Champion Bissell.

The panic, as seen from Parnassus: and other poems online

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Of life the glory and the bloom :
At once, of these and you, forsaken.

Could aught dispel or gild the gloom ?

Remember now, that I reproved you
In not a word. With gesture sad,

I said : Sophia, I have loved you.
And I have given you all I had.

Whatever be the cause that led you,
Thus, reckless, with my heart to play,

I will not ask it. Then I fled you.
Nor know I where I went that day.

Oblivion hides it. Let the cloud
Still linger : let such cloud obscure

All deadly sorrows, that the proud.
When hidden, only can endure.



180 SOPHIA.

Remember, now, that I reproved you ; r
In not a word. From manhood's power

Is woman safe : else had I loved you
Tenfold, your life that very hour

Were forfeit. What, shall you receive
The garnered tribute of my heArt,

And waste it? But your sex has leave
To safely play a treacherous part !

I thought you kindly as your name,
That, softly flowing, charms the air : —

Let him love you who loves the flame

That leaves the meadow scorched and bare !

I did not die. An idle tale

Is this — that blasted love is death.

Why should my ruddy currents fail.
Because my heart lies numb beneath ?

Who dies ? Some sickly soul lies here,
Who, while he lived, was scarce alive ;

At Love's rebuff he died of fear ;
But they who merit life survive.



SOPHIA. 181

And not witljin your hands is placed
The bolt of death. Creator wise,

Oft is thy creature, man, disgraced,
But not from wounded love he dies.

Whatever birthright we have shared.

Or 3delded wholly to the Sex,
Still, from this crowning folly spared.

Our life survives of life the wrecks.



Go, Woman, you have had your day ;

I, whom you injured — I forgive:
The worst for you that I can say,

Is this : Sophia, go, and live.

The hopes of manhood call me on —
Friends, reputation, wealth, and fame ;

And rises bright o'er all, the dawn
Of Love that now deserves the name.



182 SOPHIA.

Nor less I love, because you taught
Me how to feel a woman's art :

Not yours is every woman's thought,
Nor false is every woman's heart.

What have you gained ? A victory here —
A victory there. The fruit is light :

Of what avail to you the tear
I haply shed one bitter night ?

Will others love you yet ? Behold,
Aslant your temples — fatal sign —

The crowfoot ! You are growing old ;
And here the Sex is not like wine.

Oh ! let the ripening matron dwell
In reverence. You are not as she.

The years that blast the thorn, how well
They deck the bounteous apple-tree !

Live on, the wonder of the maid
Who presses manly arm at eve ;

Ah ! gentle sunbeam of my shade,

Some souls there be that can't deceive.



SOPHIA. 183



Live on : from me no further word ;

Live on, and vainly hope repose ;
Ever with her who thus has erred,

There troops a sullen host of woes.



184 A FINANCIAL EXPEBIENCB.



A FIi\ANCIAL EXPERIENCE.



In the city of Hartford — the people of which
Are, with scarce an exception, enormously rich ;
Possessed of whole counties and States at the

West,
And still having cash that they wish to invest ;
And they know how to do it, if any can know,
As their notes, stocks, and bonds will abundantly

show —
There lives a warm fellow who makes it his trade
To discount good paper as fast as 'tis made.

In fact, he invites it, and hangs out a sign.
Enticing and eloquent — only one line ;
I think it good English — quite free from impurities :
*' Money always to lend, on the best of securities."
It gives one great trust in this kindest of men,
To note how precaution presides o'er his gain ;
I'd leave him my funds as I pass through the town.
Were they not drawn so closely, alaimingly, down.



A FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE. 185

This kindest of creatures, with other good qualities,
Possessed, as is natural, certain partialities.
In dates not particular — shorter or longer —
Where paper is lengthy, the profit is stronger.
But this his chief preference — I own to the same :
He always desired a "favorite name ;"
He meant it financially — the name that I hank-
Er for lodges with Cupid, and not at the Bank !

My friend, if you covet wealth, comfort, or fame.
Oh ! haste to acquire a favorite name ;
For what would become of our snug little dinners,
The pleasures and dainties that cheer us poor

sinners.
The luxuries of life that pertain to our station,
Should our banker refuse us all accommodation ?
A good name is better than riches, you'll find.
While it lasts, Master Plutus, if paid well, is kind.

One name in especial, he vastly admired,

A dresser of leather — but long since retired ;

Punctilious and honest, a trifle too free

With his friendly indorsement ; and here, as you see,



186 A FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE.

Was the source of his profit — not being legitimate
Paper of business, the bank was quite shy of it.
So knowing his safety and wealth of estates,
Our friend always took it, and made his own rates.

But T. Wray, the leather man, being a wag,
And not quite half-liking his paper should drag,
And his neighbors be forced to submit to a shave,
Most fiendishly, wickedly, thus did behave :
He went to a neighbor and thus did he say :
" Make the following note to my order — T. Wray.
And start not in horror, though fearful the style
Of the paper in question — 'twill yet make you
smile."

Ne hide am seriis, says Wisdom ; despite her.
The fault is T. Wray's, not the fault of the writer :
This, then, was the document — brief, but how dis-
mal !
Revealing a perfidy truly abysmal :
Sixty days after death I jiromise to ])ay
To the order of Mr. Thcophilus Wray,
For value received of him, five hundred dollars,
At my office on Blaiik street — Simeon Collers.



A FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE. 187

An ominous promise for mortal to make,

Who knows not what course his hereafter will take :

But this is but prosing. The note was completed,

And straight to our friend, Mr. S. Collers fleeted :

Began with some talk in a general way —

The state of the weather, the news of the day ;

Diverged to finance by an easy transition.

And lugged out the note in a cruinpled condition.

Who ever would think to look Death in the face
On the face of a note ? 'Tis a singular place !
No wonder the banker, not dreaming the state
Of the matter, imagined the "death" to be "date."
The "d," "a," and "t" were so large in the joints.
The "e" and the "h" shrunk to minimum points :
Percentage was settled — I have heard of a lower.
And the customer bowed in due form to the door.

The note in collection then quietly rested,

And in due course of time was most promptly

— protested ;
The Notary adding his honest conviction.
The matter was quite beyond law's jurisdiction.



188 A FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE.

** The note is not due," thus he said in the margin,
" The evidence ample, and needs no enlarging ;
I protest for mere form, and yourself, sir, to please,
And I fear that your case is quite weak in the

knees,
And I'll thank you to send by the bearer, the fees."

The lawyers were puzzled, till one who had

dream't o'er
The case rather longer, said : ^^ Caveat emptor —
It is clear that no fraud has been done or intended ;
If sued, Mr. Wray can with ease be defended.
In fine," quoth the sapient man of the law,
" The do is as perfect as ever I saw ;
Search out, first the drawer, and then the drawee,
Make the best terms you can — and, beg pardon, the

fee."

But scarce had our friend reached his office next

day,
Quite sick of expenses, when entered T. Wray ;
The note, less the discount and charges, to pay,
Provided the Banker thereafter would claim,
Only legalized rates on his favorite name.



A FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE. 189

And thus the indorser, Theophilus, spoke :
We teach you a lesson by means of a joke ;
To take, whether greater or lesser distress it is,
No unfair advantage of people's necessities.

What followed ? A dinner of course — and the rest,
Champagne and Good Fellowship — ^both of the

best :
But here is the circumstance worthy of note —
The Banker, though never before had he wrote
Any verses for albums, or papers, or fairs.
And rather avoided such pitfalls and snares,
After some little hemming and mild hesitation.
Propounded this moral with great acceptation :



MORAL..

ADDRESSED TO THE UNFOETUNATE BANKING CLASSES.



Avoid all bills, both small and great.
That run beyond the present state.

For fear a mortuary date
May give you much too long to wait.



190 A FINANCIAL EXPERIENCE.

For if you gain the upper air,
You may not find your debtor there ;
Or if you haply chance* to go
Where fancy rates are charged for snow,
You'll find collections hard and slow !



CROSS PURPOSES.

On the Hudson steamer, to the coke-
Feeder, thus a thirsty traveler spoke :
" Where's the bar? " To which in answer, he
" Just nine miles this side of Albany!"



ROSALIA. 191



ROSALIA.



Rosalia, often you complain,

Your husband's love begins to wane.

In naught does he neglectful prove,

Affection lives in every act ;

But vrhere is now the throbbing love

Of which his being once was all compact ?

When -dawned the nuptial hour.

Trembling, you feared his love. Imperial power

It seemed ; a gorgeous monarch, waited on by

bands
Of flying, eager, quick desires,
Innumerous as ocean's sands.
And ardent as the roaring woodland fires.
His love informed your own, thrilled through

your veins.
Shook your awed soul with joys as fierce as pains,
Made life too sweet to bear,
-And filled with dazzling light the sphere
Where you reigned royally when he was near.



192 ROSALIA.

When dawned the nuptial hour,

Indeed, Rosalia, love's imperial power

Shone from his eyes. But, tell me where was

then
The love that fitly answered his again ?
Unborn as yet ; for you were satisfied
Simply to be his bride.
This, to your gentle timid soul.
Seemed to be of love the whole.
You were content to be his treasure,
His source of joy, his fount of pleasure ;
Him you sought not, but if desired.
How blest were you to be admired ;
How blest were you to be to him a joy.
Which you dreamed not before you could impart ;
And happy you, thus always to employ
The passive kindness of your virgin heart.

You married. Then your love awoke.
Unheard, unknown, till then, your being spoke
To you in accents thrilling, strange, and new,
And love's bright arrows pierced you through.



ROSALIA. 193

No sacrifice too great for you to make

For his dear sake,

Whose name you bore ; with him most willingly

You would have crossed the land and sea.

Why had your eyes so long been closed

To those perfections where you now reposed

Your tiTist, your life, yourself? Wliat fortune

rare
Had made you mistress there ?

Among all maidens, why were you his choice,
Whose smiles had made a Queen rejoice ?
Each day, each month, saw love's increase ;
You dressed, you sang, you danced, your lord to

please.
And only him ; the world beside
Unheeded passed. Your only pride
Was He : and if He praised, your soul was satisfied.

But did he love you more
Than he had loved before ?
Ah ! no. The goldfinch in the air
More sweetly sings

Than when, of human tenderness the care,
Within the cage it folds its wings.
9



194 ROSALIA.

When the forest warbler

In your bosom lies,

Dulled are the bright colors

That once so charmed your eyes.

He loved you none the more,

Because a greater love for him you bore,

But rather loved you less,

Because his own unworthiness,

Known so well to him,

Escaped your penetration dim.

Unsagacious, undiscerning, fondly blind,

Love that loses least respect shall bitter ending

find.
Man that reasons, loses reason.
Only in his own desire ;
She who would keep his love in season.
Must fear to love with equal fire.

Unwelcome truth — as old as human life :

The maid — the bride — is dearer than the wife.

I know that poets say.

Not so : but what says every day ?

Poets ! gild the truth, but don't deny

The iron facts that 'neath the gilding lie.



ROSALIA. 195

Let life assert itself, within your song,

Wholly and truly, else the world you wi'ong,

— Kosalia, never more

Shall you behold the love that once he bore.

But blame him not : did he blame you.

Or doubt if you were true.

Because your love for him seemed cold.

When one light word from you were worth a world

of gold?
When he tossed throughout the weary night ;
Lost his courage, trembled with affright,
If you but careless seemed ; then did you share
Such wild love and wild despair ?
No ; you calmly slept and woke,
Smiled upon him when he spoke.
Walked with him beneath the moon.
Playful, said, ''What, home so soon!"
Breathed a kind prayer, and peaceful, slept,
While he on restless couch a weary vigil kept

In love, as life, if wants are few
How easy 'tis to fill them ;
Vain and idle wants subdue,
Or, what is better, kill them.



196 ROSALIA.

Follow Nature, if you would

Be happy, wise, and free :

Nature would not, if she could.

Except her laws for thee.

Would you win your husband's love ?

Ever keep thyself above

Love's level ; let him not possess

Wholly thyself; a little less

Will make him long for all.

Call him upward where you are :

When he reach that station fair,

Higher, farther, call.

Oft be to him a maiden strange.

After whom his thoughts shall range ;

Lead him through the flowery path,

Where Imagination r.ath

Her choicest rove, and let his fancy find

In you the sum of every good combined.

Beware satiety ; the sweetest, thence.

Too much, too often tasted, blunt the sense.

Often change your mood ; but pride

Keep thee ever dignified.

And maiden-modest. Petulance,

Anger, jealousy, pretense,



ROSALIA, 197

Keep these distant from your thought :
Much contempt these evil birds have wrought,
But never love ; and such defect
Must surely drive away respect.

Let me not transgress the bound

Where home and husband fence thee round ;

But trust me — me who would restore

The love whose loss you now deplore.

Win it — keep it, while you may ;

All too soon 'tv^ill fade away :

Who shall Nature disobey ?

Soon your winsome beauty fades,

Lo, a troop of laughing children now your

hearth invades !
Fresh and joyous, think you, as they play.
Each has helped to steal my youth away ?
Man, grown older, in his children lives ;
They are of his blood :
For them, his toil he cheerful gives.
And makes them heirs of all his good.
In them he sees perpetuate
His name, his fame, his rising state



198 ROSALIA.

Of greatness, wealth — whatever he

Most desires confirmed should be.

They, and they only, without pain,

Kecall his days of youth again ;

In them he sees his early bloom.

When life had never heard of gloom ;

In his friends around, he spies

Crow's-feet springing from the eyes.

Failing senses, waning power.

No promise in the coming hour ;

The rose has faded from the cheek

That once so redly blushed, if he but chanced

to speak ;
The ardent gust of life has fled.
Its joyous hopes are crushed — are dead ;
But lo ! he sees around him stand
A rising, happy, mirthful band,
Who make him young again. For thee —
Best, if thou join their company;
Rosalia, 'tis the stratagem
Will give thee power over him.
Let not the thought of age intrude,
As you look round upon your brood.



ROSALIA. 199

Be young with them by happy art,
And gain the vantage of his heart ;
Though the daughters please him well,
What ! shall you lose, without a sigh,
The old, accustomed spell.
That once you won and kept him by ?
Fear not the unequal race.
Let not care invade your face.
Let your smiles be morns of May ;
Then, as of old, will he obey :
Or, at the worst, you can but share
The empire with your daughters fair.

But dream not ever to displace,

Kosalia, maiden, bride, or wife,

The sad sub-bass

That underrunneth every woman's life ;

See the honors that await

Man's advancing state.

But, long since, flattery

Ceased to fall upon your ear.

Nor, as in days gone by.

Do you but need to speak for all to hear ;



200 ROSALIA.

No matter how disguised,

At last, on you surprised,

Will fall the world's command ; with grace

Content thyself to fill the second place ;

In thy husband's name

Be content to find thy fame,

And let thy sons and daughters be

Crowns of honor unto thee.

The day has passed, of her who once was fair,

Her husband's, children's, triumphs now to

share.
Becomes her state : nor more ambition gives
To her who after Youth and Beauty lives.



HELEN. 201



HELEX,



The brimming tides of Delaware

Beyond the meadows gleam ;
I see the ships they proudly bear :

I hear the flowing stream.
The panting ox before the plough -

Enjoys the shade, nor dreams of me ;
His master's sturdy shoulders bow

Beneath the apple tree,
In which I sit, in swapng nest,

And taste the airs of balmy June,
And wait the hour that makes me blest —

My heart with summer hours in tune.



202 HELEN.



II.



Last night, while blew the Southern wind,

I lay beneath the trees,
And gazing at her window-blind,

I sang such songs as these :
Awake, my Queen, for now the night

Has hushed a world that doubts of Love,
And Love the Conqueror sheds his light —

The conquered world above.
Yet sleep, my Queen, for happy dreams

Descend to thee from every star.
And dearer now your lover seems,

Than any waking thought could dare."



III.

Spur on thy coursers, flaming Sun,
And haste the trysting hour.

For though my life has just begun.
The bud is quick to flower.



HELEN. 203

Though sweet the cool of early morn,

The shining river's seaward flow,
The songs of birds from heaven borne,

The hum of earth below ;
Yet runs my heart beyond them all.

To fairer nook of garden shade,
Through which I soon shall walk, and call

The flying, yet expectant maid.



204 SONNET



SONNEl



You talk of Sentiment : but I renounce it ;
The lips are echoes of the mocking heart,
And that false subtlety that takes its start
From out the soul's dark chambers — they pro-
nounce it.
Oh ! our two natures — they are rank deceivers ;
The inward Counsellor, the outward Act —
The gilded Sentiment, the iron Fact —
Befooling all but practised unbelievers.
True wisdom this : Doubt the fair words of men ;
Hear promises, advice, with cautious ears ;
Being deceived, be not deceived again ;
And watch the deep monitions of your fears.
So shall Success, that well-fed imp, abide
Through an obsequious world, attendant at your
side.



SWIFT RUSHING RIVER OF LIFE. 205



Swift rushing River of Life, delay, delay —
Thy endless course one happy moment stay ;
Here, on this fragrant bank of summer flowers.
Fain would we linger out the day's sweet hours —
Ah ! day too sweet — too brief — so swift the sun.
Half-ended seem our joys, when scarce begun !

Still flows the tide — still drifts our helpless bark —
Still round the world for ever creeps the dark ;
Still sinks the sun before it : Life and Light
Yield, and must ever yield, to Death and Night.
Each hour but robs us — longer as we live.
Each robs us more, because we've less to give.

Unequal contest, where th' event is sure,

And courage profits, only to endure —

Oar fitful strife with Destiny and Time,

— Hopeless indeed, but none the less sublime —

Where every step is backward, and a wall

Of darkness glooms upon the rear of all.



206 WHAT LESSON GRAVES THOSE HOARY ROCKS.



What lesson graves those hoary rocks,
Set deeply on the shores of Time,
Whose fangs far-reaching to the prime,

Sway not by elemental shocks —

Strong songs of deep and lustrous mind ;
Clear annals of the world's long life,
Sharp truths of argumental strife.

True pictures of our human kind ?

Not that in sudden gust of force
Lives the high secret of the spell.
By which we too may build as well

Eternal records of our course :



But that the might that rears a Tower
To be by distant ages spied,
Grows in the arm by labor tried,

And owns no circumstance or hour.



FRAGMENTS FROM HORACE. 207



FRAGMENTS FROM HORACE.



AD LICINIUM.



Beware, Licinins, the open sea ;

But while you, cautious, shun its stormy roar,
Avoid with equal care the treacherous lee

Of rocky shore.

II.
Whoever cultivates the golden mean,

The smirch of poverty shall safely shun.
And mocking riches from his gaze serene.

Shall ever run.

III.
The loftiest pine feels most the northern blast,

The highest towers endure the greatest fall ;
Yon thunderbolt the lesser house has past,

To strike the tall.



208 FRAGMENTS FROM HORACE.

IV.

Oh ! let your soul, prepared for either fate,
Hope in ill-fortune — fear the prosperous hour ;

The self-same gods now kindle, now abate,
The tempest's power.



Be sure, if all is dark with you to-day,

'Twill change to-morrow : songs not always
waft

From great Apollo ; nor shall always slay
His veni?eful shaft.

VI.

Oppose a resolute and cheerful breast

To blasts unprosperous, but be careful too ;

Reef sail, when too propitious from the west
The breezes blow.



FRAGMENTS FROM HORACE. 209

AD FUSCUM.
I.

The man of pure and upright life,
Needs not the Moorish bow or knife,
Or arrows poison-charged ; for he,

Fuscus, dear to me !

Is safe within his own integrity :

II.

Whether o'er desert sands he goes,
Or toils through wild Caucasian snows,
Or under burning Persian suns.
The heat of noonday shuns

In groves, through which the bright Hydaspes
runs.

III.
For while in Sabine woods I strayed.
And sang my Laura, sweetest maid,
Unarmed, except with fragile lyre,

1 met the gray wolfs ire

With fearless gaze, and awed his savage fire.



210 FRAGMENTS FROM HORACE.

IV.

Such omen, never savage clime

Hath known, in this or other time :

Not Daunia's v^oodlands, nor the land

Of Fez, sirocco-fanned,

Dry nurse of lions ; realm of thirsty sand.

V.

Should I be sent where deadly air,
Malarious, blasts the grape and pear ;
Where chilling, endless rain and storm
The drooping skies deform,
And ever shut from sight the sunbeams
warm ;

VI.

Or where, beneath a torrid sky,
To lincjer is to faint and die —
Land to all other men denied ;
Were Laura by my side,
I with the laughing maid could joyously
abide.



HOUER. 211



HOMER



A BAUTY gale from far Ionian shore,

That blows throughout the world for evermore.



Bland Majesty — that tells the mingled tale
Of War and Peace, of Marriage and of Death ;

Of ruddy Conflagration, Famine pale.

With sweet, unvaried, and unfaltering breath.

A fragment, unalloyed, of the Divine,

Who sends the rain to good and bad alike ;

Who on the murderer makes his sun to shine.
Whose fated lightnings oft the righteous strike.

Immortal Singer : thou didst rise above

Smiles for man's joy, and tears for human pain ;

No frailty mars the calm and boundless love
Which thou for all mankind didst entertain.



212 MILTON.



MILTON.



An organ-peal from far-ofl" Miuster walls,
That ou the awe-struck ear at evening falls.



Because you dared to draw aside the veil
That hides the other world from mortal eye,

And tell, till then untold, the awful tale
Of man's first sin, that doomed us all to die,

We hail thee Poet : thou art Preacher too ;

With mighty hand you draw the soul away,
Through Death's dark valley, hid with boding yew.

Far from sweet airs and cheerful light of day.

And yours the Preacher's recompense. We bow
To thee with reverence ; but how few can claim

A friend's acquaintance with thy solemn brow,
Or in their careless moments speak thy name !



SHAKSPEAEE. 213



SHAKSPEARE



SvMPHON'iocs music ; orchestral and rare—
A thousand lutof , and each a separate air.



My Teacher : Teacher thou of all the race —
And mine as well as theirs : I clasp thy hand,

And look without a fear upon thy face,
Contented ever in such light to stand.

What men find not upon thy ample page,
Is worth but little. Would they wiser be ?

You speak, and lo, the sum of all things sage.
Would they be witty, cynic, grave, or fi'ee ? —

In you is found exhaustless store for all ;

Eternal Record of the Maker's power :
Great Hint of what had been but for the Fall,

Of what we may be at a Future Hour.



CYRILLA



216 CYRILLA



CYRILLA



I TELL a simple tale. The wild romance
Of other age and clime, let him declare,
Whoever sweeps with better, bolder hand
The sacred lyre of song.

The young Seborne
Had grown to manly age, a farmer's son,
U]3on the banks of blue Connecticut.
Fed with the fare the simple country gives
To mind and body ; strong, and lithe, and tall.


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