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" The brawling boatman, hand upon his knife,
" I shrunk from him, to listen, with large eyes,
^' To Cheap Jack's lies, to me, unfathomed facts.

tTcumpets anD Sbawms

** Jar shocked me, as the ermine shrinks from

dirt —
" Not yet had life's intruders broken in.
" The first, fate sent. O, cursed pride of rank !
" A man-made gulf, where nature meant a line.
" To be a man in England, that is good !
" But 'tis — to be an English gentleman —
" An absolute of dominant repose.
" The sedentary shopman envies most
" The rich man's privilege of being clean,
" His pleasant ordered person, his fresh air,
' ' The drowsy sweetness of his nurturing.

' ' To be a laborer is bearable :

" He has his duties and his appetites,

" But to approach, catch at, and never reach,

" To hunger in the presence of the feast,

' ' To have the slumberless ' not proven ' writ,

" The Scottish verdict whispered 'gainst your life,

" *0, good enough, not quite a gentleman !'

" Is to be quicksand caught, while love stands near ;

" ' Not quite ' the shears which clip content away,

" And send men shivering across the fields.

'•' My life should have a worse intruder yet,
" One borne across life's threshold by myself:
" The shallow wisdom of a bubble world.
" Unhappy? No ! At sixteen life was sweet.

Crumpets anJ> Sbawms

" My father kept the inn, and, of the two,

" He labored most ; his son was not his drudge,

" But something to be coshered by his toil.

" An old lieutenant, housed by him for years,

" Had left him books ; and all these books were

mine !
" With greedy joy I read them, good and bad,
" Then to our attic, barn, and garden-plat,
" I swift transplanted all the bookish folk :
" Crime in the attic, revellers in the barn,
" But queens and damsels nigh the fuchsia-bed.
" Sometimes I anguished to the brink of tears,
" And sometimes choked to free myself with words.
" And then I let the lightning hurry down
" The broken lilt of some remembered song.
" My puzzled father heard, but never blamed.
" Love says, ' He's right !' thus helps to make us

" The town-folks grinned, because a churl resents
"The power which puzzles him, or sneered, 'half-
" I lived with Quentin Durward, not with them ;
" Had Madge's breast (no, not forgotten, Madge !) —
" A little, tireless bit of utter love :
" Big eyes, a crinkle in the blue-black hair ;
" The penny of the eagle and the child
" We'd broke in twain, and sworn ' to be as true
*' 'As the trout's backbone centers in the trout.'

XLmmpets anD Sbawms

" I found expression, when I tasted love,
" Agates are found, where we untreasure gold.
" My verse, my blossoms, had the sun of praise.
" Upon their leaves no critic insects crawled.
" No beetle nipped my roses for his food.

' ' The village paper printed all I wrote :
" Poor notes, but mine ; the black-cap sang his own.
" What days ! so large, so innocent, so true !
" Joy best appraises values, after all.
" In warm, sweet June, my little book was born.
" My father's purse had wrought the miracle.
" Friends bought it, and our guests, too, bought and

'' Madge and her mother dwelt beyond the town,

" Their cottage, almost hidden by the hills ;

" Small, but it filled my soul. I see it yet —

" A tall geranium filling up the panes,

" The tea-things ready for the homely meal ;

" Upon a chest of drawers the Bible lay ;

" There was the hollow fire-place, with its hook,

" With sweet turf smoking on the ample hearth.

" Back of the house, a little, whitewashed room,

" All sweet with salted rose-leaves, was for me.

" When June came round again, all was for me.

" Before the hazy hearth, we sat and planned.

' ' We planned our wedding and our wedding feast —

" How, Burns-like, I would make the isle renowned,

trumpets and Sbawms 23

" How we would help the old man at the inn,

" And how — Madge nodded — we would have six boys.

' ' One night I came back, all aglow, from her

" Through lanes, with tall ferns high above my head.

" I reached the inn, and rested on the porch,

" And heard two voices, then I heard my name.

" It was a famous noble and his wife.

" At length she said, ' Hear what the " Record " says.'

' * Her voice was mellow, warm with motherhood.

" And (see, 'tis yellow now,) read what she read :

This singer has the potency of growth, he has a
voice ; now let him sing his song. Matter is booked,
and always possible, but manner is the free, full gift
of God. So let him don his russet, cut a staff, and
buy experience ; even loue the world, if he will only
hate its livery.

* Then came quotations in a long array,

* Jewels which made a precious thing more rich.

' 'O, Hugh !' she said, ' this is but half the truth !
' ' This yeoman-bard has no imperious need
' ' To check his life or falsify his song.

* ' He is a picture, framed in simpleness ,

* ' For when we owe a debt to luxury,

' * Soon are we grinding in Philistia's pens.

* ' I see a freeman, when I see him walk,

' ' His sweetheart's head just level with his heart.

* ' A sea- pink, pressed against a boulder's breast !'

24 G^rumpets anD Sbawms

" ' A pity, aye, a pity,' answered Hugh,

" ' That he should lack the polish of the world,

' ' ' The gentle stimulus of women peers !

' ' ' How he might make men tremble with his pen ! '

" ' Dear Hugh,' she said, ' when satirists are made,

" ' A poet, think ! a poet is undone !'

" ' Won't poverty,' he answered, 'carbonize

'' ' His diamonds to boil next Tuesday's broth?'

" I felt the eagle-poison flush my brain.

" In that proud hour I hungered for the world.

" To know the world, what is it, but to know

" A million sneers, a thousand verging crimes ?

" To make a platform of our meanest self,

" From thence to preach the creed of levelling.

" Which crops the good, and stake-supports the ill?

" A traitor net should drag me to that world.

" What made that net? The triple thread : myself,

'' The poison in my heart, and summer dead.

" For winter blurs our isle out of the world.

" The inn was guestless, half its doors were barred,
" And shuttered windows spake of gloom within.
*' The stables, too, were bare ; the attic, cold,
" And stupor gyved the freedom work allowed.
" Grim months, lorn weeks, made up of dreary

" With what sick hate, I went forth every morn !

G^cumpets anJ) Sbawms 25

" What weary, wan, and tired morns they were,

" 'Neath the cold shadows of the narrow streets !

" I went o'er roads of rain-soaked, cloggy clay,

" With now and then a draggled hurry-by.

'' And yet the rain was best. It beat my face.

" A storm had been a joy, but oh ! that mist,

" That white, remorseless, cruel, clinging mist !

" The cruel gray of unimpassioned hate !

" When mist went back and sunbeams filtered through,

" I walked the wet, brown sands, and sought for peace.

" Before me foamed the dirty, leaden sea.

" I splashed through wavelets, all the beach was lone,

" Slipped on the weeds, broke with my stick the ice,

" Which thinly filmed the pools among the rocks :

" For it was cold, but not so very cold.

" High seas, and hurricanes, and bitter cold

" Were better than the mist, and drip, and chill.

" Thrice every week I hurried to the pier, —

" The old red sandstone, wash'd clean by the rain, —

" And waited with a dumb expectancy.

" Till far off came a grumble, then a sob,

" Then, red and blue, the lights burned through the fog,

" And the slow steamer drifted to my sight.

" A shout, a hawser thrown, a little crowd,

" And then with dragging feet I sought the inn.

" Why not that cottage, 'neath the rough-browed hill

" Far from the sob-lashed leaping of the sea.

26 a;rumpets anD Sbawms

" Out of the wind, nay, if sea voices came,

" Their rude roar fell to cozy lullabies, —

" There nested, with two angels, warmth and love,

" My wavy -haired, my all-life, little Madge,

' ' The sweetest woman woman ever bore !

" Why not ? The rough, fierce liquor of the world

" Had killed the taste for noble fruit and bread.

" I feared her eyes ; not yet that baser state,

" When I should hate the innocence I wronged.

" One day she wrote; coarse strokes, and yet, if truth

" Gave outward signs, each stroke was beauty's curve.

" O, yes, I went ; hoping, ' Perhaps she means

" ' To quarrel.' Men's careers are more than love.

" Just as I reached the door, she raised the latch.

" How trifles mark the climax of each pain.

" I know she wore a something touched with red.

" And look ! the old gun swings against the beam,

' ' Herring, the score, are stacked and hung to dry,

*' And o'er the scarlet of the living fire,

" A mighty caldron glugs and purrs content.

'' I filled her hearth, I tasted of her cup,

* ' I gave her, too, a proper Judas kiss ;

* ' And then — there are such poverties of shame,

" They will be stammered at the Judgment Day —

" I sneered at her rough hands, her faded shawl,

" The herring smell, the fashion of her hair.

trumpets anD Sbawma 27

" In wounding her, I bestialized myself,

" Ere insults had been reached, I anguished, too.

" When winging lark, with broken pinions falls,

" Not all at once the empyrean joy is lost ;

" But when the earth is reached, 'tis shapeless doom.

" She shut her sense against the pelt of words,

" And answered, ' John, you came to say " good-bye."

" ' Don't quite forget me, and I shan't forget

" ' The afternoon we first kept company.

" ' You kissed me in the meadow, by the oak,

" 'Your father's horses scurried 'cross the field.

" ' God bless you, John ! Best sleep with us to-night,

*' * For mother' 11 find her tongue, if you go home.

" ' The bed is made, and I'll unlace your shoes.'

" She knelt before me, pulling out the lace.

" My tears burst forth, and dropped upon her hair.

" She did this homely service not for me,

" But for the noble man I might have been ;

" For, home, and nuptial bliss, and babes unborn,

" Alas, alas ! I murdered, but she blessed.

" Not one sharp word. God blew the mist away,

'' That I might see my filthy, naked crime.

" Next morn, before she stirred, I sneaked away ;

" Shall I not see that better part again,

" When the death-damps are cold upon my brow,

" And soul to life's first citadel returns?

" God grant, that with the olden sights and sounds,

" Her first-time smile may come, but not the tear !

28 XLxnmvcts and Sbawms

" When love, the fellowship, has voided soul,

" Nor faith, nor hope, abideth in a man.

" And yet I had my rouse of prosperous days.

" Lord Hugh acknowledged me, allowed my claims.

" O, I suppose, I was his Frankenstein !

" Pride lifens what our condescension shapes.

" My verses, too, like sea-weed stretched and dried,

" Still kept their sea-pool tint and smacked of salt.

" The city papers praised the peasant's song.

" I found myself within historic gates.

" My lady's parrot and my lord's Bernard

" Had place there, too, and so had savage spears,

'' And burnished blades and barbarous bits from Ind.

" The splendid rooms, soft-tinted, full of light ;

" The giant vases, and the pale, sweet bloom,

" The shiny wood, carved gems, and oldtime gold,

" The vast array of flashing forks and spoons, —

" All these, at least, I could confront unawed.

" In the old inn, I'd ordered waiters, too,

" Footmen, past masters of these mysteries.

' ' At first, the women made me move askance ;
' ' I could not fancy them with common needs,
' ' Filled with our bitter-sweet humanity :
" White hands, and waxy order ; trailing robes
" Of frost-blown lace ; a nameless drowsy scent ;

trumpets anD Sbawms 29

" And restful voices, freighted with right words ;

'^ Their soft hair showing 'gainst my bristling beard ;

" Their soft silks neighboring my shining black;

" Their slim hands shaming mine, mine, good to toil ;

" Or, once it happed, to tug the life-boat oar.

" My shame-flush passed, for soon the women smiled,

" Because in women, worship cannot die ;

" Turned from the stars, it wastes itself in pugs.

" But while my lyrics pleasured womanhood,

" They could not spice the public hours of men.

" My hard -got gifts were what they most contemned,

" My blush confronted centuries of ease,

" I flamed with thought, while coolness was their

" Their bagatelles disowned my earnestness.
" Each mortal has some final, last resource,
" Something which nature keeps for desperate needs;
'' Too oft it is the evil of his good.
" To make this final thing a use, is mad !
" It is to toss your precious things, brocades,
" And gems, and pictures, books, and massy plate
*' To the fierce rioters, who, whetted thus,
" Press on the more, and shatter house and life.
" I could not move them. I would make them laugh 1

" I broke my dainty fancies at their feet.
" Treasures of former days of hope and faith
" Were sport for smoking-room obscenities.

30 Zvyxmvcts anJ) Sbawms

" One night I went. — The brandy spur had passed;

" And nothing but a dogged dullness stayed.

" Already on my senses beat the smell

" Of the foul slum which hovelled me by day ;

" When H — (the baronet) came striding past,

" And halted me just underneath the lamp.

" 'I've read your book, sir poet,' so he said,

" ' The noble things you could not help but write.

*' ' You've put a score of carvings on fame's shelf,

" 'And every night for us, you jig one down.

" ' You cannot catch our light, insidious ease; '

" ' Our fore-bears paid for it, and we still pay,

" ' In books unread, or " the best sayings " skimmed,

*' ' In the first sweetness of the morning, lost

" ' In choking heat, and utter emptiness.

" 'I, in my better hours (which happen, too),

" ' Have loved your book, and might have loved the

man, —
" ' The peasant, who, brain-patent writes down duke.
" ' Pardon ! none take their wisdom from a clown.

" ' One word — I sail to-morrow, — shall be killed,

" ' Or shall ascend the mountains of the moon.

" ' Don't laugh, but sneer, if you must live with us ;

" ' You cannot tickle us, but you can sting.

" ' A cynic is a poet turned to gall.

" ' Men fear the lynx, who only tease the cat.

" ' Rap all, and cudgel some one every night.

trumpets anD Sbawms 31

" ' Hate-fear contains one element — respect !

'' ' The man bruised yesterday, joins you to-day,

" ' Expectant of his neighbor soundly drubbed.

" ' If you must be boy-bishop for the nonce,

" ' Must rule an hour (yourself, and not your book),

" ' Then take my civil, devilish advice.'

" O, good advice ! plain, devilish advice !

" To bid the captain at his moorings cut

" His cable into skipping-ropes and knouts.

^' Behold ! the spirit-power to see men's souls

" With a fiend-power is twined to mock at them.

" Mocking became the business of my life.

" I conquered. From the first I brought to jeer

'* The absolute devotion poets use.

** I made this potent master, satire's slave,

" Besides, I chose my ground, I drew them on

" From the great world to greater world of books.

*' At length, O, hapless hour ! I loved. I loved

" With my brain's heart. I'd loved Madge with

heart's brain.
" My love had, doubtless, first of hope and fear,
'* Long hours of pain, briefs of deliciousness.
" I think it had this universal train ;
" For all love has. Mine — take some woman-toy
*' Of fragrant leather, silk-lapped, mechlin-edged,
" And throw it on the fire : in puff of flame

32 ^Trumpets anD Sbawms

" Go silk and lace, and in your grasp remains

" A nauseous, useless, curved, and shameful thing.

'' My shame ! Let not this trope point blame at her.

" To blame would be my sinker down to hell ;

'' Yet her sweet graciousness was mine, was mine.

" The lily is not compromised, because

" She benisons the beggar at the gate.

" Nay, not a beggar. I was something more.

" I brought some element which lilies use.

" I searched her eyes, rejoiced because I found

" Much pity and a little wistfulness.

*' I read the text aright, its meaning, wrong.

'' Her pity was not for herself, but me.

' ' She longed as Madge, when Madge unlaced my shoe.

" At length I spake, poured love with fervid voice,

" While fancy, guide-like, ran ahead of speech,

" Turning to fair conclusions, hasty words.

" I told her much ; no doubt I kept back part.

" I told her of my birth, small means, and Madge.

^' She answered me at once (in voice and mien),

' ' Her sweet and even gentleness meant, ' nay '

" Long before courtesy allowed the word.

<' Then I began to plead — a blockhead plan !

" Honey is gall, when dropped by those unloved,

" While love's blunt sayings are Chrysostom's way;

" And ' why ?' I urged, with fluent folly, ' why ' ?

" She paused a little, and her face grew pale,

trumpets an& Sbawms 33

" And then she put her little hand in mine,

" The soft, firm hand, the little, tingling hand, —

" ' Because I'll wound you, let my hand touch yours.

" ' I think with pleasure of your early days,

" ' There's nothing mean in the rough leaves which guard

" 'The plant-head, till it bloom in fitting time,

" ' And you are — never since Saul drove the plow,

" ' Do I believe, there walked a comelier man.

" 'I'd seen, before I saw the island-prince,

" ' His precious casket, full of island-pearls,

" ' Rare shells and coral, strangely-scented woods.

" 'And when I saw you — nay, I will be brave, —

" ' The floods of life swelled up above their banks,

" 'And for a moment almost channelled forth,

" ' To water pleasant lands called by your name.

" ' O, do not speak ! the water has returned,

' ' ' To keep one course forever to the sea.

" ' Your arid life choked back my swelling stream.

" ' I might have loved the peasant, so I think ;

" ' I could not love the scoffer. Friend, return.

" ' Go to your isle, where all God's first intentions

" ' Look nature in the eyes, be simple, true, and live.
" 'Yours is the ferment of the noble wine.
" 'Some poet said that faith is hope grown wise.
" ' And charity is truth, but truth in flower.
' ' ' Let me believe that my young love which died,
" 'Indeed, saw nobleness delayed, not lost.'

34 tTrumpets anD Sbawms

" She lives unwed ; but nobleness was lost.

' ' Whether my gift was but a local tint,

" A child that died, torn from its island breast,

" I know not ; but that early fancy lost

" Had no successors with imperial crowns.

" Lord Hugh is dead; I live his pensioner.

' ' Daily I sit and gaze, upon the waves,

" And dream myself, ' One by the sea, a boy.'

tTrumpcts anO Sbawms 35


/^•■^HE inner life obeyed first gave life's bent :
L \ Down in the fissures of the earth I went,
^^^ And gathered pebbles in the early morn,
Hard-angled stones, but glints in them were born ;
'Neath white crustacean slumbered rainbow tints,
Which had a joy surpassing moon-charged flints.
Then from the upland's edge smooth voices cried,
" Climb up, no longer in the gloom abide !"
" Hither, strong sovereign," softer voices chimed,

" The shining shadows race to-day " 1 climbed.

Upward I climbed the common, well-worn track,
The heavy wallet jolting at my back.
I saw the upland with a sudden thrill,
And half my burden scurried down the hill.
And now there dawned upon my wondering sight
Globules and legion points of colored light.
Mine was the bliss we sometimes have in dream ;
I had a fresh delight in each new gleam.
Again I climbed, the level earth I knew.
Delight had fled, the sun had dried the dew.

Some grief was mine, but e'er emotion died,

" See ! see ! the shining shadows race," they cried.

As sudden as the flash which cows the eye,

Now here, now there, the shadows hurry by ;

36 XLxwmpcts an£) Sbawms

A voice came near me as I paused, afraid,

"The games begin, be bold, my fellow-shade."

Truth, shaped by beauty, tenanted the plain,

It strained my being to its highest strain,

" Who stones the essence?" rang out voices sweet,

" His guerdon be the clover at his feet,

" Whose taste brings visions where all shapes assume

" Phantoms of beauty fringed by phantom bloom."

I heard the crash of catapulted stones.

And pride became the marrow of my bones.

Against that shape, of all divineness born,

I hurled the latest pebbles of the morn.

Awful its brow. I hurled the iinal stone,

Down sank the sun, and I was left alone !

Alpha, the angel, now discerned by me.
Required the treasures of the morn. Quoth he :
' ' Where is the adamant ? What have you done ?' '
" I saw the dew-drops cease before the sun."
"Youth gathers treasure; where is now thy gain?"
" I saw the shadows chase across the plain."
" Thyself a shade." " The precious jewels shed
" May yet be gathered?" So, at length, I said :
" My soul made earnestness." He cried, " Too late
" Another gathers them ; for him I wait !"

trumpets anO Sbawms 37



HALL I ask pity, when mine own I scorn ?
For he who sings must sigh. Let it be mine
To bear the burden of all woes, to mourn
With lightning-smitten elm and blasted kine,
With brook's frustration, robin's ruined home ;
For in this dread and ominous debate
I drive the panting furrows through the loam,
Glad to do service for my rich estate.
Shall I revolt, then, 'gainst my diadem
And let the burden, honor, questioned be.
Knowing that grief distilleth many a gem.
The jewels of mine immortality ?
Not mine the miracles of Moses' rod ;
Yet I interpret too 'twixt man and God.

38 XTrumpete anO Sbawms



LOVED yet scourged him, cutting words

And phrases are my staples :
Less brightly shines the sun ; he's dead,

This beggar tramp of Naples.
He was a poet ! Keep the word,

A Poet in his dreaming ;
But dreams not once compressed to thought,

Nor shaped to form and seeming ;
A pack of things incongruous,

Of colors blending never ;
For though he did not write a line

He planned designs forever ;
Trenched on one gift like marble steps

Of palace not erected,
No wonder that he bade men list

To him as he elected.
The lyre of old Herodotus

He played, strange figments teaching.
And one day having conned a text.

Announced he'd done much preaching.
One grain of solid fact he mixed

With nineteen grains of fancy.
Ornate in manner with Miss Blanche,

Ornate to red-cheeked Nancy.

Crumpets anD Sbawms 39

Some laughed at him as he went by.

Some jeered ; none cared to shove him.
I know I always saw his faults.

Until I ceased to love him.
His day ! Rose-trees a future have ;

No future has a fossil.
His nights ! Ne'er chanced, but if they had,

What nights of wit and wassail !
Our little knot in Marti's haunt,

Collected round a table.
He, clad in cambric, superfine.

And English cleric sable,
With Thackeray's and Bulwer's Ghosts,

One right, one left hand, sitting
Attentive to his lightest word.

The viands spiced and fitting,
Then on the wainscot let appear,

In its concise completeness.
His unwrit essay, " Lamb," — " Montaigne,"

Unique in wit and sweetness.
And his brief poem, crisp and bright,

So full of youth and gladness.
That as he chants it, line by line,

'Tis perfect up to sadness.
With wreath of myrtle dipped in wine.

As prince of " might be " crown him.
Let him repeat one earnest prayer.

Then with rose-water drown him ;

4° trumpets and Sbawms

Write on his tomb this epitaph,

" Here sleeps nor sage nor lover,
" The King of possibilities

" Lies 'neath this verdant cover."
Ah, well-a-day, all rainbows fade ;

Truth lean and uncompassioned
Has puffed away the gilded clouds

Which " might have been " had fashioned.
And I must write what really happed ;

His pleasant art of dyeing
He lost, his hand would fumble with

His master-key of lying.
My laughing pen is dripping tears,

For something seems to come, tug
At my heart's strings, the growing old

Of this poor pompous humbug.
The garb he wore of thought and things

Was always shining shoddy.
Now hung in rags, and useless rags.

Rent by the puffed-up body.
His very face deserted him.

His gloom threadbared his funning,
And fancy's thin mask crumbled up.

And in its place came cunning.
I wonder whether in those nights

Complexioned with forever.
When false lights fade, and truth stands bare

Without the wig called clever ;

trumpets anD Sbawms 41

I wonder whether faces came,

A sweetheart or a mother,
Or — Oh, not that — his pinchbeck self

And spirit faced eacli other.

42 ^Trumpets anO Sbawms



HEN every one essayed to know,

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Online LibraryHenry Hanby HayTrumpets and shawms → online text (page 2 of 9)