George Willett.

Blades o' Bluegrass: choice selections of Kentucky poetry, biographical ... online

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With their love and high endeavor, and their noble deeds

and aims;

Of heroic days behind us, now there's nothing to remind us

But the "Solitary Horseman" in the narrative of James!

For, the Knights so celebrated, in these days degenerated
Would be madmen or marauders — we should ridicule their
cause;
And the Pirate of the shipping would be hanged, or get a
whipping ;
And the Troubadours be prisoned, under local vagrant
laws!



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92 BLADES O' BLUEGRASS.

Now, the soul that scorns to grovel, has no solace but the
novel
Of Sir Scott, or James, or Bulwer, on the Times of Long
Ago!
When were Brian de Bourbeon, and the mighty Coeur de
Lion,
And Sir Launcelot, and Arthur, and immortal Ivanhoe.

For, the prosy and pedantic have extinguished the romantic,
And the pomp and pride of Chivalry are driven from the
stage;
All is now so faint and tender that the world has lost its
gender,
And the enervate Esthetic is the model of the age!

Gborgb M. Davie.



WHEN LOVING HEART'S THE GOAL.

How oft he 's praised those eyes of mine.
And in them says, ''Heav'n's light doth shine.

Reflecting Heav'n's own blue."
But does he know that in his own
The depths of soul e'er in them shone,

Evincing love most true?
That all he sees in mine to praise
Reflects the love in those that gaze

So tenderly in mine?
How all my inmost soul goes out.
In perfect trust — without a doubt.

In those dark orbs that shine!
I feel and know he loves me true —
Love beams from dark eyes as from blue —

They mirror forth the soul.

They speak — tho' no words tell the tale;

More potent are — for love*s avail,

When loving heart's the goal.

John Hoskins.



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ASPIRATION. 93



ASPIRATION.

Who would not be a boy again
With all the impulse of his youth,

With life wild-throbbing in each vein,
And in his soul the soul of truth;

With hopes as fresh as matin dew —

As roseate as the sunset glare;
With aspirations high and true,

And future prospects, O how fair!

Ah! who e'er lived to be a man
And realized his boyhood dreams?

Wealth, honor, fame, are spectres wan,
Untinted by hope's magic beams.

The mountain which we looked upon,
And thought so high in childhood days.

Seems, when its highest height is won,
A little hill to manhood's gaze.

And just beyond another hill
Still lures us with its mellow haze;

When it is reached another still
Gleams faintly on our ravished gaze.

Thus on and on, forever on.

Our path of duty upward lies;
Nor will its utmost height be won

Till we shall scale yon starry skies.

S. P. Bryan.



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94 BLADES O' BLUEGjRASS.



A KENTUCKIAN KNEELS TO NONE BUT GOD.

[Colonel Crittenden, nephew of John J. Crittenden, United States
Senator for Kentucky, commanded the filibuster forces taken prisoners
at sea, near Havana, August 15, 1851. Doomed to death by the Cuban
authorities, and ordered to be shot on the i6th, they were all com-
manded to kneel. Colonel Crittenden spumed the command with
these words, *'A Kentuckian kneels to none but God"]

Ah! tyrant, forge thy chains at will—

Nay, gall this flesh of mine;
Yet thought is free, unfettered still,

And will not yield to thine.
Take, take the life that Heaven gave,

And let my heart*s-blood stain thy sod;
Bui know ye not Kentucky's brave

Will kneel to none but God?

You 've quenched fair Freedom's sunny light.

Her music tones have stilled,
And with a deep and darkened blight

The trusting heart have filled!
Then do you think that I will kneel

Where such as ye have trod?
Nay, point your cold and threat'ning steel;

I '11 kneel to none but God.

As summer breezes lightly rest

Upon a quiet river,
And gently on its sleeping breast

The moonbeams softly quiver —
Sweet thoughts of home lit up my brow,

When goaded with the rod;
Yet these can not unman me now —

I'll kneel to none but God.

And though a sad and mournful tone

Is coldly sweeping by,
And dreams of bliss forever flown

Have dimm'd with tears mine eye —



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A STAB. 95

Yet mine 's a heart unyielding still —

Heap on my breast the clod;
My soaring spirit scorns thy will;

I '11 kneel to none but God.

Mary E. Wilson-Betts.



THE STAB.

"Of sudden stabs in groves forlorn."— Hood's Eugene Aram.

[John James Piatt says of this : " Nothing could be better ; it is
a tragic little night-piece which Heine could not have surpassed in
its simple graphic narration and vivid suggestiveness.*']

On the road, the lonely road,

Under the cold, white moon,
Under the ragged trees, he strode;
He whistled, and shifted his heavy load —

Whistled a foolish tune.

There was a step, timed with his own,

A figure that stooped and bowed;
A cold white blade that gleamed and shone.
Like a splinter of daylight downward thrown —

And the moon went behind a cloud.

But the moon came out so broad and good

The bam cock woke and crowed.
Then roughed his feathers in drowsy mood.
And the brown owl called to his mate in the wood

That a dead man lay on the road.

Wn^L Wai,lace Harney.



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96 BLADES O » BL UEGRASS.



I LOVE YOU.

I LOVE you! I love you!
In vain have I tried

To banish your image, 't is now at my side :
I see your bright smile, I hear your sweet voice,
I wish, Oh I wish, that I were your choice !
You know not the anguish that burdens my heart,
And the keen sense of shame that your scorn can impart ;
I fain would forget it, would hide it away.
But haunting me ever, a voice seems to say,

" I love you ! I love you ! "

I love you ! I love you !
But without avail;
Love unrequited is such a sad tale;
Slighted and jilted, I longingly sigh,
For one little smile, as you pass by.
You look with indifiFerence upon my despair,
You do not, you would not, my least sorrow share ;
I 've vowed to forget you, so frequent, so oft,
But then comes the voice, so sweet and so soft,

" I love you ! I love you ! "

I love you! I love you!
I can not control

This great load of love, it burdens my soul :
I pine and I languish alone in my grief.
You, and you only, can bring me relief.
But think not I chide you, indeed I do not —
If you would request it, 't would all be forgot ;
My heart wants for nothing when you are nigh,
But when you are absent, ah, then comes the sigh,

"I love you! I love you!"

I love you! I love you!
Yes, love is my theme ;
Through the long hours of night, 't is of love that I dream



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A LULLABY, • 97

When the spring time returns, when winter has fled,
Will you think of me only as of one that is dead?
When the soft summer breeze sings the flowers to rest,
When hearts are so happy, so free from distress,
Oh, will you remember, when in the gay throng,
That there is one singing, that this is his song?
" I love you ! I love you ! "

Frederick M. Spotswood.



A LULLABY.



Oh ! baby fair.

With dark brown hair,

And eyes of heaven's own blue ;
Where, seems to me,
I think I see

An Angel peeping through.

Oh ! sacred joy !
My darling boy,

I feel that thou art giv'n
Unto my care,
And over there

An Angel less in heav'n.

Oh! sacred trust!
As God is just,

I '11 lavish all my care
On thee, my love.
Till heav'n above

Shall call my Angel there.

John HosKiNa



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98 BLADES O ' BL UE GRASS.



THE OLD YEAR AND THE NEW IN THE COLI-
SEUM AT ROME.

Now chaste Diana, like a Dorian maid,
Across the star-sown fields of light pursues
The God of Day. Companions of the chase,
The steady planets and the twinkling stars.
With noiseless glide, press onward in their course
Upon the burning trail of Helios.
In wild pursuit full half Italians sky
Is passed, and now the Huntress-Goddess stands
Upon the zenith with her bended bow.
There, pausing, peerless in her silver robes.
She views the shoreless sea of ether spread
Around, above, beneath, and cheers her train.
Meanwhile swift Sol, with half the sky 'twixt him
And those that follow in his glowing path.
Has forced his coursers o*er the midland sea
And whirls his chariot toward Aurora's gate.
*Twas thus that race began when sun and moon
And stars were fashioned out of nothingness;
And thus it must continued be till all
The hosts of earth and sea and sky return
Again to Chaos wild.

But oh! fair moon.
How kind thy mellow beams do soften down
Uncomeliness and beautify these ruins !
The Coliseum in its splendors new
Had ne*er more solemn loveliness than now.
With its majestic wrecks so softly draped
In thy pure snowy light. These crevices
Through which uncounted twinkling stars do peep.
As if the sky looked down with Argus eyes
Upon the rents of ruthless time; these walls
Which rough destruction has deprived of all
Their polished marbles, chiseled erst in forms
That seemed to speak, and o'er them drawn instead
The furrows deep of desolation's plow;



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OLD YEAR AND NEW IN THE COLISEUM. 99

This vast elliptic sweep of walls around

The Gladiator's circus, compassing

The famed arena, like to giant hills

Around the placid lake, embosomed deep

Within the circuit of their lofty peaks ;

These myriad plants and varied flowers, that grow

Among the rents and o*er the mouldering rocks,

Decay has scathed with her dissolving breath;

This matchless relic of the mighty dead,

Though coming down to us, wrapped in the charm

And potent spell which hoar antiquity

E*er throws around the hallowed works of art.

Seems yet more lovely now with all its wrecks,

While yonder pitying Moon doth fold it round

With her pure winding sheet. Nor less dost thou.

Fair Queen of Night, the soft enchantment of

Thy mellow beams impart to skeletons

Of other structures, which Eternal Rome,

In times since numbered with the distant past.

Erected round this spot.

Lo! from these walls*
Proud height the classic eye doth search and rest.
At intervals, upon the seven hills —
The little mounts immortalized in song —
Now dwindled down, by Time's efiacing hand,
Beneath their lofty height on glory's page.
The modern Romans, when they lost the high
Thoughts of empire held by ancient Romans,
Quitted the seven hill-tops and builded
Where the Campus Martins compassed lowlands.
And even the hills themselves, so high in Rome
Of old, have sunken downward to the plane
Of these degenerate sons of noble sires.
The Quirinal and Capitol show life.
But not the life of ancient Rome.

The eye
Turned southward rests upon the mighty ruins
Of Caracalla's Baths, a giant pile,
Attesting in its fall the pomp and power



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lOO BLADES O' BLUEGRASS.

Of him who o'er the world did tyrannize,

And bathe his fratricidal hand in blood

That warmed the gentle Gaeta's heart. Whilome

The gifted Shelley, musing o'er these walls,

Amid the flowers that fed upon their ruins

And filled the willing air with wild perfumes,

Did catch the inspiration shadowed forth

In his Prometheus ; and from such wrecks,

Arising like enchanted images,

There came some of the sweetest thoughts that e'er

Exalted Byron's muse.

Now turns the eye
Unto the west, where, like a spotless sheet
Of Alpine snow, the moonbeams do enrobe
The Caesar's palace, wonder of the world.
See shattered arch, and column crushed, and walls
To dust and fragments crumbled. Trees have grown
To giant strength upon the mighty waste,
And twined and fixed their deeply planted roots
In halls that once resounded with the harp
And held the sovereignty of mighty Rome.
Now poisonous weeds and hoary ivy, grown
Until its tendrils seem the trunks of trees
Upon whose growth long centuries were spent.
Usurp saloons and halls and royal rooms
Once graced by Roman Emperors and filled
With all the noblest works of ancient ait.
Envenomed reptiles creep o'er frescoed roofs
And o'er mosaic floors that erst did feel
The haughty presence of Imperial dames.
That royal palace now remains a heap
Of wrecks o'er which confusion reigns supreme.
Prom out the solemn pile the wailing wind
Is heard, as o'er Campagna's plain it floats;
All else is hushed and silent like the tomb.
But further on the yellow Tiber bears
His mountaiii flood and murmurs in his course
The storied origin of Rome, and tells
The weird legends which immortal bards



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OLD YEAR AND NEW IN THE COLISEUM. lOI

Did sing upon his classic shores, when Rome
Was mistress of the world.

Lo! northward now
The Forum opens to the eye, and calls
To mind the proud assemblies of the State,
While all around majestic temples stood.
And statues of the Gods, and busts of men,
And Tully thundered from the rostra words
That honied eloquence ne'er spoke before.
Above the Forum see the Capitol,
Still lifting high into the air its tower
With solemn antique grace! Beneath its walls.
Imbedded in the Capitolian mount,
The prisons frown which Ancus Marcius built
When Rome was but an infant colony.
Imprisoned here, in these unholy cells.
In which Jugurtha starved and Catiline's
Accomplices did share the traitor's death.
Our I<ord's Apostle Peter once was chained
By stem decree of Nero's bloody code.
At his command a limpid spring
Gushed forth from out the dungeon's rock, as pure
And cool and pearly as Bgeria's fount;
And still it bubbles there to quench the thirst
Of pilgrims to the consecrated spot.
I<o ! further in the distance rises, like
A globous. cloud suspended in the air,
The noblest dome that man throughout all time
E'er lifted to his God — an emblem fit
And model worthy of the concave sky
Which forms the dome of nature's temple proud.
'Tis worthy there to hang and to adorn
St. Peter's, fairest church that man e'er built
And consecrated to the living God;
Yes, prouder far than all the temples old
Which superstition reared unto the Gods
Whom Pagans have adored.

The noon of night
Has come, and thoughts more wild than this wild scene



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I02 BLADES O' BLUEGRASS,

Crowd on the mind. The Old Year and the New

As Gladiators seem in mortal strife

Within the Coliseum's fated walls.

A conflict more almighty was not when

The arch fiend, with his hosts of ruined angels,

In heaven's broad purlieu met the sons of light,

Led on to battle by Omnipotence;

Nor when the storied giants Ossa piled

On Pelion to dethrone the Thunderer.

The glad spectators of this scene are not

The eighty thousand sons of Rome who filled

These seats while Titus sat as arbiter,

And with his festivals an hundred days

Did dedicate to feats of strehgth and shows

Of wickedness this wondrous theater.

Now goblins, ghosts, and spirits, forms divine.

And shapes satanic fill the air and crowd

These seats as numerous as the sands that bleach

Old ocean's storm-lashed shore. Here Life and Death,

Youth and Age, Disease and Health, War and Peace,

Famine, Pestilence, and Mortality,

The Past, the Present, and the Future dark,

With other forms as numerous as the stars,

Together now have congregated all.

From every quarter of the universe,

To see the noble Gladiator die;

While old Eternity, enthroned above

In Fate's dread chair, sits arbiter sublime

And views the awful strife.

The noon of night
Impends. One moment more must pass, and then
The Year that wears the diadem will fall,
Forever fall, into the changeless past.
How pregnant is this moment with rapt thoughts!
This moment! It doth to the future bind
The past and make of them one boundless, vast,
Sublime Eternity. It is that link,
Without which in duration's endless chain
All past, all future and the present time



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OLD YEAR AND NEW IN THE COLISEUM. 103

Were disconnected parts confounded worse

Than dire confusion's self. In its brief span

Swift memory waves her life's restoring wand

And calls up from the past immortal things,

Whose genesis was far beyond the date

Of the Cloaca Maxima and tomb

Of Scipio. Events which filled long times

And great discoveries in the realm of art

And science, which the dragging centuries

Had scarce made known, now flash like vivid dreams

Across the mind. The changeless stars which saw

Arcadian shepherds watch their nightly flocks

Upon yon Palatine, ere Romulus

Had founded there the Citadel of Rome,

Shine o'er us now. And yon same moon, that threw

Her mellow beams upon the Pantheon,

The shrine of all Rome's Gods and Goddesses,

Two thousand years ago, rolls on unchanged

Upon the silver chariot of the night.

Yon deep blue sky, the pride of tropic climes,

Looks on us with the same bright starry eyes

That watched the City of the Seven Hills

As from the work of Romulus it rose

To majesty and grandeur ne'er surpassed.

Yon Tiber winds his wonted course along

The shores which once were clad with glory's pomp,

And bears his waters from the Appenines

Into the midland sea just as he did

When, centuries ago, ^Eneas came

With all the Gods had spared of fallen Troy

And landed on his banks. All else how changed !

The Eternal City wears ephemeral hues,

The Caesar's palace, once the pride of Rome,

Remains a heap of ruins wild. The hills,

Upon whose crests the famous City stood.

Have crumbled down and scarcely seem to rise

Above the rubbish which two thousand years

Have piled around their base. The Forum lies

Deep buried 'neath the waste of centuries.



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I04 BLADES O' BLUEGRASS,

War, Famine, Pestilence and flood and flame

Have swept o'er ancient Rome, and naught remains

To tell where glory dwelt, save mighty wrecks

Which greet the eye like to immortal deaths.

The Gods who erst were worshiped here are gone,

And crumbled into dust their gorgeous shrines,

And borne away their comely busts of bronze

And marble statues to adorn the halls

Of those their sculptors deemed barbarians.

Unto the memory of the Christian dead,

Whom wild beasts tore and fire consumed to make

A holiday for Roman elegance,

This vast arena has been set apart

And consecrated by his Holiness,

And prayers ascend now to the Triune God,

Where Jove was throned and warrior Gods displayed

In men the showman's arts.

That moment brief,
So full of thought, is gone. The olden year
Beneath his adversary lies. The Past
Has claimed him as his spoil and bears him off,
While Time proclaims Eternity's decree.
And gives the empire of the universe
Unto the glad New Year, the victor proud.
No shout goes up to rend the air, as did
Of old when victory was here proclaimed,
And countless Latin and Barbaric tongues
Made the welkin ring with joy. The olden
Year his given span of life has measured ;
The cold has chilled the current of his soul ;
The winds have sung his solemn requiem,
And Time with one hand pointing forward to
The future's dark and mystic canopy,
The golden chronoscope which measures out
The moments and the hours that multiply
Themselves in days and years and centuries.
And with the other reaching backward to
The frowning past, the tablet and the style
With which he makes the record of all things.



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OLD YEAR AND NEW IN THE COLISEUM, 105

Has noted all the Old Year's deeds or good
Or bad upon Eternity's vast scroll
That changes never more.

All hail New Year!
Welcome upon the vacant seat of Time !
During thy reign may flourish all the arts
And sciences that do make their progress
In Beauty's realm or in the wide domain
Of usefulness. Thou mayest promote good
Learning until mortal men and women
Do write and send abroad immortal books,
Whose words of wisdom and philosophy
May give forth thoughts on whose eternity
The fate of governments and peoples rest.
In thy allotted reign may be accomplished
More for human welfare than centuries
Of old could yield to slower footed life.
Thy progress o'er the world by mortal woes
Must needs be marked and loved ones oft be sent
Into the spirit land. But who can blame
Thee for such deeds? Their three-score years and ten
Have been assigned to mortals all; but crimes
And wrongs and wasteful modes of living life
Have made their years contract, and, worse than that,
Entailed upon their offspring yet unborn
The elements of dire and fixed disease
And death. Were mortals what they should be now.
And had their days been all well spent, their death
Had come with worn-out life and proved a kind
And gentle breeze to waft their souls away.
And wing them off to amaranthine climes.
Yes, of all the agencies with which thy
Deeds are wrought. New Year, that one whose emblem
Is the glass and scythe must bring to mortals
The saddest sorrows. Yet this should not be.
When dire disease shall come upon the good
And, ghastly and emaciate, their forms
Shall scarce sustain the waning vital spark
That lights its fragile tenements, and fierce



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Io6 BLADES O ' BL UEGRASS,

And racking tortures make all life a curse,
Oh! then thou mayest unto them bring sweet death,
The hush of groans, the calm of sorrow's sea,
The grand emancipation of the soul
Prom all its earthy trammelings of flesh,
That it may soar among the stars and drink
New life from fountains of perennial bliss.
Rome, January i, 1856. R. T. Durrett.



" EARTH HAS NO SORROW THAT HEAVEN
CAN NOT HEAL."

The poet hath said, that whate'er be our grief-
No matter what sorrow the heart may feel —

We must look to Heaven to find relief.
For '* Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can not heal."

So the poet hath said, and surely we know
That such blessed relief from our sorrow is given;

But how many turn, when all look below.
To seek for one ray of the sunshine of Heaven.

When the heart with some mighty sorrow is torn,
And we bend like a reed 'neath affliction's strong might,

O, who can believe, when so sad and forlorn.
That day will succeed such a dark dreary night?

And who, in his anguish, can look up and feel

That " Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can not heal?"

O, all ye who struggle and toil upon earth.
Whose hearts are made heavy by misery and grief,

Look upward! The power that gave sorrow birth
Will send to a poor soul some heavenly relief.

And God will His infinite mercies reveal.

For " Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can not heal."

Katie Jbssei,.



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IN EXILE. 107



IN EXILE.

An exile to the pine and palm,
I see the far-winged summer brood,

Through azure depths of endless calm,
Above a nursling solitude.

On ample breadths of bloom unfurled,
As sweet as that voluptuous South,

When Antony gave the Roman World
For Egypt's Cleopatra mouth.

All things of sight and sound appear
To breathe of nothing but content,
As if, unheeded through the year,
• The vagrant season came and went.

Yet often, when I hear the rain.

In fleecy vapor, whisper low.
Like ghosts about the window pane.

My heart would leap to see the snow.

To see, beyond the frozen meres,
In chalk and crayon's black and white,

The river hills, through atmospheres.
Wind-blown in dazzling points of light.

In smooth white level lies the croft,
A mound of snow the boxwood shines ;

Still sweep the trowels white and soft,
In sloping curves, and sweeping lines.

Soft flurries, as a shadow blurs
The page in passing, light and fleet.

Of soft warm faces wrapped in furs.
Of faces passing on the street.

I see them through the falling rain.
Through all the years that flow between,

Like ghosts about my window pane,
Among the musk and evergreen.



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Io8 BLADES O' BLUEGRASS.

Old boyish friends, the fair young wife,
Who watched with me so long ago;

As if across another life,
In all the softly falling snow.

While yearning in the pine and palm,
The winds do chide uncounted hours,

Whose unspent summers dull the calm,
In soft still utterances of flowers.

WiLi, Wai^i^acb Harnby.



TO A MARGUERITE.

Some love the rose in blushing pride,

And some the lily sweet.
But let them both in envy hide,

I love the Marguerite.

The air is filled with sweet perfume

Of flowers at my feet.
The prairie glistens with their bloom,

And chiefest, Marguerite.

I love the fair and modest flower

Where'er its smile I meet,
It lends a charm to every hour,

The cheerful Marguerite.

O, spirit pure embalmed in bloom,

O, soul and form complete,
O, eyes that can dispel all gloom,

Ye dwell in Marguerite.

J. Stoddard Johnston.



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SOLITUDE, 109



SOLITUDE.

Oft have I strolled alone where it did seem
The foot of man before had ne*er intruded,

By cliff or cave, or by some lonely stream,


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