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GIFT OF








Photo, Saundera, Buffalo, 1905



DONEGAL MEMORIES AND
OTHER POEMS

BY

JAMES NICOLL JOHNSTON




"Those recollected hours that have the charm
Of visionary things, those lovely forms
And sweet sensations that throw back our lite.
And almost make remotest Infancy
A visible scene, on which the sun Is shining."



PRIVATELY PRINTED

THE MATTHEWS-NORTHRUP WORKS

BUFFALO, NEW YORK

MCMX



GLEN IRIS PICTURES BY PERMISSION
Or HONORABLE WILLIAM PRYOR

LETCHWORTH, LL. D. UNLESS OTHER-
WISE ACKNOWLEDGED, THE OTHER
PICTURES ARE FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
BY JOHN A. BLACK, M. A. (THE KNIGHT
OF BLARNEY), BUFFALO, NEW YORK



Copyright, 1910, by James Nicoll Johnston



IN LOVING MEMORY
THESE POEMS ARE INSCRIBED

TO MY MOTHER
JEAN NICOLL JOHNSTON



249136



CONTENTS

PAGE

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, n

THE GUARD ON THE RHINE, 12, 13

AN ARTISTIC ALCHEMIST, 13

IN VAIN, O MAN, CONTENDING, 14

THANKSGIVING HYMN, 15

CHRISTMAS, 16

NEW YEAR'S DAY, 1909, 1 7> i 8

A FRIEND'S ADVICE, 1 9

GERRIT SMITH, 20

SAINT AUGUSTINE, 21

LARS GUSTAVE SELLSTEDT, 22

HELTON M. MODISETTE, 25

IMPROMPTUS, 26
TO ANY ONE INTENDING TO PUBLISH A BOOK, 26
INSCRIPTION ON THE FLY LEAF OF MRS. J. D.

L.'S POETS AND POETRY OF BUFFALO, 26

TO MRS. C. B. S., 27

TO MRS. J. J. A., 27

ON RECEIVING A LETTER-BALANCE FROM MR.

AND MRS. F. M. H., 27

HALCYON, 28

TO J. V. W. ANNAN, 29

MATERIAL PROSPERITY, 29

AT THE GRAVE OF MARY E. LORD, 30, 31

ROBERT KEATING, 32, 33

EICHE-RUHE, 34

TO A VOYAGER BOUND FOR THE ORIENT, 35, 36

TO RABBI FALK AND MRS. FALK ON THEIR

SILVER WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, 37

A GOOD MAN'S BIRTHDAY, 38

GLEN IRIS POEMS, 39-65

GLEN IRIS, 41, 42

A MEMORY, 45, 46
THERE'S A BEAUTIFUL SPOT BY THE WILD

GENESEE, 49, 50

REST, 53, 54

THE HAPPY VALLEY, 57, 58

A PICTURE, 61

TO M. F., 62

TO GLEN IRIS, 65

DONEGAL MEMORIES, 67-114

LONGINGS, 71

MEMORIES, 72, 73

EXTRACT FROM AN ADDRESS, 74



of rhythmic expression that was born in him, and it gave us
the " Donegal Memories," which have sung their simple sweet
feeling into the hearts of many more than their Irish readers.
If I care a little more for the elder verse of the eighteen-six-
ties-and-seventies, it is because of the habit of a long affection,
no doubt, and not many will assent to such a preference.
The poems of the two periods are interesting in their differences,
as well as delightful in themselves, and they gain by being
bound together.

Another Buffalo poet once put his feeling toward and his
thought of the writer of this book into the following sonnet:

"TO AN OLD FRIEND"

A kindred taste in books the better kind,
A love for humor of an honest vein,
A turn for talk, for verses, and a strain
Of Scottish blood ; last but not least to mind
A joy in vain debate ; all these combined
Have made us young together spite the score
Of years you rank me, and the little more
Of gray above a brow no deeper lined.

But to keep young together how solve this ?
Who reads the riddle never need grow old ;
To leave the heart unlocked, that naught in vain,
So it be worthy yes, though it be pain
Shall seek the door ; old friend, I cannot miss
The simple answer, by your own life told !

I am permitted to borrow from Robert Cameron Rogers
this fine tribute "To an Old Friend," which gives adequate
expression to what I would put into words of my own if I
could.

J. N. LARKED



ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Lying in State in Buffalo, April 27, 1865.

Bear him to his Western home,

Whence he came four years ago ;
Not beneath some Eastern dome,
But where Freedom's airs may come,
Where the prairie grasses grow,
To the friends who loved him so.

Take him to his quiet rest ;

Toll the bell and fire the gun ;
He who served his country best,
He whom millions loved and bless'd,

Now has fame immortal won ;

Rack of brain and heart is done.

Shed thy tears, O, April rain !
O'er the tomb wherein he sleeps !

Wash away the bloody stain !

Drape the skies in grief, O, rain !
Lo ! a nation with thee weeps,
Grieving o'er her martyred slain.

To the people whence he came,
Bear him gently back again.

Greater his than victor's fame,

His is now a sainted name ;
Never ruler had such gain
Never people had such pain.



Mr. James Nicoll Johnston's poem on Lincoln, printed above, was published at the
head of the editorial columns of the Buffalo Express, April 27, 1865, anonymously.
It was afterwards republished, anonymously, in " Poetical Tributes to the Memory of
Abraham Lincoln, J. B. Lippincott & Co." The author's identity was established by
its appearance in Mr. Johnston's " Poets and Poetry of Buffalo."



THE GUARD ON THE RHINE

Translated from the German, June, 1870.

There swells a cry as thunder-crash,
As clash of swords and breakers dash
On to the Rhine, to the German Rhine!
Who will protect the river line ?
Dear Fatherland, let peace be thine ;
Brave hearts and true defend the Rhine !

To millions swiftly came the cry,
And lightnings flashed from every eye ;
Our youth so good and brave will stand
And guard thee Holy Border Land!
Dear Fatherland, let peace be thine,
Brave hearts and true defend the Rhine !

And though my heart should beat no more,

No foreign foe shall hold thy shore,

Rich as in water is thy flood,

Is Germany in hero blood.

Dear Fatherland, let peace be thine ;

Brave hearts and true defend the Rhine !

Up looked he to the heaven's blue,
Where hero-dead our actions view ;
He swore and proudly sought the strife
"The Rhine is German as my life."
Dear Fatherland, let peace be thine ;
Brave hearts and true defend the Rhine !



While yet one drop of blood throbs warm,
To wield the sword remains one arm,
To hold the rifle yet one hand,
No foeman steps upon thy strand.
Loved Fatherland, let peace be thine ;
Brave hearts and true defend the Rhine !

The oath resounds, the billows run ;
Our colors flutter in the sun ;
On to the Rhine, to the German Rhine !
We will protect thee, river mine !
Dear Fatherland, let peace be thine ;
Brave hearts and true defend the Rhine !



AN ARTISTIC ALCHEMIST

Inscription to M. R. T., in her copy of Donegal Memories.

The emblem of Erin so vaunted

Was just the design that she wanted;

So with one of her gifts manifold,
And being all the time a book-lover,

She changed the green shamrocks to gold;
You can see them outside on the cover.




IN VAIN, O MAN, CONTENDING

From the German

In vain, O man, contending,

Thou mak'st but care and pain ;
A life repose intending

Thou never canst attain.
Overtakes the king and peasant

Alike, death's fearful smart ;
Be silent for the present,

And patient, O my heart !

Not ever bloom the roses,

A storm and they must fall ;
Yet mother-earth discloses

A grave prepared for all.
The day that has no morrow

When that last day appears,
Then ended is all sorrow

And wept are all our tears.

From woes no man can number

We're borne at last to rest ;
Close-to, in endless slumber,

Are weary eyelids pressed ;
Death's arrow is unfailing

To quiet every smart ;
A few more days of ailing,

Be patient, O my heart !



THANKSGIVING HYMN

Beneficent Father,

Before Thee to-day,
Together we gather,

Our homage to pay,
For bounties that flowed,

The goodness, the cheer
All Thy hands have bestowed

Through the outgoing year.

The fields we have cultured,

Thy sunshine and rain
Have nourished and nurtured

To ripeness again.
No blight has us saddened,

No dark angel's wing
Our hearts have been gladdened

By what Thou didst bring.

For our flocks still increasing,

Our harvest's rich store,
Thy kindness unceasing

To us evermore,
Our land blessed of heaven,

With rest from the sword,
For all Thou hast given,

We thank Thee, O Lord.



CHRISTMAS

Snow, wrap the earth in robes of white ;

Ye stars heaven's vault adorning,
Shed o'er the world a brighter light

On this dear Christmas morning.
Ye lofty bells, your anthems play

From every towering steeple ;
Glad tidings of great joy this day,

Have come to all the people.

From eastern lands of old renown,

By western prairies swelling,
In many an overcrowded town,

In lone and scattered dwelling,
Goes up the glad triumphant strain

To him who ruleth o'er us,
Men giving back a loud refrain

Unto the angels' chorus.

To thee, dear Bethlehem, to-day,

Our willing hearts are turning,
Yet by the manger still we stay,

While faith and love are burning.
That manger is a sacred shrine

Where pulse and heart beat faster ;
Its babe is now our King divine,

Redeemer, Lord, and Master.



NEW YEAR'S DAY, 1909

The sad Old Year has passed away,
And the glad New Year is here to-day,

Come with the lessons we soon must learn,
Come with the truths we would fain discern :

A mission for all, deeds to be wrought ;
Duties that cannot be sold or bought.

The time has gone for mere speech and pen,
The Nation's great need is for earnest men.

We turn, Old Year, our questioning thought,
And read the teachings thy changes brought :

Some hearts have drunk from a living spring,
And life with them was a gladsome thing ;

And some have felt the keen pangs that rise
As they looked in vain for loving eyes.

Through endless strivings of hope and fear,
We watched thy passage, thou sad Old Year !

Counting thy days we turn with pride
To scan the page of thy sunny side ;

Through the early mists we felt our ways
Into the light of thy later days ;

Harvests gathered of untold wealth,
Sweet summer breezes, bringing us health ;

Commerce speeding her deep-laden fleets,
The hum of traffic in all our streets ;

[ 17 ]



And better still that the Nation's thought
Is true to the teachings the fathers taught ;

And the treasured flame of Freedom's fire,
Burns now in the son as once in the sire.

O, glad New Year! we longingly look
Into thy dim, mysterious book.

Our hopes are strong as with eager eyes
We would read the Nation's destinies ;

For promised gifts each watcher stands
And holds to thee his outstretched hands.

Bring us the truth, unheeding the cost,
Though all the baubles of life be lost,

The faith and patience that counts no price
As worthy of liberty's sacrifice.

O, year of years, in every land

Earth's mourning, hapless sufferers stand,

Looking afar with straining eyes
To hail the bow in the western skies.

We labor and pray and still endure,
God's time seems slow, but the end is sure.

Break off, O, Year ! all fetters that bind,
Spread the knowledge that lifts mankind,

Bring us the tidings we long to hear,
And be all thy days a glad New Year.



A FRIEND'S ADVICE

Poor foolish one, who vainly sits,

Still hatching eggs of sorrow,
Who sees the fancies of to-day

Become great facts to-morrow,
Why grieve ye for the changing heart ?

Or mourn for friendship's crosses ?
The man who acts the wiser part,

Will laugh still at his losses.

Have boon companions from you gone ?

You're freer from temptation ;
Has lady-love to rival flown ?

A blessed dispensation.
More precious friends you yet shall find,

A damsel that is truer ;
Pleasure awaits the cheerful mind,

Success the faithful wooer.

Then throw aside your robes of grief,

And let your life be jolly;
To every wrinkle give a reef,

To fools give melancholy.
Thank Heaven for what it has bestowed ;

Cease, cease, this useless pining !
And take the independent road,

Where light is always shining.



GERRIT SMITH

Sonnet written for Mrs. Louise Willard Miller.

Few were the fighters when our hero came
And bravely led the hosts in freedom's van ;
A patriot he, who feared no tyrant's ban,

Fought a good fight against our country's shame,

Nor ever flinched for hostile hate or blame.

With lives like his "the noble men who can,"
We've read his story and we love the man ;

Seek the immortals and you'll find his name.

You of his line have other work to do ;

Though slavery's dead, freedom is far away,

The weak still suffer from the heartless strong ;
Now, while the way of duty you pursue,
Look ever upward and believing pray

For right triumphant and the end of wrong.



October 19, 1908.




20 ]



SAINT AUGUSTINE

I silently sit by the Spanish Fort,

And watch the ensign fall ;
The white-sailed boats are seeking the port,

Or lie by the low sea-wall.

And darkness spreads o'er the eastern sky,
Save the " flash-light" by the shore ;

I hear the Matanzas ebbing by,
And the ocean's distant roar.

Stilled is the beat of the sea-bird's wings,
And borne on the evening breeze

There comes the calm that the twilight brings
From gardens of tropical trees.

And odors of sweetness fill the air,
As the shadows fall on the deep ;

And lost are time, and space, and care,
And whether I wake or sleep.

For thoughts are mine, which no one tells,
Of what life has brought to me ;

They came from the old cathedral bells,
And are gone on an endless sea.




LARS GUSTAVE SELLSTEDT

On his Ninetieth Birthday.

At four score years most men retire,
Their after-days show oft decline ;
His mind still glows with olden fire,
And does good work at eighty-nine.
One thing there is his friends now want,
That Osier see him and recant.

To-day he's four score years and ten ;

His life and labors we all know ;
With story, brush, and vigorous pen
He's added fame to Buffalo.

One thing there is his friends all want,
That Osier see him and recant.

Of lives like his have poets sung

Whose aims to noble ideals tend ;

At ninety years we find him young,

All Buffalo proclaims him friend.

One thing there is these friends now want,
That Osier see him and recant.





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[ 22 ]




ALBRIGHT ART GALLERY



WELTON M. MODISETTE

No narrow creed his generous soul confined ;
He loved his Maker and the works He planned,
His country, and his duty's high command,
The themes the wise in ancient records find,
The joy-inspiring touch of mind with mind,
And all things beautiful on sea and land.
Teacher of truth he was, convincing, grand ;
Then God so willed it and our friend grew blind.

No weak complainings in his darkened hours ;
Dear memories lived, and friends to him were eyes ;
Love, music, converse, made all seasons bright ;
From songs of birds and fragrance of sweet flowers,
In thoughts that from deep introspection rise,
And communings with God: Lo, there was light!




IMPROMPTUS

To Hon. W. P. Letchworth, on seeing his Book on the Insane frequently quoted
and endorsed in a Hungarian book.

You have an appetite for facts,

Chapters and tables hard to frame ;
Now, in a Magyar Book of Acts,

The author glorifies your name.

Soon far from classic Genesee,

In Yeddo, Pekin, or Bombay,
When savants come to disagree,

They'll ask "And what does Letchworth say?"



TO ANY ONE INTENDING TO PUBLISH
A BOOK

Have you written a book and wish to print it ;

See there's money on hand and do not stint it ;
Seek M-N Works with good men to overlook,

And then you'll be sure of a perfect book.
Their part is what arts and crafts can do

Is the book a success ? That depends on you.

INSCRIPTION ON THE FLY LEAF OF MRS. J. D. L.'S
POETS AND POETRY OF BUFFALO.

Our subjects are familiar things,

Fancies and thoughts that come and go ;

Each modest muse may stretch her wings,
But finds her rest in Buffalo.

We cultivate a fair estate,

No mighty gift of genius ours ;
Others may boast possessions great,

We have a garden of sweet flowers.



[ 26 ]



TO MRS. C. B. S.

With a copy of Samuel Lover's Anthology of Irish Verse.

A birthday and an uplift ;

How fast time rushes !
Pray, take this book, a gift
With heart-warm wishes.
Old songs of Erin lie beneath the cover,
By a Lover-Bard and for a music lover.

TO MRS. J. J. A.

With a small bill to buy a Christmas present for her little daughter.

I have a fancy

It would be pleasant

To send a present
To little Nancy.

And so to end it,

I ask her mother

To take the bother ;
Here's money, spend it.



Buy a full moon,

Or whatever you like ;

A Raphael, Van Dyke,
Or a silver spoon.



ON RECEIVING A LETTER-BALANCE FROM
MR. AND MRS. F. M. H.

Dear friends, your gift to me to-day

Will move me to live better ;
Before, my words I tried to weigh ;

Now, I will weigh each letter.

[ 27 ]



HALCYON

The home at Queenstown, Canada, of Mr. Richard K. Noye.

Great locust trees that screen from passers by ;

An orchard garden where the robins run ;

Green bowers of rest secluded from the sun ;
Two stately cedars grateful to the eye ;
Above, in glory outlined 'gainst the sky,

The monument a patriot-hero won

Beyond, wide landscapes fair as Avallon,
The mighty river, silent, flowing nigh.
How good to live and muse in such a spot ;

To watch great Nature in her various moods,

And meditate on life and summers gone,
Recalling loves pure, sacred, unforgot

Until the twilight rests upon the woods ;

Then, sup with friends and dream in Halcyon.

Queenstown. Canada. August 5. 1905.




To J. V. W. ANNAN

On his Ninety-fourth Birthday.

Honored friend, now ninety-four,

On this eventful day
What can we wish you more

Than the blessings you have had ;
What new words can we say ?

You've had friends, and faith and peace,
The grace to make hearts glad,

Home love in richest store,
Heaven waiting earth's release ;

What can we wish you more ?

MATERIAL PROSPERITY

Written for M. A.

Beyond the Atlantic's western shore,
Where tireless force forever drives
Till all the ideals of most lives

Are power and profit evermore ;

With knowledge vast, unknown before,
Science sees far and commerce thrives,
Powers combine; while fashion strives.

Are these what seers have dreamed of yore ?

We have the cure for many ills,
And train all nature to our aid ;
Small gain if we be unaware

Of visions seen on Eastern hills,

Warnings to make the heart afraid ;
And heavenly voices in the air.



[ 29]



AT THE GRAVE OF MARY E. LORD

Queen City of the western lake,

By Erie's pleasant waters,
You mourn for her whom death did take

The kindliest of your daughters.

A child of yours, she loved you well,
She shared your growth and glory ;

Her name shall in your annals dwell,
Her life will be your story.

The joys of nature were her own,

In country or in city ;
Of all God's creatures, she found none

Too low for love and pity.

Into her hospitable home

Came many a woodland stranger,

For there they fearlessly might roam,
Secure from foe and danger.

When hearts were cold and law was dead,

She saw the horse o'erloaded,
The wound unhealed, the kine unfed,

The beast to th' shambles goaded,

Her woman's soul, with holy zeal,
Passed not the wrong unheeded ;

She taught a city's heart to feel,
And conquered where she pleaded.



[ 30 ]



The true, the tender one is gone,
The faithful heart is sleeping ;

Home of our dead, dear Forest Lawn,
We leave her in your keeping.

O, women cruel, cold, and hard,
Lives given to senseless fashion,

Learn by the grave of Mary Lord
The Gospel of Compassion.




[ 31 ]



ROBERT KEATING

On his Seventy-fifth Birthday.

Let friends all rejoice

To-night, at this meeting ;
And proclaim with one voice

Our faith in R. Keating ;
He stands for fair play,

Religion and truth,
As zealous to-day

As in years of his youth.

He does not pitch ball ;

At golf a poor player ;
Never saw Donegal :

For new cults doesn't care ;
But as a mirth-raiser

He holds the front rank ;
And as an appraiser

Enquire at the bank.

The things he don't want

Are always too dear ;
Humbugs look askant

When Robert is near ;
For the friends he regards,

His friendship is stable,
And pilgrims and bards

Find a seat at his table.



[ 32 ]



He has won a good name

By actions that bless ;
The bauble of fame

Never caused him distress ;
A toast to his birthday,

We wish him good cheer ;
May Peace and Love stay

With him, many a year.




[ 33 ]



EICHE-RUHE

To my friend, J. U. W., Pasadena, Gal.

Glad summer days in the shade of the oak,

By the dearest of homes and friendships true ;
To-night from the past I old pictures evoke,
When thinking of you.

In those golden days when cherries were red,
And in bloom were flowers of many a hue ;
Their beauty brightened each garden bed,
When sitting by you.

Those peaceful hours I shared your hopes

Father and mother and darling boys ;
'Tis well then unread were the horoscopes
Now marring our joys.

You found a home by the calm sea coast,
In a sunshine land with prospects new ;
Thought followed you still the past a ghost
And away from you.

A house of peace beyond peaks of snow ;

Below, the arroyo. How grand. the view !
There sleep the loved of the long ago ;
And alone are you.

Here a garden of beauty we oft recall ;

There is one as fair you daily see ;
In the Garden of God transcending all
The meeting will be.



[ 34 ]



TO A VOYAGER BOUND FOR THE ORIENT

While the steamship is toiling and rolling,

As you skirt the African shore,
The thought that is most consoling

Is, when your long journey is o'er,
You are not on the wild waves bowling,

And will be thankful as never before,
That you hear the church bells tolling,

As you sit by your own back door.

'Twixt the garden grounds and the distance,

There, trees of rare beauty grow ;
They gladden your whole existence

In the seasons of sunshine or snow.
Let the lonely palm be forgotten,

And the weary sands you explore,
Let the garden and flowers be oft thought on,

That you see from your own back door.

O ! why did a restless yearning

Make you sail the salt seas o'er ;
Now, tired of the billows surging,

And of people who only bore,
Seek a calm that is full of blisses,

Seek a peace that is ever in store
One, that she who wanders misses,

And 'tis found at your own back door.



[ 35 ]



Come back to home and to neighbors,

To those who love you the best ;
They will hail you with harps and tabors,

When you return to the West.
And the flowers and the birds will greet you.

And the sunsets that you adore ;
Dear friends will joyfully meet you

As you sit by your own back door.




[ 36.]



TO RABBI FALK AND MRS. FALK ON THEIR
SILVER WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

The day that made two hearts unite,

Has had its annual round ;
And every year brings fresh delight,

Where love and faith are crowned

'Till now at length the march of life,
Through hopes, griefs, joys, and fears,

Have brought you, happy man and wife,
To five and twenty years.

Your children blossomed by your hearth,
And peace has blessed your home ;

While from the distant parts of earth
To you have friendships come.

The truths the good and wise have taught

Have unto you been dear ;
No promised land afar you sought

For you have found it here.

True hospitality of mind

Has opened every place ;
The brotherhood the generous find

Barred not by creed or race.

The kindly thought, the hand to reach
Where hopes and friends are few ;

The charity all gospels teach,
Has found a voice in you.



[ 37 ]



A GOOD MAN'S BIRTHDAY

J. D. L.

He works for others,

Happy task !
All men his brothers ;

Do not ask
His age to-day,
But only say
It matters not.
The good he sought,
Great things he wrought
Results that stay ;
Love lit his way
A blessed lot.

The love that shone
Will light him on ;
Small change for him
When eyes grow dim
And birthdays cease ;
An angel's call
Will softly fall,
Then joy and peace
Where love is all.




[ 38 ]



GLEN IRIS POEMS




VIEW FROM PROSPECT FARM




GLEN IRIS, the home of Hon. William
Pryor Letchworth, LL. D., is in Wyoming
County, New York, on the west bank of the
Genesee River and overlooking the Middle
Fall. Here, the owner, when not absent on
philanthropic work, has resided for over half
a century ; from time to time adding to his
property, improving and beautifying it, until
landscape art, added to nature's bounty, has
made it the delight of all lovers of natural
scenery.

Within the estate are the Upper, Middle, and
Lower Falls of the Genesee River, and several
fine cascades. The river bank and the heights
are covered with a rare variety of trees, shrubs,
plants, and flowers, and on the well-tilled farms
are orchards, wheat fields, meadows, and rich
pasture land.

The geologist, botanist, and ornithologist have
here rich fields in which to make their investi-
gations. Artists find pictures already made
for them to copy, and poets inspiration for
their verse. There is no other place in this
country, known to me, about which so many
poems have been written. These, finely illus-
trated, are printed in an artistic volume,


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Online LibraryJames Nichol JohnstonDonegal memories and other poems → online text (page 1 of 3)