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if A MAR A



A N ;')



OTHERPOEMS



LAMARA



AND



OTHER POEMS



BY



GEORGE HOMER MEYER



SAN FRANCISCO

A. ROMAN & Co., PUBLISHERS & BOOKSELLERS
1878



COPYRIGHT 1878
A. ROMAN & CO.



Bancroft Library
MI4B



Dedicated to
MY FATHER AND MOTHER.



PUBLISHERS' PREFACE.



The little collection of poems herewith presented
the work of a native Californian, the son of a
pioneer of '49 is given to the public on the occa-
sion of the Author's twentieth birth-day.

The reader will find the verses possessed of a
special interest, not so much perhaps for any extra-
ordinary literary merit or marks of peculiar origin-
ality, as for the unmistakable evidence of talent and
industry that has enabled a boy in years, inspired
by nothing more than the somewhat dull routine of
ranch life in Sonoma County, to do so creditable a
piece of work as the longer poem, " Lamara."

Some of the shorter poems have been published
in the Sonoma Democrat and other local papers,
but most of them are here put in type for
the first time, and given to the reading public
as the bud of a possible blossom in the garden
of poetic literature.



CONTENTS.



Lamara, 7

Irene, 48

The Nun, 62

Lutzen, - - 73

A Russian River Legend, - 80

Alabama, - 91

The Fairy's Secrets, 94

The Siren of Song, 95

Gethsemane, 97

Unknown, - 98

After the Battle, 99
A Legend of Santa Rosa, - - 101

Dying, - 103

The Grape-Gatherers, 105

The Lost Grave, - 106

The Mother's Cross, 108

Caster's Dead, - 109

Rosabel, 111

Slumber, - 113
A Lamentation, ... - 114



6 CONTENTS.

Orgetorix, - 115

My Dream, 117

The Brothers, - - 118

Remorse, - 120

The Ocean-Queen, - 122

Good Night, 124

Fishing, - - 125

A Fragment, 127

Clan-Ronald, - - 128

Waiting, 129

Death-Life, . -131

Black Point Musings, 133

The Minstrel's Curse, - - 134

Playing Chess, 140



AMARA.



CANTO FIRST.



A gorgeous western sunset sky,
Too fair for man's profaning eye ;
A long, low range of verdant hills,
Adown whose sides a thousand rills
In crystal brightness 'neath the glow
Of sunset ever downward flow ;
Or melt in air and fade away
Ere reaching earth in snowy spray.
A long, bright reach of ocean strand,
Of pearly shells and golden sand,



LAMARA.

Extending narrowly between

The ocean blue and upland green,

As nature's own division line

To part the worlds of shore and brine.

The calmest of all crystal seas,

Unstirred by keel or flying breeze,

And on whose bosom, wide and vast,

No shade of cloud or mist is cast,

One graceful bark upon its tide

Reposes safe and none beside.

How fair the sky's enchanting blue !
How calm the sea of deeper hue!
That floweth far from sand and shore
Where mortal sight may not explore,
To distant fairy isles that lie
Beyond the power of human eye.
How fair the hill-tops, robed in green,
Now gilt with sunset's golden sheen ;
And how the fading monarch flings
His light upon the folded wings
Of yonder vessel, resting there,
As graceful as a bird of air.
As fair and innocent she seems
As visioned barks in happy dreams.
Surely, in scene so calm and pure,
A dark resolve may not endure.



LAMARA.

And now, as twilight shadows fall,
And darkness spreads her sable pall,
A faint and still recurring sound
Dispels the deathly silence 'round;
And manned by crews of southern hue,
Three fairy barks shoot o'er the blue ;
And as with measured strokes they glide
Above the phosphor-gleaming tide,
Their voices, bursting into song,
Peal gloriously proud and strong.
Yet, sounding o'er the dark'ning main,
Sometimes the rowers' haughty strain
From song of triumph seems to change
To music wildly sweet and strange.

" Row, brothers, row !
Bend the gleaming oar ;
Row, brothers, row !
Soon we'll reach the shore.
Tightly clench each iron hand,
Grasp the oar like hilt of brand,
Soon we'll safely reach the strand
Row, brothers, row !

" Row, brothers, row !
Stern our hearts and bold ;

Row, brothers, row !
Dear the Spaniard's gold.



10 LAMARA.

Rovers we on sea and shore,
Dark and stern in strife and war,
Prompt for Southron gold and gore
Row, brothers, row !

" Row, brothers, row !
Brief the mortal's hour ;

Row, brothers, row !
Seize its seldom flower.
When we die, upon our biers,
Fall not maid's nor matron's tears
Who will mourn the buccaneers ?
Row, brothers, row ! "

The strange, wild chant hath ceased, and now

Grates on the shore each curving prow ;

And soon the whole wild-seeming band

Is grouped upon the wave-washed sand ;

And one there is who stands aside,

Majestic in his scorn and pride ;

And with dilated nostrils, there,

And flaming eyes, whose burning glare

Illumes a grand and kingly face,

Of more than earthly pride and grace,

And rearing proudly such a form

As never quails in strife or storm,

With belt bedecked with Seville brand



LAMARA. II

The gift of baneful Morgan's hand
With knightly cross and golden star,
Which on his breast in wars afar,
When battle's carnage raged around,
By royal fingers had been bound,
With look as .Eblis might have worn,
He stands embodied pride and scorn.
And ne'er a sign of fear or grief
Betrays the truth a fallen chief !

A murmur breaks the stillness now,
And, bowing with uncovered brow
Before the chief, whose mighty name
He honors still from very shame,
A stalwart man, whose locks the flow
Of years hath whitened into snow,
Advances from the murm'ring crowd,
And slowly, sternly speaks aloud :

" Lamara, late we claimed in thee
A leader both by land and sea ;
And while our rugged souls you swayed,
Deny not but that we obeyed ;
And while we owned thy ruling word,
Thou know'st in vain 'twas never heard,
And when to slaughter and to death
Thou led'st us 'mid the battle's breath,



12 LAMARA.

Where falchions flashed and bullets rained
If e'er we left thee unsustained
If e'er our courage damped or fell,
Then let thy recollection tell.

" And for thy then resistless sword,
Thy worth and daring we adored ;
And felt it no disgrace to bow
In vassalage to such as thou ;
And, loving, trusting thee so well,
We thought to storm the gates of hell
Were venture not too wild and dread
To daunt our souls if thou hadst led !

** But thou art changed : the fleets of Spain
For thee might safely plough the main;
And long it is since last we heard
From thy proud lips the stirring word
Which oft in conflicts past and gone
Was wont to cheer thy comrades on.
And O, methinks I see thee now!
As when with sulphur-darkened brow,
Godlike and kingliest of men,
Thou led'st us on at Darien !
But vain it is to thus recall
The scenes remembered by us all.
Enough ! Thou hast already heard,



LAMARA. 13

Yet hear again, our final word :
If thou our leader still wouldst reign,
Then backward to the Spanish main
Direct our course, and there once more
Become the chief thou wert of yore ;
And once again it shall be known
Lamara's blades are all his own.
Refuse and yet I need not tell :
Our firm resolve thou knowest well.
So answer, chieftain, claim thine own,
Or else we sail and sail alone ! "

Then burns the flame of scornful ire
Within Lamara's eyes of fire ;
His kingly form erect he rears
With pride that seems of other spheres ;
And with defiance, proud and high,
His scornful lips give their reply :
" Jerome and you, ye sullen crew
How much of gratitude is due
Your sordid souls from him who made
Your fortunes with unaided blade,
And spread for ye your fame world wide,
Let Him who rules above decide.
And shall Lamara's soaring soul
Yield to a nameless knave's control ?
Cringe, meek and fawning, to endure



1 4 LAMARA.

And list behest of every boor,
Who by low skill and treach'rous wile,
With scheming mind and heart of guile,
Hath made himself the chief of those
Who range them as their leader's foes ?
No, never ! On my breast I bear
And placed by royal fingers there
My kighthood's cross and golden star,
Obtained in foreign wars afar ; ,

And at my girdle hangs the brand
Received from noble Morgan's hand,
The boldest chief who ever made
Himself a name by falchion-blade.
And, tremblers, by these symbols know
I prize the high, I scorn the low !
So go your way, nor prate to me
Of giving pledge to such as ye !
Lamara ne'er will rule your band
But with free heart and unbound hand.
'Twill ne'er be said ye clipped his wings
The friend of heroes and of kings ! "

He ceases now, and proudly turns
And waves his hand as tho' he spurns
The thought of fear and of despair,
And casts it by like idle air.
His arms he folds upon his breast,



LAMARA. 15

And stands a form of careless rest.
And calm and cold, with tranquil eye,
With ne'er a word and ne'er a sigh,
He sees the rovers cross the sand
And guide the boats away from land.
And o'er the darkly shadowed tide,
Phantasmal barks of night, they glide ;
Now reach the vessel there, and fade
To nothingness within her shade.

The moments pass, and as on high
The stars begin to light the sky,
A breath of cool and fresh'ning breeze
Comes wafted from the northern seas.
And now Lamara's gazing eyes
Behold the snowy canvas rise,
And answering to her steersman's hand,
The vessel's prow is turned from land ;
And now, as fills her swelling sail,
She glideth on before the gale ;
And like a living creature, free,
Flies bounding onward, o'er the sea !

In deathly stillness on the sands
The silent rover chieftain stands,
And never do his glances roam
From that far speck amid the foam ;



1 6 LAMARA.

But e'er he bends, as on she flies,
Upon the bark his straining eyes.
His plumed and jeweled bonnet now
He teareth from his burning brow,
And from his forehead, high and bare,
Streams back the raven, wind-blown hair.
And now the waves about his feet
Advance, recede, in silent beat ;
And back a space, as one in trance,
He moves with still unwav'ring glance.
His mind conceives "of nothing save
That less'ning speck upon the wave ;
And thus, with fixed and straining gaze,
He stands until the rising haze
Hath hid the vision that enchains
His sight, and nothing more remains.

And now within the Rover's eyes

The tears of grief and anguish rise ;

His swelling eye-lids brimming o'er,

Betray the woe repressed before.

Arid, kneeling low upon the sands,

He waves his bloodless, trembling hands ;

And high above the billows' beat,

In tones of sadness, wildly sweet,

Resounds his voice : " O, sweet Ma Belle !

Farewell, forever more, farewell !



LAMARA. 1 7

For ne'er again shall my fond eye
Thy loved and lovely form descry !
No more shall wretch'd Lamara roam
On thy brave decks, his ocean-home !
Ne'er more shall lie him down to rest
As safe within thy faithful breast,
From all of human ills and harms,
As pillowed in Madonna's arms !
No more beneath thy bold ensign
Proclaim me lord of ocean-brine ;
Nor e'er command thy leaden rain
To prove my vaunting not in vain !
And tho' my soul may long and yearn,
To bless mine eyes thou'lt ne'er return !
And O, thou lost and loved Ma Belle,
Farewell, forever more, farewell ! "

The Rover's voice is faint and low ;
Now falls to sobs of bitter woe ;
While burning tears in torrents pour
From eyes that never wept before.
And e'en the night-winds seemed to sigh
While on with restless wings they fly,
As moved by witnessing the grief
That overwhelms the fallen chief.
And from her place in heaven's crown,
Each tender star beams softly down,



1 8 LAMARA.

As tho' before such woeful sight
She fain would veil her silver light,
Nor gaze on one so young and fair,
Oppressed with anguish and despair.

But short the time that grief controls
This proudest of all human souls ;
For soon he rises from the sand
And strikes away with hasty hand
The drops that dim his ebon eyes,
And quells his bosom's rising sighs.
And now, once more, with saddened air,
And yet with voice whose tones despair
No more controls, tho' solemn, yet
Unstirred by longings of regret,
He speaks, and, ever rolling near,
These words the rising billows hear :

" And so my one time faithful band,
We part on this, the strangers strand.
And ye my voice will rule no more
In revel wild or raging war.
Our lives are s.undered, ne'er again
Shall we together sweep the main.
Ye sail from hence to tropic zone,
And I abide me here alone.
Alone save that this western shore



LAMARA. 19

By proud Castile be lorded o'er ;
And then remaineth there but one,
A Roman's action, to be done :
With dagger's edge my heart to rend,
And thuS win sure and speedy end.
For dark and stern and wild the hour
When I shall lie in Spanish power ;
And dread the death of cord and shame
That waits the bearer of my name.

" They said, my crew, that I was changed,
From our wild, reckless life estranged ;
I would not lead them o'er the main
To spoil the laden fleets of Spain ;
And that on land I led no more
To plunder Southron planter's store.
And he, that villain, hoary-haired,
Jerome, the crimson-handed, dared
To dictate terms of grace to me,
To me the one-time Lord of Sea !
That envied name in former days
Bestowed by daring Morgan's praise
And had contempt not stayed my hand
He then had died beneath my brand !
And yet my spirit trembled when
He spoke of crimson Darien ;
For there O, hoary-headed slave !
You little knew the thrust you gave



20 LAMARA.

" That fair-haired boy, I see him now,
His dark blue eye, his broad white brow,
As clear as when in daring wrath,
With sword in hand, he barred my path
The time I stormed the convent wall,
And dared defile the sacred hall
And cried, as waved his blade on high,

1 Thou wretch, and base assassin, die ! '
Alas, brave youth ! that taunting word
Too well thy ruthless foeman heard ;
And brief the conflict thou couldst wage
Against his wild and maddened rage ;
For weak thy brave and boyish hand,
Opposing dark Lamara's brand ;
And soon before me didst thou lie ;
And bathed in blood I saw thee die.

" And then came one with flying hair,
And kneeling low beside thee there,
Embraced thy torn and bleeding form,
And stanched the life-blood bright and warm.
But when she saw that thou wert dead,
No sab she gave, no tear she shed ;
But only breathed, ' My son, my son ! '
And lower still, ' His will be done ! '
And then her eyes, wherein there burned
A wild, wild fire, on me she turned,



LAMARA. 2 1

And murmured low, in wond'ring tone,
' This man a mother ne'er hath known ! '
Those words that look I could not bear ;
I hurried on and left her there.

" Yet once again, when strife was done,
The conquest ours, the treasures won,
A will I strove against in vain
Bore back the slayer to the slain.
But 'twas with all reluctant tread
I neared the still and silent dead.

" The dead ! for both lay lifeless there,
Like forms of sculptured marble rare.
The mother's blood some ruthless brand
Had spilled upon the thirsting sand.
Yet surely that relentless blade
.Had done but as she wished and prayed ;
For by that smile mine eyes could trace
Upon her calm and ashen face,
It seemed all things she wished were won
By dying thus beside her son.
'They lay upon the crimson sand,
Together lay, with hand in hand ;
With pallid lips unstirred by breath,
In all the loveliness of death.



22 LAMARA.

" And standing there a Presence came,
A low voice spoke and breathed my name
And then before my gazing eyes
A wondrous vision seemed to rise.
A form of all-enchanting grace,
A most divine and lovely face,
The brow with raven hair en wound,
And with a golden circlet crowned ;
And eyes so soft and angel-pure,
My guilty own could not endure
That glance that would their depths explore.
But shrank as ne'er they shrank before.
And yet methought this vision seemed
A something whereon I had dreamed ;
For, tho' my soul was bowed with awe,
I could but think that she I saw
Such angel-face, such tender mien
Mine eyes before had sometime seen.
Then seemed the years of life to roll
Backward from my bewildered soul ;
And as mine eyes now sank before
The glance that pierced my bosom's core,
I saw the fruits of conquest won
The lifeless mother and her son ;
And at the thought conviction came :
I knew and spoke my mother's name !



LAMARA. 23

" Once more I strove mine eyes to raise

To meet her calm, accusing gaze ;

And once again my spirit failed.

That till that hour had never quailed.

And now my shrinking sight again

Sank down upon the silent slain ;

And thence upon the crimson hand

That clasped the hilt of my red brand.

And while I gazed, a thrilling breath,

That pierced my soul like doom of death,

Within my hearing seemed to say,
' This blood thine own shall wash away ! '

And then, the wondrous spell withdrawn,

1 raised mine eyes and she was gone !

" And now, tho' months have rolled between,
Her form these eyes no more have seen.
And tho' my soul hath longed to hear
The words that bowed it once with fear,
Yet vain hath been the yearning all,
Those thrilling accents to recall.
And yet my spirit knows once more
That form shall rise my sight before.
In that dread hour, that comes the same
To lives unknown, and lives of fame :
What time my heart's red-streaming flood
Shall free my soul from stain of blood ! "



24 LAMARA.

The low voice fails, and on the sands
Erect and still Lamara stands ;
And in the depths of his dark eyes
A strange, far-seeing lustre lies ;
As tho' his vision dwelleth on
The forms and faces that are gone.
And now, as clouds the aerial blue,
And darker grows old ocean's hue,
While rising waves in wrath divide
The surface of his moaning tide,
And wild night winds make wailing moan.
The silent Rover stands alone.



CANTO SECOND.

O, California ! home of mine,
What charms of nature's own are thine !
Within thy rare and wondrous realm
What varied scenes the heart o'erwhelm !
What dreams of beauty man may find
To chain his soul, enthrall his mind !
And e'en the eye beholdeth change,



LAMARA. 25

Where all is beauty, rich and strange.
Here fair and lovely streams are seen
'Mid beds of ever living green ;
And there, in loftiness sublime,
Enduring monuments of time
Since earth had her beginning, stand
Thy peaks that shadow o'er the land,
Like statues calm in grand repose,
And crowned with everlasting snows.

But O, another harp than mine
Should praise the beauties that are thine !
Enchantments that to thee belong,
And weave and wreathe them into song !
Should sing of silver flowing rills,
Of Eden-vales and verdant hills
Within whose bosoms lie untold
And countless hoards of virgin gold ;
Of hillsides green with growing vines,
And high-lands dark with giant pines ;
Of crystal lake and inland sea,
And mighty rivers flowing free ;
And of thy weird and rugged shore
Where riseth the Pacific's roar.
For these, where brightest laurels shine,
O, western queen ! a place be thine !
And he who writes, tho' ill may tell



26 LAMARA.

His pen of scenes he loveth well,
Still thrills with pride, he lives as one
Who proudly calls himself thy son !

Yet tho' thy children well may love
Thy shores, thy waves, thy skies above,
It surely is not theirs alone
To know the beauties all thine own.
What one, tho' alien, e'er denies
The homage of admiring eyes,
When bursts upon his vision's range
Some scene of beauty, wild and strange ?
Not such the one I muse upon,
And, tho' a child of years agone,
Still dream that I can see him now
His stately form, his noble brow
As there like one entranced he stands,
Erect with clasped and folded hands,
Upon the ramparts stern and grey,
Where Spanish flag and pennons play
Above the walls of Monterey ;
And gazes with enraptured eye
Toward the gorgeous eastern sky,
Where, rising, Phoebus' radiant car
Begins its course thro' realms afar,
And dyes with crimson-gleaming glow
The seas of floating mist below.



LAMARA. 27

And all the scene so lovely seems,
The old man gazes on and dreams
He sees those gemmed and jewelled halls,
Those gates of pearl, and gilded walls,
That form that wondrous city fair
That waits the children of God's care.
And low the gazer murmurs now,
Upturning his uncovered brow,
While beam his eyes with softer light,
1 O, God ! I thank Thee for this sight ! "

A stern-faced man with lofty air

Of conscious power he standeth there ;

Yet vain is all his look of pride,

The signs of woe and care to hide.

Some hour of grief hath left its trace

Upon that worn, yet noble face ;

But tho' within his riven heart

The barbed and deadly-venomed dart

In aching wound may long remain,

Souls such as this no moaning deign.

And by his look he may be known

As one who grieves but grieves alone.

His raven hair is flaked with snow,
His eyes with midnight darkness glow ;
And 'neath his waving sable plume



28 LAMARA.

Are e'en endowed with deeper gloom.
Erect his form, tho' aged and worn,
As if in time's despite and scorn.
His face and brow of lordly cast,
Tho' youthful freshness long hath past ;
And well that high and haughty face
Proclaims him as of noble race ;
For in each full and pulsing vein
There throbs the proudest blood of Spain ;
And on his hand a priceless ring
The guerdon of a loving king
With starry shield and chevron-bar
Betrays the line of Aldamar.

A step upon the path of stone,
A voice of sweet and tender tone,
And lustrous eyes that meet his own
In loving and confiding glance,
Dispel the chieftain's gazing trance :
And surely ne'er did dreaming mind
More rapturous awaking find !

Full often hath the poison tongue

Of malice and of envy rung

In kindred ears the lying shame,

To taint his proud and spotless name,

That Aldamar's unyielding breast

No pulse of pity e'er possessed ;



LAMARA. 29

No loving tenderness was there
'Twos only scorn and hatred's lair !
And in that bosom one would find
No sympathy for human kind !

O, would those craven clods of earth

Who gave the shameless slander birth,

To stain this proven spirit's worth,

Could mark his changing visage now,

And how the shadows leave his brow ;

And deep within his midnight eyes

The dews of fond affection rise ;

And on the head of that young maid

How lovingly his hand is laid !

How tenderly the fingers press

In benediction of caress ?

O, scorn unto the wretches ! they

Who in their fallen malice say

The heart of Aldamar is steel

And earth's affections cannot feel !

Their souls should sink in guilt and shame,

And burn in infamy's dark flame !

To note the love intense and wild

He bears his brother's orphan child.

He greets the maid in loving tone,
Entwines her arm within his own,



3 LAMARA.

And then along the wall of stone,
As on they move in pensive stroll,
With gentlest and yet firm control
Directs the maiden's steps, the while
He lists with kind and gentle smile
The hesitating words and low
She speaks in accents strange, as tho'
She feared and felt within her mind
Her pleading would no favor find.

Upon the chiefs majestic brow,

Where beamed such kindliness but now,

The stern and sombre shadows rise,

And darkly glow his raven eyes.

Yet from those vice-like lips is heard

Not one unkind or hasty word ;

But careful hearing still he lends,

And only when Lenora ends

With dewy eyes her pleading prayer,

He speaks with calm and saddened air.

" Lenora, thrice hath pity wrung
This supplication from thy tongue ;
And twice mine answer hath been nay,
And yet again the word I say.
So stay thee, maid, entreat no more :
Thy task, compassion-wrought, is o'er ;



LAMARA. 31

And vainly o'er, for my decree
Is fixed as yon eternal sea,
And dark Lamara I have sworn
Lives not beyond to-morrow morn :
My idle word was never known,
My monarch's wishes are mine own ;
His bidding is my guide alone.

" Yet something doth thy zeal deserve,
Tho' from my faith I may not swerve ;
And I will tell thee what will burn
Deep in thy heart, and thou canst learn
How wasted is thy pleading breath
On him his crimes have doomed to death ; .
An awful tale which thou shalt know
For thine own sake yea, even tho'
The knowledge rend thee like the knife :
The dreadful sorrow of my life."
He seats the pale and trembling maid
Upon the massive balustrade ;
And then, with fingers closely pressed
Upon his broad and heaving breast,
He leans himself upon the stone,
His awful eyes far seaward thrown,
And speaks in low and hollow tone
The maid can scarce believe his own.



32 LAMARA.

" A fairer bark ne'er glided o'er
The trackless waves that wash the shore
Of either world than she who bore,
Now thirty years agone and more,
My bride, myself, and vassal band
From fair Hispania's tropic strand.


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Online LibraryGeorge Homer MeyerLamara : and other poems → online text (page 1 of 5)