we place;
May the roses of autumn, and winters snow flowers,

Bloom bright in a golden vase.



But one little stocking ! there used to be two
Hung up for the Christmas treasures ;

I dropped in a tear as I fifled it anew —
Too sad are the Christmas pleasures.

O sainted, O sweet, Mother^Mary !

For motherhood's blessing and dearth,
Put a gift in the stocking in heaven

And say its from mamma on earth.



THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.



129



THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.

" What will you give me ? " I asked him —

My lover of long ago.
" What shall I keep to remember

That ever you loved me so ? "
"Little one," softly he ansvi^ered,

" To keep you in mind of your loss,
Long as you live, for a token,

I'll make you the sign of the cross."

Light as the touch of the Zephyr

That blows in the nights of the South,
With my face in his hands — he kissed me

On forehead, and eyes, and mouth.
I could forget that he loved me.

Forget, too, the pain of my loss.
But hid in my bosom forever.

Is burning his sign of the cross .



130 EPHEMERALS.



EPHEMEEALS.

One year ago, one little year, to-day,

We wandered far among the fields and flowers,

And time, it seemed, must be one long sweet May
Of beauty laden hours.

You gathered for me then these leaves and flowers,
And twined them thus, a tiny, wild bouquet.

I kissed them, dreaming of the blissful hours
That must be always May.

And told you that I'd keep the gift you gave
As long as T should love you ; and I thought,
" They'll lay them on my breast when to the grave
Its loves and dreams are brought."

Only one little year, and see! to-day,

Though earth is glad again in May's bright hours,
My hand has crushed to dust, and flung away

Your gift of faded flowers.

And I have learned that May-time is a day
That Summer's wooing lips will kiss to death.

And I have learned that love's a tender lay
Lost in its own sweet breath.



CHANGED. 131



CHANGED.

And so you silently have dropped me out

Of all your plans, and dreams, your hopes, your heart ;

I once had all your life, my own about,

— I now, have not one little part.

Ah ! well ; goodbye, we'll go our ways ; and meet
On that cold plane where friendship calmly stands —
Nor ever feel that once our pulses beat
To fever-tide, at just a clasp of hands,

I do not blame you that your heart forgot

To lay its crown forever at one shrine —

It is the world's own way, and you are not

To blame because the world's way was not mine.

Goodbye, I say it ling'ring on the word —
For pain is always aftermath of joy,
And I had rather lose the gift that stirred
My soul to life, than keep it till it cloy.



132 TO BELLE.



TO BELLE.



I have folded them up, and put them away,
Each dainty garment you used to wear,
The Httle kid shoes with tasseled tops,
And the long bright lock of your golden hair ;
And the hot tears fell unchecked, untold,
Over garment, and shoe, and tress of gold.

The doll with blue eyes and " real hair,"

That you "named after Mamma," and used to pet-

I hugged it close to my heart just now.

And cried on its head till its curls were wet.

And the little dishes — the china cups
And saucers, and plates with gilded bands,
You washed them last and piled them up here
In this painted box with your dear, dear hands
I very near dropped and broke them to-day
When I gathered them up to put them away.

There's the music-book Mith the lesson marked,
Where your fingers weakened with slow disease,
Ran over the notes, and tired, and failed,
And fell from the task on the ivory keys.



TO BELLE. 133

And I found a letter among the things
That were idly thrown on an idle stand,
" My precious Mamma," the lines began
Wrote in the scrawl of a childish hand.

I little dreamed when I read it o'er,
And carelessly laid it here away,

That through blinding tears for your sweet dead face,

1 would read the letter again to-day.

Every place in this desolate house,

From night to night, and from dawn to dawn.

Wherever I go, wherever I look

There is something to mind me that you are gone.

So I folded them up and put them away
Each dainty garment you used to wear,
The little kid shoes with tasseled tops,
And the long bright lock of your golden hair,
And the hot tears fell unchecked, untold,
Over garment, and shoe, and tress of gold.

I folded them up and put them away,
And locked them out of my sight forever ;
And I have not spoken your name since then
To keep from thinking ; O vain endeavor !
When has turning a key forgetfulness brought ?
And who can limit the flight of a thought?

I shut the door of my lonesome heart.
And curtained it o'er with a heartless air.



134 . TO BELLE.

I laugh, and jest with the friends I meet

And they — they think that I do not care,
But I hear a voice that the grave has hid, .
And I see a face through the coffin lid.

Everywhere in the desolate world

From night to night, and from dawn to dawn,

Wherever I go, whatever I see

There is. something to mind me that you are gone.



GOLDEN ERA COMPANY'S

^NEWIPUBLICATIONS.^



SHORT STORIES BY CALIFORNIA AUTHORS.

Being Original Stories by Ella Sterling Cummins, Mary W. Glascock, H. B.
McDowell, Will S. Green, W. A. Cheney, Ben C. Truman, Harr Wagner, J. W.
Gaily. Elegantly bound in cloth. Price, $1.00. Cheap paper edition for sale by all
news dealers, only 25 cents.

POEMS, BY J. P. STEELL.

With frontispiece. Being a collection of the author's best efforts in verse. A book
that is likely to cause some stir in literary and artistic circles. In press, bound in
cloth. Price, ?1. 25.

NATURE'S BY-WAYS IN CALIFORNIA.

Complete in one llarge quarto volume. Size of page, 12X18. Price, $7.50 and $10
per copy. Edited by Harr Wagner, A.B., (Editor of the " Golden Era.")

Nature's By- Ways in California will comprise complete illustrated sketches
of Old Trails, Across Fields, Past Deserted Cabins, Through Gardens, Over Moun-
tains, Floating Down Romantic Streams, In the Meadows, Laughing at Nature,
Glancing at the Beauties of Country Life, And at Last, Sleeping in Nature's High-
way. The work will contain upward of one hundred wood engravings. Each copy
will contain an extra Photo-gravure, duplicated on satin. The editor has secured
the co-operation of Virgil Williams, director of the Art School, M. Straus, A. D.
Cooper, and other artists. This will be a guarantee of the careful artistic finish of
the work.

Conditions of Publication— The original subscription list will be limited
strictly to five hundred copies. A special title page will be printed for each of the
five hundred copies, with the name of the subscribers engraved in gilt. The names
of the original subscribers will be inserted in all the copies of the book, as a testi-
monial of their appreciation and substantial aid in producing a work that aims to
be a credit to California and her people.

PIONEER EDITION OF "GOLDEN ERA"

Comprises Reminiscences, by early Californians; Stories, by native sons; Poetry,
by native daughters; Yarns, by old prospectors; Romantic Stories of Gold Hunt-
ers, by well-known writers; A Museum of Old Jokes, by one and all; Illustrations,
engraved by Edwin M. Hay; Biographical Sketches, by "the staff. Autobiographies,
by prominent people. Price, 25 cents. For sale by all news-dealers.



m^Q^stf/^





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Online LibraryMadge Morris WagnerPoems → online text (page 5 of 5)