Ernest De Lancey Pierson.

The merry muse; society verse by American writers online

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To well, tried to miss it :
You slipped your hand down by your side

You knew I meant to kiss it !

Aunt Van, I fear we put to shame

Propriety and precision :
But, praised be Love ! that kiss just came

Beyond your line of vision.
Dear maiden aunt ! the kiss, more sweet

Because 'tis surreptitious,
You never stretched a hand to meet,

So dimpled, dear, delicious.

I sought the Park last Saturday ;

I found the drive deserted ;
The water-trough beside the way

Sad and superfluous spurted.


I stood where Humboldt gaards the gate
Bronze, bumptious, stained, and streaky-

There sat a sparrow on his pate,
A sparrow chirp and cheeky.

Ten months ago ! ten months ago !

It seems a happy second,
Against a life-time lone and slow,

By Love's wild time-piece reckoned
You smiled, by Aunt's protecting side,

Where thick the drags were massing,
On one young man who didn't ride,

But stood and watched you passing.

I haunt Purssell's to his amaze

Not that I care to eat there ;
But for the dear clandestine days

When we two had to meet there.
Oh ! blessed is that baker's bake,

Past cavil and past question ;
I ate a bun for your dear sake,

And Memory helped Digestion.

The Norths are at their Newport ranch ;

Van Brunt has gone to Venice ;
Loomis invites me to the Branch,

And lures me with lawn-tennis.
O bustling barracks by the sea !

O spiles, canals, and islands !
Your varied charms are naught to me

My heart is in the Highlands !


My paper trembles in the breeze

That all too faintly flutters
Among the dusty city trees,

And through my half-closed shutters :
A northern captive in the town,

Its native vigor deadened,
I hope that, as it wandered down,

Your dear pale cheek it reddened.

I'll write no more. A vis-a-vis

In halcyon vacation
Will sure afford a much more free

Mode of communication ;
I'm tantalized and cribbed and checked

In making love by letter:
I know a style more brief, direct

And generally better !



\JO, no," she said, and firmly spoke ;

She reasoned with him like a mother,
And showed why he should be content
To let her love him as a brother.

She pictured how the marriage state
Is one of trouble and confusion ;

How love, at best, is but a snare,
And plainly sent for man's delusion.

He bowed his head before her flow
Of eloquence, nor strove to turn it,

l>ut meekly hinted that he would
The lesson take, and try to learn it.

" Farewell, I go beyond the sea

Since I'm refused, no more I'll press you ;
Kind Time," he sighed, " may heal my pain.

Forgive, forget me, and God bless you ! "


She faltered, paled, then tossed her head :
1 ' I see it will not greatly grieve you ;

You can't have loved me much," she said :
" And yet, indeed, I did believe you ! "

" Besides," with this her fair cheek gained
The color his was slowly losing ;

" I only said ' no ' once or twice,
And women don't call that refusing ! "



u TV/JY love," he said, and parted back her hair
That tossed in golden mists above her eyes ;

" Ask me no more, but hear me while I swear

You, you alone I love. Will that suffice ?

" I have had fancies yes, like other men
Youth's blood is swift, and youth's warm dreaming

My heart at last is fixed. Ah ! spare me then
These questions as to other, earlier loves !

" 'Tis not for you, whose innocent young heart

Still hears the music of your childhood's chimes,
To understand -" She stopped him with a start,
" Don't go so fast, I've been engaged four times ! "



U VTEVER," he vowed it, "while life may last,

Can I love again. I will die unwed."
" And I, too., dear, since our dream is past,
I will live single," she sobbing said.

A storm of farewells of wild good-byes
He rushed from the spot, like an outcast soul.

She hid in a pillow her streaming eyes,
And wept with anguish beyond control.

Just five years afterward, they two met
At a vender's stand, in a noisy street ;

He saw the smile he could ne'er forget,

And she the eyes that were more than sweet.

( "How well you look.'
" Oh, Kate ! " "Oh, Harry ! "

( ' ' How well you look ' '

" I stopped," he said, "just to get a toy
For my little girl." " I wanted a book,"
She softly said, " for my little boy."



T MAY not kiss you, sweetest ? why,

Since all the world to love is moulded ?
Look how the happy butterfly
Kisses the rose and isn't scolded !

See how the stream with tender lips
Its green and mossy margin presses,

And even the stately willow dips
Her beauty to the tide's caresses.

I may c>ot kiss you ? 'Tis absurd
To scorn the truth all nature traces !

The very breeze, upon my word,

Stands still, and kisses both our faces.

" Ouite right," she said, " for breezes, John,
For butterflies and streamlets, dearest ;

I notice, though, they soon pass on

To kiss the next thing that comes nearest ! '




\ A J HEN State street homes were stately still,
When out of town was Murray Hill,

Tn late deceased ''old times"
Of vast, embowering bonnet shapes
And creamy-crinkled Canton crapes

And florid annual rhymes,

He owned a small suburban seat
Where now you see a modern street,

A monochrome of brown :
The sacl " brown brown " of Dante's dreams,
A twilight turned to stone that seems

To weight our city down.

Through leafy chestnuts whitely showed
The pillared front of his abode :

A garden girt it 'round,
Where pungent box did trim enclose
The marigold and cabbage rose,

And " pi'ny " heavy crowned.

Yea, whatso sweets the changing year's,
He most affected. Gone ! but here's


His face who loved him so.
Old cheeks like sherry, warm and mild;
A clear-hued cheek as cheek of child ;

Sleek head a sphere of snow.

His mouth was pious, and his nose
Patrician ; with which mould there goes

A disaffected vie.v
In those sublime, be-oratored,
Spread-eagle days ; his soul deplored

So much red-white-and-blue !

In umber ink, with S's long,

He left behind him censure strong

In stiffest phrases clothed !
But time a pleasant jest enough !
Has turned the tory leaves to buff,

The liberal hue he loathed.

Of many a gentle deed he made
Brief, simple record. Never fade

Those everlasting flowers
That spring up wild by good men's walks ;
Opinions wither on their stalks,

And sere grow Fashion's bowers.

Erect, befrilled, in neckcloth tall,
His semblance sits, removed from all

Our needs and noises new ;
Released from all the rent we pay
As tenants of the large To-day,

Cool, in a back-ground blue.


And he beneath a cherub chipped

Plump, squamous-pinioned, pouting-lipped,

Sleeps calm where Trinity
Points fingers dark to clouds that fleet;
A warning, seen from surging street,

A welcome seen from sea.

There fall, ghosts glorified of tears
Shed for the dead in buried years,

The silver notes of chimes;
And there, with not unreverent hand
Though light, I lay this "greene garland,"

This woven wreath of rhymes.



' I CHOUGH I met her in the summer, when one's heart

lies round at ease,
As it were in tennis costume, and a man's not hard to


Yet I think that any season to have met her was to love,
While her tones, unspoiled, unstudied, had the softness

of the dove.

At request she read us poems in a nook among the pines,
And her artless voice lent music to the least melodious

lines ;
Though she lowered her shadowing lashes, in an earnest

reader's wise,
Yet we caught blue gracious glimpses of the heavens

which were her eyes.

As in paradise I listened ah, I did not understand
That a little cloud, no larger than the average human


Might, as stated oft in fiction, spread into a sable pall,
When she said that she should study Elocution in the




i admit her earliest efforts were not in the Ercles vein ;
She began with, " Lit-tle Maaybel, with her faayce against

the payne
And the beacon-light a-t-r-r-remble" which, although it

made me wince,
Is a thing of cheerful nature to the things she's rendered

Having heard the Soulful Quiver, she acquired the Melt-
ing Mo-o-an,

And the way she gave '* Young Grayhead" would have
liquefied a stone.

Then the Sanguinary Tragic did her energies employ,

And she tore my taste to tatters when she slew " The
Polish Boy."

It's not pleasant for a fellow when the jewel of his soul
Wades through slaughter on the carpet, while her orbs

in frenzy roll ;
What was I that I should murmur ? Yet it gave me

grievous pain
That she rose in social gatherings, and Searched among

the Slain.

I was forced to look upon her in my desperation dumb,
Knowing well that when her awful opportunity was come
She would give us battle, murder, sudden death at very

As a skeleton of warning, and a blight upon the feast.


Once, ah ! once I fell a-clreaming ; some one played a


I associated strongly with those happier August days ;
And I mused, "I'll speak this evening," recent pangs

forgotten quite
Sudden shrilled a scream of anguish : " Cur'fow SHALL

not ring to-night ! "

Ah, that sound was as a curfew, quenching rosy, warm

Were it safe to wed a woman one so oft would wish in

France ?
Oh, as she "cul-limbed" that ladder, swift my mounting

hope came down,
I am still a single cynic ; she is still Cassandra Brown !




1 1 E gave me a rose at the ball to-night,
And I I'm a fool, I suppose,
For my heart beat high with a vague delight.
Had she given me more than the rose?

I thought that she had for a little while

Till I saw her, fairest of dancers,
Give another rose with the same sweet smile

To another man in the Lancers.

Well, roses are plenty, and smiles not rare

It is really rather audacious
To grumble because my lady fair

Is to other men kind and gracious.

Yet who can govern his wayward dreams ?

And my dream so precious and bright
Now foolish, broken, and worthless seems

As it fades with her rose to-night !

I gave him a rose at the ball to-night,

A deep-red rose, with a fragrance dim,
And the warm blood rushed to my cheeks with fright

I could not, dared not, look at him.


For the depths of my soul he seemed to scan ;

His earnest look I could not bear :
So I gave a rose to another man

Any one else I did not care.

And yet, spite of all, he has read, I know,
My message he could not have missed it ;

For his rose I held to my bosom, so,
And then to my lips while I kissed it.



I HAVE read your glorious letters,
Where you threw aside all fetters,
Spoke your thoughts and mind out freely,

In your own delightful style ;
And I fear my state's alarming,
For these pages are so charming
That my heart I lay before you,

Take it, Jeannie Welsh Carlyle.

And I sit here, thinking, thinking
How your life was one long winking
At poor Thomas' faults and failings
And his undue share of bile.
Won't you own, dear, just between us,
That this living with a genius
Isn't after all so pleasant,

Is it, Jeannie Welsh Carlyle?

There was nothing so demeaning ,

In those frequent times of cleaning,

When you scoured and scrubbed and hammered
In such true housewifely style,



And those charming teas and dinners,
Graced by clever saints and sin-ners,
Make me long to have been present

With you, Jeannie Welsh Carlyle.

How you fought with dogs and chickens,
Playing children, and the dickens

Knows what else ; you stilled all racket

That might Thomas' sleep beguile.
How you wrestled with the taxes,
How you ground T. Carlyle's axes,
Making him the more dependent

On you, Jeannie Welsh Carlyle.

Through it all from every quarter
Gleams, like sunshine on the water,
Your quick sense of fun and humor

And your bright, bewitching smile :
And I own I fairly revel
In the way that you say " devil,"
'Tis so terse, so very vigorous,

So like Jeannie Welsh Carlyle.

All the time, say, were you missing
Just a little love and kissing
Silly things that help to lighten

Many a weary, dreary while ?
Not a word you say to show it,
We may guess, but never know it,
You went quietly on without it,

Loyal Jeannie Welsh Carlyle.



"f~\ NE-LEGGED stork, thou standest sad an-d lonely,
^^ A tear, methinks, I notice in thine eye.
Oh, tell to me yes, whisper to me only
What is the sorrow that I think I spy ? "

And lo ! from out the meshes of the tidy

There came a feeble, mournful sort of squeak.

And, while amazed I opened my eyes wide, he
Opened his mouth, and thus began to speak :

" I am so very tired of being artistic ;

My life is one long, patient, painful ache ;
I am so wearied of these weird and mystic
Positions which they force my form to take.

"In crewels, silks, in worsted and in cotton,

Now black, now white, now grave, now madly gay,
They've Worked me ; and one wrong is unforgotten
They've done me most and worst in applique.

" Sometimes they plant me 'mid some rushes speary

In attitudes no well-bred stork would take,
Holding one leg up, till I get so weary

I sometimes think my poor strained back will break.


" They've worked me standing, running, sleeping, flying

Sometimes I'm gazing at a crewel sun.
They've worked me every way, I think, but dying ;
And oh ! I wish they'd do that and be done !

" I could forgive them all this bitter wronging

If they would grant one favor, which I beg,
Would gratify but once my soul's deep longing,
Just to put down my cramped and unused leg.

" Know you of any one with sorrows greater ?
A creature with a life that's more forlorn ?
Hounded forever by the Decorator,

I wish, I wish, I never had been born ! "

A silence fell ; I gazed ; he had subsided.

I listened vainly ; all was dumb and still
Upon the tidy where the stork resided,

With upheld leg and red and open bill.



T)ALMS in shadow a drooping head,

Crowned by a Folly's cap of fed ;
Violet eyes, 'twixt white lids pressed,
Fingers fashioned to be caressed,
A throat that gleams, in the shadows white,
Lips that tremble and half invite
And I love her tenderly madly ! Yet
She loves not me but to coquette !
And she'd probably tremble and droop and pose
For any other fellows she knows !

The shadow of palms the lamps turned low,

A strain of music a fountain's flow ;

Tender eyes of darkest brown,

Before whose passion my eyes look down,

Fingers closing over my own,

With a touch that straight to my heart has flown ;

And 1 love him love him dearly ! Yet

He's the most outrageous flirt in our set !

And he looks as tenderly I suppose,

In the eyes of every girl he knows !




""ITON window frames her like a saint

Within some old cathedral rare ;
Perhaps she is not quite so quaint,
And yet I think her full as fair !

All day she scans the written lines,

Until the last dull proof is ended,
Calling the various words arid signs,

By which each error may bo mended.

An interceding angel, she,

'Twixt printing press and author's pen ;
Perhaps she'd find some faults in me !

Say, maiden, can you not read men ?

Forgive me, gentle girl, but while

You bravely work, I've been reflecting

That somewhere in this world of guile

There's some one's life needs your correcting.

Methinks 'tis time you tried this art,

Which makes the world's wide page read better
For love needs proving, heart with heart,

As well as type with written letter.



A SONG for the hickory tree !
' While the wind is blowing free,

And the golden leaves and silver nuts
Drop down for you and me !

As we pull the nuggets out

From their crypts with merry shout,

The air is filled with perfume distilled
From the spices of the South.

A health for the hickory tree !
Rough-coated, hale and free

For its flesh is white and its heart is bright,
And it laughs with you and me !

ii :

The squirrel says with a wink,
"I'd sing a song, I think,

To the girl who stands with snow-white hands
And eyes that flash and blink.



"Whose flesh is white and strong,
Whose heart is free from wrong,

And sound and sweet as the nut at her feet,
And better than any song."

So, take the song, my queen,
For a kiss and a philopene !

'Mid the golden leaves and silver nuts,
I kneel on the carpet green.



A T Chamouny I woke one morn,
** Hearing afar an Alpine horn

Upon some glacier to the north,
And thought, although it rained forlorn,
To saunter forth.

There, in the hall, outside a door,
Waiting their owners, on the floor

I saw two shiny pairs of shoes,
One pair was eights or, may be, more ;

The other, twos.

I wondered who those gaiters wore
That such a look of courage bore :

They seemed alert and battle-scarred,
And all their heels were wounded sore

On mountain shard.

The lofty insteps spurned the ground
As if up high Olympus bound ;

The tireless soles were worn away ;
The smooth and taper toes were round

And retrousse.


Sudden my envious thought essayed
To count the conquest they had made,

And all their pilgrimages view ;
O'er glen and glacier, gorge and glade,

My fancy flew.

I saw them thread the Brunig Pass ;
I saw them scale the Mer de Glace,

And Riffleberg, beyond Zermatt ;
I saw them mount the mighty mass

Of Corner Grat.

I saw them climb Bernina's height;
I saw them bathe in Rosa's light

And linger by the Giessbach Fall;
I saw them grope in Gondo's night

And Miinster Thai ;

I saw them find the Jungfrau's head
And leap the Grimsel gorges dread,

And bound o'er Col de Collon's ice;
And on Belle Tola's summit tread

The edelweiss.

The vision shamed my listless mood,
Banished my inert lassitude,

And fired me with intent sublime;
I vowed when sunshine came I would

Go forth and climb.


With new ambition I arose,

Blessed the foot-gear from heels to toes

(One pair was eights ; the other, twos),
And thanked the owners brave of those

Heroic shoes.


R. T. W. DUKE, JR.

ECAUSE I choose to keep my seat,
Nor join the giddy dancers' whirl,
I pray you, do not laugh, my girl,
Nor ask me why I find it sweet

In my old age to watch your glee,
I, too, have been in Arcady.

And though full well I know I seem
Quite out of place in scenes like this,
You can't imagine how much bliss

It gives me just to sit and dream,
As you flit by me gracefully,
How I, too, dwelt in Arcady.

For, sweetheart, in your merry eyes
A vanished summer buds and blows,
And with the same bright cheeks of rose

I see your mother's image rise,
And, o'er a long and weary track,
My buried boyhood wanders back.

And as with tear-dimmed eyes I cast

On your sweet form my swimming glance,
I think your mother used to dance
4 M


Just as you do, in that dead past
Long years ago yes, fifty-three
When I, too, dwelt in Arcady.

And in the music's laughing notes

I seem to hear old voices ring

That have been hushed, ah, many a spring ;
And round about me faintly floats

The echo of a melody

I used to hear in Arcady.

And yonder youth, nay, do not blush,

The boy's his father o'er again ;

And hark ye, miss ! I was not plain
When at his age what ! must I hush ?

He's coming this way ? Yes, I see,

You two yet dwell in Arcady.



TN early spring the song-birds sing,

This is Love's season. Soon shall spread

A carpet green before his feet,
And crocuses and snowdrops bring
A wreath to crown his lovely head.

This is Love's season, sweet, sweet, sweet !

Then, youths and maidens, while ye may,
Your sweethearts choose before the light

That shines on springtime shall retreat.
For, once that light has passed, away,
Life knows again no hours so bright,

So full of gladness, sweet, sweet, sweet.

Now, I. believe the birds are wrong,
That is, not altogether right,

Love may with partial eyes behold
The spring, but yet, the whole year long
He smiles with tenderest delight

On all true lovers, young and old.

And though your early summer's fled,
And though my autumn's almost here,

The lilies, blessed with love divine,
Shall take the place of roses dead.
Will you consent to pluck them, dear,

With me, and be my valentine ?



TU HEN love is in her eyes

What need of spring f or me
A brighter emerald lies
On hill and vale and lea

The azure of the skies

Holds naught so sweet to me ;
When love is in her eyes

What need of spring f or mc ?

Her bloom the rose outvies,

The lily dares no plea,
The violet's glory dies,

No flower so sweet can be ;
When love is in her eyes

What need of spring for mu ?



> "T~ V ELL me, red rose, what you were bid,
You know her secret ; you she wore

Shy, nestling in her hair, half hid
By jealous golden curls a score,
As waves half timid kiss the shore,

Then tremble were they bold or no ;
I kiss you, blushing token, for

She loves me, rose, you tell me so.

I softly raise your scented lid,

Where, sleeping since some dawn of yore,
A crystal dewdrop lies amid

The downy Crimson of your core.

I am not versed in Cupid's lore ;
But so I think her blushing glow

Soft guards the love I sue her for.
She loves me, rose, you tell me so,


And when her hand, in dainty kid,

Gave you to me, as ne'er before
It fluttered, tried itself to rid

Of fetters that it never wore,

Why trembled she ? My eyes would pour
My love in hers, why did she so ?

Was it because she hates me, or
She loves me, rose, you tell me so. *


Rose, come you not ambassador

From Cupid's court, to let me know

Love yields at last ? Speak, I implore !
She loves me, rose, you tell me so.



" CT\EAR MR. BROWN," I know she meant
" Dear Jack " ; that D with sentiment
Is overweighted.

Shy little love ! she did not dare ;
That flutter in the M shows where
She hesitated.

The darling girl ! what loving heed
She gives the strokes ; it does not need

Great penetration

To note the lingering, trusting touch ;
As if to write to me were such

A consolation.

" The flowers came ; so kind of you.
A thousand tJianks ! " Oh, fie! Miss Prue,

The line betrays you.
You know just there you sent a kiss ;
You meant that blot to tell me this,

And it obeys you.

; They gave me such a happy day.
I love them so. She meant to say,
" Because you sent them."


But then, you see, the page is small ;
She wrote in haste the words and all,
I know she meant them.

" At night I kept them near me, too,
And dreamt of them" she wrote, " and you,"

But would erase it.
Did she but have one tender thought
That perished with the blush it brought,

My love would trace it.

" This morning all the buds have bloton."
That flourish surely is " Your own ; "

'Tis written queerly ;
She meant it so. Ah, useless task
To hide your love 'neath such a mask

As that " Sincerely."

" Prudence." Those tender words confess
As much to me as a caress ;

And, Prue, you know it.
But then, to tease me, you must add
Your other name, although you had

Scarce space to do it.

A dash prolonged across the sheet
To close the note ? the little cheat,

No. When she penned it
She meant its quavering length to say
That she could write to me for aye,

And never end it.


Prue ! Love is like the flame that glows
Unseen till, lightly fanned, it grows

Too fierce to quell it.
And mine ! Ah, mine is unconfessed ;
But now, that dash and all the rest,

I'll have to tell it.




/CHEEKS that are shirato white,
^^ Eyes that are deep nankin blue,
Heart that I fear me is quite
Hardened as porcelain too.


Antique, of course, and a fright !
Porcelain never is new.


I know this passionless sprite,
Sweet Miss Thalia ; do you ?

Fickle as May


And as bright ?

Dances each night until two,
Flirts on the lake by moonlight.

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Online LibraryErnest De Lancey PiersonThe merry muse; society verse by American writers → online text (page 2 of 7)