Burton Egbert Stevenson.

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That dust and days had lent it.

An old, old letter, - folded still!
To read with due composure,
I sought the sun-lit window-sill,
Above the gray enclosure,

That, glimmering in the sultry haze,
Faint-flowered, dimly shaded,
Slumbered like Goldsmith's Madam Blaize,
Bedizened and brocaded.

A queer old place! You'd surely say
Some tea-board garden-maker
Had planned it in Dutch William's day
To please some florist Quaker,

So trim it was. The yew-trees still,
With pious care perverted,
Grew in the same grim shapes; and still
The lipless dolphin spurted;

Still in his wonted state abode
The broken-nosed Apollo;
And still the cypress-arbor showed
The same umbrageous hollow.

Only, - as fresh young Beauty gleams
From coffee-colored laces,
So peeped from its old-fashioned dreams
The fresher modern traces;

For idle mallet, hoop, and ball
Upon the lawn were lying;
A magazine, a tumbled shawl,
Round which the swifts were flying;

And, tossed beside the Guelder rose,
A heap of rainbow knitting,
Where, blinking in her pleased repose,
A Persian cat was sitting.

"A place to love in, - live, - for aye,
If we too, like Tithonus,
Could find some God to stretch the gray
Scant life the Fates have thrown us;

"But now by steam we run our race,
With buttoned heart and pocket,
Our Love's a gilded, surplus grace, -
Just like an empty locket!

"'The time is out of joint.' Who will,
May strive to make it better;
For me, this warm old window-sill,
And this old dusty letter."

"Dear John (the letter ran), it can't, can't be,
For Father's gone to Chorley Fair with Sam,
And Mother's storing Apples, - Prue and Me
Up to our Elbows making Damson Jam:
But we shall meet before a Week is gone, -
''Tis a long Lane that has no Turning,' John!

"Only till Sunday next, and then you'll wait
Behind the White-Thorn, by the broken Stile -
We can go round and catch them at the Gate,
All to Ourselves, for nearly one long Mile;
Dear Prue won't look, and Father he'll go on,
And Sam's two Eyes are all for Cissy, John!

"John, she's so smart, - with every Ribbon new,
Flame-colored Sack, and Crimson Padesoy:
As proud as proud; and has the Vapors too,
Just like My Lady; - calls poor Sam a Boy,
And vows no Sweet-heart's worth the Thinking-on
Till he's past Thirty... I know better, John!

"My Dear, I don't think that I thought of much
Before we knew each other, I and you;
And now, why, John, your least, least Finger-touch,
Gives me enough to think a Summer through.
See, for I send you Something! There, 'tis gone!
Look in this corner, - mind you find it, John!

This was the matter of the note, -
A long-forgot deposit,
Dropped in an Indian dragon's throat
Deep in a fragrant closet,

Piled with a dapper Dresden world, -
Beaux, beauties, prayers, and poses, -
Bonzes with squat legs undercurled,
And great jars filled with roses.

Ah, heart that wrote! Ah, lips that kissed!
You had no thought or presage
Into what keeping you dismissed
Your simple old-world message!

A reverent one. Though we to-day
Distrust beliefs and powers,
The artless, ageless things you say
Are fresh as May's own flowers....

I need not search too much to find
Whose lot it was to send it,
That feel upon me yet the kind,
Soft hand of her who penned it;

And see, through two-score years of smoke,
In by-gone, quaint apparel,
Shine from yon time-black Norway oak
The face of Patience Caryl, -

The pale, smooth forehead, silver-tressed;
The gray gown, primly flowered;
The spotless, stately coif whose crest
Like Hector's horse-plume towered;

And still the sweet half-solemn look
Where some past thought was clinging,
As when one shuts a serious book
To hear the thrushes singing.

I kneel to you! Of those you were,
Whose kind old hearts grow mellow, -
Whose fair old faces grow more fair,
As Point and Flanders yellow;

Whom some old store of garnered grief,
Their placid temples shading,
Crowns like a wreath of autumn leaf
With tender tints of fading.

Peace to your soul! You died unwed -
Despite this loving letter.
And what of John? The less that's said
Of John, I think, the better.

Austin Dobson [1840-1921]


The wanton troopers riding by
Have shot my fawn, and it will die.
Ungentle men! They cannot thrive
Who killed thee. Thou ne'er didst, alive,
Them any harm; alas! nor could
Thy death to them do any good.
I'm sure I never wished them ill,
Nor do I for all this; nor will:
But, if my simple prayers may yet
Prevail with Heaven to forget
Thy murder, I will join my tears
Rather than fail. But O my fears!
It cannot die so. Heaven's King
Keeps register of everything,
And nothing may we use in vain;
Even beasts must be with justice slain;
Else men are made their deodands.
Though they should wash their guilty hands
In this warm life-blood, which doth part
From thine, and wound me to the heart,
Yet could they not be clean; their stain
Is dyed in such a purple grain,
There is not such another in
The world to offer for their sin.

Inconstant Sylvio, when yet
I had not found him counterfeit,
One morning, I remember well,
Tied in this silver chain and bell,
Gave it to me: nay, and I know
What he said then - I'm sure I do.
Said he, "Look how your huntsman here
Hath taught a fawn to hunt his deer!"
But Sylvio soon had me beguiled:
This waxed tame, while he grew wild,
And, quite regardless of my smart,
Left me his fawn, but took his heart.

Thenceforth I set myself to play
My solitary time away
With this; and very well content
Could so mine idle life have spent;
For it was full of sport, and light
Of foot and heart, and did invite
Me to its game: it seemed to bless
Itself in me. How could I less
Than love it? Oh, I cannot be
Unkind to a beast that loveth me!

Had it lived long, I do not know
Whether it, too, might have done so
As Sylvio did; his gifts might be
Perhaps as false, or more, than he.
But I am sure, for aught that I
Could in so short a time espy,
Thy love was far more better than
The love of false and cruel man.

With sweetest milk and sugar first
I it at mine own fingers nursed;
And as it grew, so every day,
It waxed more white and sweet than they.
It had so sweet a breath! and oft
I blushed to see its foot more soft,
And white, shall I say? than my hand -
Nay, any lady's of the land!

It was a wondrous thing how fleet
'Twas on those little silver feet.
With what a pretty skipping grace
It oft would challenge me the race;
And when't had left me far away,
'Twould stay, and run again, and stay;
For it was nimbler much than hinds,
And trod as if on the four winds.

I have a garden of my own,
But so with roses overgrown,
And lilies, that you would it guess
To be a little wilderness;
And all the spring-time of the year
It loved only to be there.
Among the beds of lilies I
Have sought it oft, where it should lie,
Yet could not, till itself would rise,
Find it, although before mine eyes;
For in the flaxen lilies' shade,
It like a bank of lilies laid.
Upon the roses it would feed,
Until its lips e'en seemed to bleed;
And then to me 'twould boldly trip,
And print those roses on my lip.
But all its chief delight was still
On roses thus itself to fill;
And its pure virgin lips to fold
In whitest sheets of lilies cold.
Had it lived long, it would have been
Lilies without, roses within.

O help! O help! I see it faint
And die as calmly as a saint!
See how it weeps! the tears do come
Sad, slowly, dropping like a gum.
So weeps the wounded balsam; so
The holy frankincense doth flow;
The brotherless Heliades
Melt in such amber tears as these.

I in a golden vial will
Keep these two crystal tears, and fill
It, till it doth overflow, with mine,
Then place it in Diana's shrine.

Now my sweet fawn is vanished to
Whither the swans and turtles go;
In fair Elysium to endure
With milk-white lambs and ermines pure.
O, do not run too fast, for I
Will but bespeak thy grave, and die.

First my unhappy statue shall
Be cut in marble; and withal
Let it be weeping too; but there
The engraver sure his art may spare;
For I so truly thee bemoan
That I shall weep though I be stone,
Until my tears, still dropping, wear
My breast, themselves engraving there;
Then at my feet shalt thou be laid,
Of purest alabaster made;
For I would have thine image be
White as I can, though not as thee.

Andrew Marvell [1621-1678]


'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.

Still had she gazed, but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armor's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.

The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched, in vain, to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What Cat's averse to fish?

Presumptous Maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled.)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.

Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to every watery god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirred:
Nor cruel Tom nor Susan heard, -
A Favorite has no friend!

From hence, ye Beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.

Thomas Gray [1716-1771]


Clubby! thou surely art, I ween,
A Puss of most majestic mien,
So stately all thy paces!
With such a philosophic air
Thou seek'st thy professorial chair,
And so demure thy face is!

And as thou sit'st, thine eye seems fraught
With such intensity of thought
That could we read it, knowledge
Would seem to breathe in every mew,
And learning yet undreamt by you
Who dwell in Hall or College.

Oh! when in solemn taciturnity
Thy brain seems wandering through eternity,
What happiness were mine
Could I then catch the thoughts that flow,
Thoughts such as ne'er were hatched below,
But in a head like thine.

Oh then, throughout the livelong day,
With thee I'd sit and purr away
In ecstasy sublime;
And in thy face, as from a book,
I'd drink in science at each look,
Nor fear the lapse of time.

Charles Daubeny [1745-1827]


Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo;

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who, nursed with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confined,
Was still a wild Jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance every night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk, and oats, and straw;
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,
On pippins' russet peel;
And, when his juicy salads failed,
Sliced carrot pleased him well.

A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
Whereon he loved to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
And swing his rump around.

His frisking was at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching showers,
Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And every night at play.

I kept him for his humor's sake,
For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath this walnut-shade
He finds his long, last home,
And waits, in snug concealment laid,
Till gentler Puss shall come.

He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.

William Cowper [1731-1800]


Ye Nymphs! if e'er your eyes were red
With tears o'er hapless favorites shed,
O share Maria's grief!
Her favorite, even in his cage,
(What will not hunger's cruel rage?)
Assassined by a thief.

Where Rhenus strays his vines among,
The egg was laid from which he sprung,
And though by nature mute,
Or only with a whistle blessed,
Well-taught, he all the sounds expressed
Of flageolet or flute.

The honors of his ebon poll
Were brighter than the sleekest mole;
His bosom of the hue
With which Aurora decks the skies,
When piping winds shall soon arise
To sweep away the dew.

Above, below, in all the house,
Dire foe alike of bird and mouse,
No cat had leave to dwell;
And Bully's cage supported stood,
On props of smoothest-shaven wood,
Large-built and latticed well.

Well-latticed, - but the grate, alas!
Not rough with wire of steel or brass,
For Bully's plumage sake,
But smooth with wands from Ouse's side,
With which, when neatly peeled and dried,
The swains their baskets make.

Night veiled the pole - all seemed secure -
When, led by instinct sharp and sure,
Subsistence to provide,
A beast forth sallied on the scout,
Long-backed, long-tailed, with whiskered snout,
And badger-colored hide.

He, entering at the study-door,
Its ample area 'gan explore;
And something in the wind
Conjectured, sniffing round and round,
Better than all the books he found,
Food, chiefly, for the mind.

Just then, by adverse fate impressed
A dream disturbed poor Bully's rest;
In sleep he seemed to view
A rat, fast-clinging to the cage,
And, screaming at the sad presage,
Awoke and found it true.

For, aided both by ear and scent,
Right to his mark the monster went -
Ah, Muse! forbear to speak
Minute the horror that ensued;
His teeth were strong, the cage was wood -
He left poor Bully's beak.

O had he made that too his prey!
That beak, whence issued many a lay
Of such mellifluous tone,
Might have repaid him well, I wote,
For silencing so sweet a throat,
Fast stuck within his own.

Maria weeps, - the Muses mourn; -
So, when by Bacchanalians torn,
On Thracian Hebrus' side
The tree-enchanter Orpheus fell,
His head alone remained to tell
The cruel death he died.

William Cowper [1731-1800]


Shock's fate I mourn; poor Shock is now no more:
Ye Muses! mourn; ye Chambermaids! deplore.
Unhappy Shock! Yet more unhappy fair,
Doomed to survive thy joy and only care.
Thy wretched fingers now no more shall deck,
And tie the favorite ribbon round his neck;
No more thy hand shall smooth his glossy hair,
And comb the wavings of his pendent ear.
Let cease thy flowing grief, forsaken maid!
All mortal pleasures in a moment fade:
Our surest hope is in an hour destroyed,
And love, best gift of Heaven, not long enjoyed.
Methinks I see her frantic with despair,
Her streaming eyes, wrung hands, and flowing hair;
Her Mechlin pinners, rent, the floor bestrow,
And her torn fan gives real signs of woe.
Hence, Superstition! that tormenting guest,
That haunts with fancied fears the coward breast;
No dread events upon this fate attend,
Stream eyes no more, no more thy tresses rend.
Though certain omens oft forewarn a state,
And dying lions show the monarch's fate,
Why should such fears bid Celia's sorrow rise?
For, when a lap-dog falls, no lover dies.
Cease, Celia, cease; restrain thy flowing tears.
Some warmer passion will dispel thy cares.
In man you'll find a more substantial bliss,
More grateful toying and a sweeter kiss.
He's dead. Oh! lay him gently in the ground!
And may his tomb be by this verse renowned:
Here Shock, the pride of all his kind, is laid,
Who fawned like man, but ne'er like man betrayed.

John Gay [1685-1732]


I mourn "Patroclus," whilst I praise
Young "Peter" sleek before the fire,
A proper dog, whose decent ways
Renew the virtues of his sire;
"Patroclus" rests in grassy tomb,
And "Peter" grows into his room.

For though, when Time or Fates consign
The terrier to his latest earth,
Vowing no wastrel of the line
Shall dim the memory of his worth,
I meditate the silkier breeds,
Yet still an Amurath succeeds:

Succeeds to bind the heart again
To watchful eye and strenuous paw,
To tail that gratulates amain
Or deprecates offended Law;
To bind, and break, when failing eye
And palsied paw must say good-bye.

Ah, had the dog's appointed day
But tallied with his master's span,
Nor one swift decade turned to gray
The busy muzzle's black and tan,
To reprobate in idle men
Their threescore empty years and ten!

Sure, somewhere o'er the Stygian strait
"Panurge" and "Bito," "Tramp" and "Mike,"
In couchant conclave watch the gate,
Till comes the last successive tyke,
Acknowledged with the countersign:
"Your master was a friend of mine."

In dreams I see them spring to greet,
With rapture more than tail can tell,
Their master of the silent feet
Who whistles o'er the asphodel,
And through the dim Elysian bounds
Leads all his cry of little hounds.

John Halsham [18 -


Four years! - and didst thou stay above
The ground, which hides thee now, but four?
And all that life, and all that love,
Were crowded, Geist! into no more?

Only four years those winning ways,
Which make me for thy presence yearn,
Called us to pet thee or to praise,
Dear little friend! at every turn?

That loving heart, that patient soul,
Had they indeed no longer span,
To run their course, and reach their goal
And read their homily to man?

That liquid, melancholy eye,
From whose pathetic, soul-fed springs
Seemed surging the Virgilian cry,
The sense of tears in mortal things -

That steadfast, mournful strain, consoled
By spirits gloriously gay,
And temper of heroic mould -
What, was four years their whole short day?

Yes, only four! - and not the course
Of all the centuries yet to come,
And not the infinite resource
Of Nature, with her countless sum

Of figures, with her fulness vast
Of new creation evermore,
Can ever quite repeat the past,
Or just thy little self restore.

Stern law of every mortal lot!
Which man, proud man, finds hard to bear,
And builds himself I know not what
Of second life I know not where.

But thou, when struck thine hour to go,
On us, who stood despondent by,
A meek last glance of love didst throw,
And humbly lay thee down to die.

Yet would we keep thee in our heart -
Would fix our favorite on the scene,
Nor let thee utterly depart
And be as if thou ne'er hadst been.

And so there rise these lines of verse
On lips that rarely form them now;
While to each other we rehearse:
Such ways, such arts, such looks hadst thou!

We stroke thy broad brown paws again,
We bid thee to thy vacant chair,
We greet thee by the window-pane,
We hear thy scuffle on the stair;

We see the flaps of thy large ears
Quick raised to ask which way we go;
Crossing the frozen lake, appears
Thy small black figure on the snow!

Nor to us only art thou dear,
Who mourn thee in thine English home;
Thou hast thine absent master's tear,
Dropped by the far Australian foam.

Thy memory lasts both here and there,
And thou shalt live as long as we.
And after that - thou dost not care!
In us was all the world to thee.

Yet, fondly zealous for thy fame,
Even to a date beyond our own,
We strive to carry down thy name
By mounded turf and graven stone.

We lay thee, close within our reach,
Here, where the grass is smooth and warm,
Between the holly and the beech,
Where oft we watched thy couchant form,

Asleep, yet lending half an ear
To travelers on the Portsmouth road; -
There choose we thee, O guardian dear,
Marked with a stone, thy last abode!

Then some, who through this garden pass,
When we too, like thyself, are clay,
Shall see thy grave upon the grass,
And stop before the stone, and say:

People who lived here long ago
Did by this stone, it seems, intend
To name for future times to know
The dachs-hound, Geist, their little friend.

Matthew Arnold [1822-1888]


I know, where Hampshire fronts the Wight,
A little church, where "after strife"
Reposes Guy de Blanquely, Knight,
By Alison his wife:
I know their features' graven lines
In time-stained marble monotone,
While crouched before their feet reclines
Their little dog of stone!

I look where Blanquely Castle still
Frowns o'er the oak wood's summer state,
(The maker of a patent pill
Has purchased it of late),
And then through Fancy's open door
I backward turn to days of old,
And see Sir Guy - a bachelor
Who owns a dog called "Hold"!

I see him take the tourney's chance,
And urge his coal-black charger on
To an arbitrament by lance
For lovely Alison;
I mark the onset, see him hurl
From broidered saddle to the dirt
His rival, that ignoble Earl -
Black-hearted Massingbert!

Then Alison, with down-dropped eyes,
Where happy tears bedim the blue,
Bestows a valuable prize
And adds her hand thereto;
My lord, his surcoat streaked with sand,
Remounts, low muttering curses hot,
And with a base-born, hireling band
He plans a dastard plot!


'Tis night - Sir Guy has sunk to sleep,
The castle keep is hushed and still -
See, up the spiral stairway creep,
To work his wicked will,
Lord Massingbert of odious fame,
Soft followed by his cut-throat staff;
Ah, "Hold" has justified his name
And pinned his lordship's calf!

A growl, an oath, then torches flare;
Out rings a sentry's startled shout;
The guard are racing for the stair,
Half-dressed, Sir Guy runs out;
On high his glittering blade he waves,
He gives foul Massingbert the point,
He carves the hired assassin knaves
Joint from plebeian joint!


The Knight is dead - his sword is rust,
But in his day I'm certain "Hold"
Wore, as his master's badge of trust,
A collarette of gold:
And still I like to fancy that,
Somewhere beyond the Styx's bound,
Sir Guy's tall phantom stoops to pat
His little phantom hound!

Patrick R. Chalmers [18-



In good King Charles's golden days,
When loyalty no harm meant,
A zealous high-churchman was I,
And so I got preferment.
To teach my flock I never missed:
Kings were by God appointed,
And lost are those that dare resist
Or touch the Lord's anointed.
And this is law that I'll maintain
Until my dying day, sir,
That whatsoever king shall reign,
Still I'll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.

When royal James possessed the crown,
And popery grew in fashion,
The penal laws I hooted down,
And read the Declaration;
The Church of Rome I found would fit
Full well my constitution;
And I had been a Jesuit
But for the Revolution.

When William was our king declared,
To ease the nation's grievance,
With this new wind about I steered,
And swore to him allegiance;
Old principles I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance;
Passive obedience was a joke,
A jest was non-resistance.

When royal Anne became our queen,
The Church of England's glory,
Another face of things was seen,
And I became a Tory;
Occasional conformists base,
I blamed their moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was,
By such prevarication.

When George in pudding-time came o'er,
And moderate men looked big, sir,
My principles I changed once more,
And so became a Whig, sir;
And thus preferment I procured
From our new Faith's defender,
And almost every day abjured
The Pope and the Pretender.

The illustrious house of Hanover,
And Protestant succession,
To these I do allegiance swear -
While they can keep possession:
For in my faith and loyalty
I nevermore will falter,
And George my lawful king shall be -
Until the times do alter.
And this is law that I'll maintain
Until my dying day, sir,
That whatsoever king shall reign,
Still I'll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.


[William Wordsworth]

Just for a handful of silver he left us,
Just for a ribbon to stick in his coat -
Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
Lost all the others she lets us devote;
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
So much was theirs who so little allowed:
How all our copper had gone for his service!
Rags - were they purple, his heart had been proud -
We that had loved him so, followed him, honored him,

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