Mary Bayard Clarke.

Poems, by Mrs. Mary Bayard Clarke, with a sketch of her life online

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They were hid 'mid the sweets of the Jessamine's
And seemed on the Bachelor's Button to hang.

They looked like the rapidly changing shade

Of the Rainbow's light in a summer shower,
Or the mingling hues by the sunset made.

For each was the tint of its favorite flower.
As butterflies oft in the heat of the day,

Upon the cool bank of some rivulet sport,
I marked to the ring they all fluttered away,

Where high in the midst the Queen held her

For hours I watched them, as round an old oak
They danced to the sound of that heart-stirring
Till growing too noisy, old Darkness awoke,

And chid them all back to their flowers again.
In anger the Giant arose from his rest,

And from him his mantle of moonlight he cast.
Then frowned on the Moon till she sank in the
For she knew that her hour of triumph was

Ah, yes, it was ended, and Darkness again
Spread over the earth his broad wings for a

Till the goddess of Morn, as she rose o'er the


44 The Fairies' Dance.

Dispelled all his gloom by the light of her
She dried up the tears of the Fairies that fell

In drops of fresh dew on the flowers around,
And I said in my heart as I bade them farewell,
I'm glad that I know where the Fairies are

Shadows. 45


There are moments of sadness in life,

When silently over me fall
Forebodings of sorrow and strife —

Dim shadows far-reaching and tall.

Are they warnings of trouble before.
Thus vaguely and faintly defined,

Or hauntings of that which is o'er.
Yet leaveth its shadow behind?

Why hath not the feeling a name?

In tear-drops it seeketh relief,
But, oh, it is never the same
As sadness that cometh with grief.

It is not that darkness abiding.
When the spirit in battle must cope

With sorrow, whose banner is hiding
The star-light that shineth from hope;

When the heart its own bitterness knows,
But keepeth it secret from all.

Though the torrent of feeding o'erfldws.
And tears of hot anguish will fall.

46 Shadows.

Does it come like a bugle-note citing
The spirit to arm for a fight —
The gray clasp of twilight uniting

Joy's sunshine with sorrow's dark night?

Or is it a solemn-toned chant,

And not the vague warnings of griefs
The dew that's distilled on the plant —

Not the frost that discolors the leaf?

I know not, but fain would believe,

The feeling betokens no ill,
But comes the full heart to relieve,

And bid the flushed spirit be still.

And when on my pathway it falls

The warning shall not be in vain.
But the voice of an angel that calls
My soul to its duties again.

The Rain upon the Hills. 47


An inspiration from the infinite depths of a moth-
er's heart, tender in its conception, chastely simple in
its expression. No one can read it without emotion,
or rest satisfied to read it only once.

Though 'tis raining on the hills, love,

'Tis raining on the hills,
Not the shadow of a cloud, love,

The smiling valley fills.
See how the sunlight falls, love,
As though it loved to rest

Upon that youthful mother, love,

Her first-born on her breast.

She cares not for the world, love.

Its pleasures or its wealth.
She thinks but of her child, love.

His happiness and health.
Life's sorrows are to her, love,

But rain upon the hills,
While the sunlight of that babe, love.

Her happy bosom fills.

48 The Rain upon the Hills.

But see, the cloud rolls on, love,
'Tis deep'ning all the while :
And the sunlight from the vale, love,
Is fading hke a smile;
Is fading hke a smile, love,
That's followed by despair.
When the idols of the heart, love.
Are vanishing in air.

The frightened mother starts, love.

And clasps her baby now :
For she seeth that a shade, love.

Is gath'ring o'er his brow.
She is weeping o'er her child, love,

'Tis raining in the vale —
Life struggleth now with death, love,

God grant he may prevail.

The cloud has passed away, love,

The sun is shining bright ;
And that mother's trembling heart, love,

Rejoiceth in the light —
But the mem'ry of that storm, love.

Her bosom ever fills,
And she feareth for the vale, love.

When 'tis raining on the hills.

Nuptial Hymn of the Greeks. 49


This translation from Lamartine, although written
earlier, appeared during the year 1866 in a collection
of poems by Mrs. Clarke, entitled, "Mosses from a
Rolling Stone ; or, Idle Moments of a Busy Woman."

Exquisite delicacy of sentiment was never robed
in lines of sweeter rhythmic flow. Its words linger in
the heart like the close of melody of which we ask, as
Illyria's Duke,

"That strain again."

Scatter, scatter narcissus and roses
Over the couch where beauty reposes !

Wherefore weep'st thou, dark-eyed daughter?

'Tis no day for tears and gloom,
Like a lily o'er the water.

Bending with its sweet perfume,
Hangs thy head as o'er thee flushes
Love's bright glow in rosy blushes.

Scatter, scatter narcissus and roses
Over the couch where beauty reposes.
'Tis thy lover thou dost hear,

Take the ring that seals his flame,
Wear it without doubt or fear.
Trembling but with maiden shame.

50 Nuptial Hymn of the Greeks.

If thy love burns in his soul,

There 't will glow while this is whole.

Scatter, scatter narcissus and roses
Over the couch where beauty reposes.
In thy hand the torch is burning

Sacred unto nuptial bliss,
Let thy heart so fondly yearning,
Feed a flame as pure as this;
Shedding e'er its sweet perfume
O'er life's pathway to the tomb.

Scatter, scatter narcissus and roses
Over the couch where beauty reposes.
Crowned kids around are playing

By young maidens brought to thee.
Like them, in the meadow straying
Soon thy children thou shah see.
New-born joys that crown the life
Of the mother and the wife.

Scatter, scatter narcissus and roses
Over the couch where beauty reposes.
In the valley wreath the myrtle

That shall shade thy infant's head.
Learn the cooing of the turtle
As thou mak'st his little bed;
In the summer's golden prime
Ready make for harvest time.

Scatter, scatter narcissus and roses
Over the couch where beauty reposes.

Nuptial Hymn of the Greeks. 51

Canst thou murmur like the water

As it ripples o'er the stones?
Woman is but nature's daughter —
Let her learn her mother's tones.
Practice now the notes that best
Lull the infant to its rest.

52 Aphrodite.


Aphrodite ! The tale is old, but it is here given to
us fresh and fair as a rose freighted with the dew of
the morning.

'Twas in the Spring-time of the world,
The sun's red banners were unfurled,
And slanting rays of golden light
Just kissed the billows tipped with white,
And through the water's limpid blue
Flashed down to where the sea-weed grew;
While rainbow hues of every shade
Across the restless surface played.
Then, as the rays grew stronger still,
They sought the sea-girt caves to fill,
And sparkled on the treasures rare,
That all unknown were hidden there.
Roused by their warm electric kiss
The ocean thrilled with wak'ning bliss.
Its gasping sob and heaving breast
The power of in-born life confest.
But, though their waves were tossed ashore.
Upon their crests no life they bore.

Deep hidden in its darkest cave.
Unmoved by current, wind or wave,
A purple shell of changing shade,
By nature's careful hand was laid;

Aphrodite. 53

The clinging sea-weed, green and brown,
With fibrous grasp still held it down
Despite the water's restless flow ;
But when they caught that deep'ning glow
They flushed with crimson, pink and gold,
And from the shell unclasped their hold.
Its shadowy bonds thus drawn aside,
It upward floated on the tide;
But still its valves refused to yield,
And still its treasure was concealed.

Close shut upon the waves it lay

Till warmly kissed by one bright ray,

When lo ! its pearly tips unclose,

As ope the petals of the rose ;

And pure and fresh as morning dew

Fair Aphrodite arose to view.

First — like a startled child amazed —

On earth, and air, and sea she gazed,

Then shook the wavy locks of gold

That o'er her neck and bosom rolled,

Loosened the cestus on her breast,

'Gainst which her throbbing heart now prest;

For ah ! its clasp could not restrain

The new-born life that thrilled each vein.

Flushed to her rosy fingers' tips,

And deeply dyed her parted lips.

Spread o'er her cheek its crimson glow

And tinged her heaving bosom's snow.

Conscious of beauty and its power

She owns the influence of the hour.

Instinct with life attempts to rise.

Her quick-drawn breath melts into sighs,

54 Aphrodite.

Her half-closed eyes in moisture swim,
And languid droops each rounded limb;
With yielding grace her lovely head
Sinks back upon its pearly bed,
Where changing shades of pink attest
The spot her glowing cheeks hath prest.
There all entranced she silent lay,
Borne on 'mid showers of silvery spray,
Which caught the light and backward fell
In sparkling diamonds round her shell.
Thus wafted by the western breeze,
Cythera's flowery isle she sees ;
Its spicy odors round her float.
And thither glides her purple boat;
And, when its prow had touched the land,
There stepped upon the golden sand
With life, and love, and beauty warm,
A perfect woman's matchless form.

The tale is old, yet always new
To every heart which proves it true;
The limpid waters of the soul
In snow-crowned waves of feeling roll.
Until love's soft pervading light
Has unto color kissed the white
And in its deep recesses shown
Rich treasures to itself unknown,
Through many restless sob and sigh
Nor ever learn the reason why;
Whilst others wake with sudden start
To feel the glow pervade their heart,
Flash down beneath its surface swell
And shine on Passion's purple shell.

Aphrodite. 55;

Change to the rainbow's varying hue
The ties it may not rend in two;
Till doubts and fears which held it fast
Beneath love's glow relax their grasp;
Slowly the network fades away
Like fleecy clouds at opening day,
And Passion woke by warmth and light
In deep'ning shades springs into sight.

But man the shell too often holds,
Nor sees the beauty it enfolds;
Its close shut valves refuse to part
And show the depths of woman's heart.
And tossing on life's billows high
The purple shell unoped may lie,
Till cast on Death's cold, rocky shore,
Its life and longing both are o'er.
But if Love's warm entrancing light
Shall kiss the parting lips aright,
And wake to life the beauty rare
Which Nature's self hath hidden there,
Beneath his soft enraptured smile
'Tis wafted to the flowery isle,
An Aphrodite steps ashore
A perfect woman — nothing more.
San Antonio, January i, 1861.

^6 Annie Carter Lee.


"Died, at Jones' Springs, Warren County, N. _^C.,
October 20, 1862, Annie Carter Lee, daughter of Gen.
Robert E. Lee, C. S. A."

"Earth to earth, and dust to dust,"
Saviour, in thy word we trust,
Sow we now our precious grain.
Thou shalt raise it up again.
Plant we the terrestrial root
Which shall bear celestial fruit,
Lay a bud within the tomb
That a flower in Heaven may bloom.
Severed are no tender ties.
Though in Death's embrace she lies,
For the lengthened chain of love
Stretches to her home above.
Mother, in thy bitter grief
Let this thought bring sweet relief—
(Mother of an angel now,)
God Himself hath crowned thy brow
With the thorns the Saviour wore;
Blessed art thou evermore!
Unto Him thou dost resign
A portion of the life was thine.
"Earth to earth, and dust to dust,"
Sore the trial, sweet the trust.

Annie Carter Lee. 57

Father — thou who seest Death
Reaping grain at every breath,
As his sickle sharp he wields
O'er our bloody battlefields —
Murmur not that now he weaves
This sweet flower into his sheaves.
Taken in her early prime,
Gathered in the summer time,
Autumn's blast she shall not know,
Never shrink from winter's snow.
Sharp the pang which thou must feel.
Sharper than the foeman's steel;
For thy fairest flower is hid
Underneath the coffin's lid.
O'er her grave thou drop'st no tear,
Warrior stern must thou appear,
Crushing back the tide of grief
Which in vain demands relief.
Louder still thy country cries,
At thy feet it bleeding lies,
And before the patriot now
Husband — Father — both must bow.
But unnumbered are thy friends.
And from many a home ascends
Earnest, heartfelt prayers for thee,
"That as thy days thy strength may be."

58 The Water-Sprite's Bridal


Pride might justly swell the heart of the poet who
could make a foray into the fair demesne of the Imagi-
nation and return laden with spoils such as these!

The Rio San Antonio is one of the most beautiful
streams in Texas. It bursts from a basin of white lime-
stone, twenty feet deep and nine or ten in circumfer-
ence, the irregular sides of which are covered to the
bottom with water-cresses in every stage of vegetation,
from the vivid green of the half-open leaf to the crim-
son and yellow of the passing one ; so the Spring,
when the sun shines into it, seems lined with a tapestry
of jewels woven on a ground-work of silver. Near
it may generally be found in bloom a small white lily,
as fragrant as the tube-rose, which springs up after
every shower, and, in a single night, will cover the
prairie as the stars the heavens. Its pure white chal-
ice is a fit emblem of the perfect love shadowed forth
in the followmg allegory :

On the borders of a river

In our sunny southern land,
Long ago a fairy princess

Dwelt with her attendant band.
Hidden from all mortal vision

Was each tiny elfin shape,
Seeming now a darting sunbeam

'Mid the olive and the grape:

The Water-Sprite's Bridal. 59

Now a sparkle on the river

As it gurgling ghdes along,
Whilst its ever murmuring ripple

Was the echo of their song.
Sporting in its limpid coolness

If they splashed the water high.
It was but the cascade foaming

When it met a mortal's eye;
If in fairy frolic leaped they

From the river in their play,
Instantly they seemed bright rainbows

Woven in the dashing spray.
If they lurked 'mid leafy shadows

Quivering sumbeams sparkled there,
If they danced upon the meadow

Dewy fragrance filled the air.
Lights and sounds of nature were they

Unto mortal eye and ear,
But the Water-Sprite might see them

In their fairy forms appear.
Hid behind the cascade's curtain,

Lurking in the golden sand,
Peeping from some mossy crevice,

Oft he watched the fairy band.
Carelessly they bathed and sported,

All unconscious they were seen.
Feeding thus his glowing passion

For their loved and lovely queen.
Eagerly he watched her daily

As she laid her robes aside,
And with her attendant maidens.

Plunged into the cooling tide.

Co The Water-Sprite's BrIdaL

There each day she longer lingered

Whilst his passion stronger grew.
Till he almost was a mortal

In the suff'ring that he knew.
Now with rainbow hopes elated,

Then in deep and black despair
Trembling with his sweet emotion,

Swayed by trifles light as air.
Luring her with wiles most loving

To the shady river side,
Rushing, when he saw her coming,

'Neath the lily leaves to hide.

But one day the fairy came not,

In the meadow did not stray,
Though he listened, watched and waited

Through a long, long summer's day.
Bursting then each fear that bound him

All his passion uncontrolled
Wildly leaping in his bosom,

Through his veins like lava rolled.
Eagerly he sought his treasure

All along the river side,
Burning now to tell the feeling

Heretofore he sought to hide.
In a wooded dell he found her

Weeping 'neath a linden tree,
Not a thought of self came o'er him

As he slowly bent his knee.
"Who hath wounded thee, my darling?'

Were the words that from him burst-
Not his passion, but her sorrow —

Stirred his gen'rous spirit first.

The Water-Sprite's Bridal. 6i

Starting from him in amazement,

Up the Httle beauty sprang,
And the pride of all her lineage

In her startled accents rang:
"Wherefore do you dare to seek me

When I fain would be alone?"
But he saw surprise was struggling

With the anger of her tone.
Lifted were the gates of silence,

Love, like wine, now made him bold,
Wondering at his former shyness

All his passion then he told.
Anger vanished as she listened,

Trembling with a new-born bliss.
Timidly she nestled to him

And returned his glowing kiss.
In a warm, bright stream, electric

To her lip his passion thrilled,
And with rosy hues advancing

All her wakened spirit filled.
Like a lily-bud unfolding,

In the flowery month of May,
To his love her soul expanded

As upon his heart she lay.
Love — the pure ethereal passion —

Wells from nature's throbbing heart,
And, though mortals quaff it deepest,

Spirits also claim a part.
With its joy they taste its sorrow,

So the Wood-Nymph and the Sprite
Found that nature's bright elixir

Was not all unmixed delight.

62 The Water-Sprite's Bridal.

Waking from his blissful reverie

In her ear he whispers low,
"Wilt thou wed with me, my darling?"

And she sighing answers, "No;
Knowst thou not that woodland fairies

Only wed among themselves?
We are flowers, and, like them, wither

If we mate with other elves.
Should I yield me to thy wooing

I'd no longer be a fay.
Wedded to a Water-Spirit

All my power would fade away/'
**But," he pleaded, "in my kingdom

Thou wilt share the power that's mine,
For the moment that I clasp thee

Half my nature melts in thine;
Queen of both the land and water

Shall my little princess reign,
Neither land nor Water-Spirit,

But a mingling of the twain."

Thus he wooed — and wooing won her;

Doubts and fears were laid aside.
And she passed into the river

As the Water-Spirit's bride.
To his bosom fondly clinging

Downward from the light of day,
Downward from the sun and flowers.

Sank the half unconscious fay;
Down to where earth's deepest fountains

Bubbled from their sands of gold,
And her subterranean rivers

From their hidden sources rolled.

The Water-Sprite's Bridal. 63

Cold and dark to her those caverns.

Which to him were warm and bright,
And but half a Water-Spirit

Soon she trembled with affright.
Tenderly he soothed and cheered her,

Drew her closer to his side,
As her lingering fairy nature

Vainly she essayed to hide.
But he felt it quivering in her —

Saw his bliss to her was pain,
And so true and pure his passion

That he bore her back again.
Then, the long imprisoned river
Following as he upward went,
With a mighty leap exultant

Through its rocky arches rent —
Rent them as love rends the fetters

Prudence doth 'gainst passion urge,
When the glowing waves of feeling

In a mortal's bosom surge.
Darkly through its hidden caverns

Still the river might have rushed,
But the rock by love was smitten

And its waters outward gushed.
Onward, upward, bubbling, gurgling

In a silver stream they rise,
Till in sunlight 'mid the flowers

Once again the fairy lies.
Welling from a rocky basin.

Shaded by o'erhanging vines, -
Peaceful as a sleeping infant

Now its placid water shines.

64 The Water-Sprite's Bridal.

Thus — the fairy legend telleth —

Yonder lovely river first
As a spirit's bridal chamber

From its hidden sources burst;
Not for it the small beginning,

''Winning tribute as it flows"—
But at once, in perfect being,

Aphrodite-like it rose.
Sacred unto Sprite and Fairy

Still its lovely birth-place seems,
And the sparkle of their presence

On its rippling water gleams.
Rainbow tints are o'er it glinting,

Silver rocks around it shine,
Whilst, like tapestry, the cresses

All its inward chambers line.
Every hue that autumn flingeth

O'er the leaves that wave in air,
Mingled with the green of summer

Have the Spirits woven there ;
Shining through the limpid water

Every perfect leaflet bright
Sparkles like a brilliant jewel,

With an opalescent light.
Woodland flowers of every color

Round its rocky sides are hung,
Whilst o'er all a misty vapor

Like a silver veil is flung.
Snowy lilies round it glisten,

Shedding fragrance on the air.
Emblems of the tricksy spirits

Who are ever hovering there.
'Almanitas, I have named them,

For its meaneth "little fairy,"

The Water-Sprite's Bridal. 65

And like Sprites they come and vanish

From the bosom of the prairie;
Springing after every shower

In all seasons of the year,
Fresh and pure as crystal dew-drops

Do their starry blooms appear.
Neither land nor water lilies

But a mingling of the twain,
Seeming from the clouds descending

In the falling drops of rain.
Like a shining silver ribbon

Waving in a gentle breeze.
Onward glides the lovely river

Under overhanging trees,
Sleeping now in darkest shadow

Still and deep its water flows.
Flashing like ten thousand diamonds,

Laughing, leaping on it goes —
But a magic spell is o'er it.

Haunting all its winding way
With the mem'ry of that wooing

And the Spirit's Bridal Day.

_ During the war between the States as already men-
tioned, Mrs. Clarke wrote many patriotic poems, ex-
pressive of the thoughts and feelings which permeated
Southern homes, and which served to maintain the
devotion and enthusiasm of the Confederate soldier
in the field ; but when the war was at an end, she for-
got all, save its blessed memories and that she had
tried to do her duty; and it was creditable to her head
and heart, that in the volume of "Mosses from a Roll-
ing Stone," published in the year 1866, in which she
collected many poems, scattered through various mag-
azines and newspapers, she did not republish a single
line reflecting on the conduct of our mighty adversary
as a mass, or individually, but preserved the silence
that gives dignity to misfortune.

It may be pardonable, however, to except from this
class of her writings, the two following poems, as they
will amuse without awakening resentment."

Stonewall's Resignation. 6%


A Yankee soliloquy before the first battle of Fred-

Well! we can whip them now, I guess,

If Stonewall has resigned;
General Lee in "Fighting Burnside/'

More than his match will find.
We've done with slow McClellan,

Who kept us digging dirt,
And now are ''on to Richmond,"

Where "some one will be hurt."
Again around the rebels

The anaconda coils.
And east and west and north and south

We have them in our toils.
We'd have beat them at Manassas

If McDowell had not sHpt,
When he tried to leap this Stonewall

Who don't know when he's whipt.
We'd have laid them in the Valley

So low they could not rise,
But Banks must run against it

And spill all his supplies.

68 Stonewall's Resignation.

But if that fool, Jeff Davis,

Has let Stonewall resign,
We can go on to Richmond

By the Rappahannock Hne.
But they say he's a shrewd fellow.

Who knows a soldier well,
He stood by Sydney Johnston

Until in death he fell ;
"If Johnston is no General,

Then, gentlemen, I've none,"
He said to those who grumbled

When Donelson we won ;
And I don't believe that Jackson's

Resignation he'll accept —
Hello! — a rebel picket —

How close the rascal crept!
"Say! Johnny, is it true

That Jackson has resinged?"
"Well! — Yes — I reckon so —

Heard some'n of the kind."
"What for? Did old Jeff. Davis

Put a 'sub' above his head?"
"No, they took away his commissary—

So I've heard it said."
"Well! we are glad to hear it,

And will tender them our thanks.
But who was Jackson's commissary?'*

"Your Major General Banks."
"Confound your rebel impudence!

He'd be very smart, indeed.
If from supplies for one intended

Two armies he could feed."

The Rebel Sock. 69


A true episode in Seward's raid on the old ladies
of Maryland.

In all the pomp and pride of war

The Lincolnite was drest,
High beat his patriotic heart

Beneath his armor'd vest.
His maiden sword hung by his side.

His pistols both were right,
The shining spurs were on his heels.

His coat was buttoned tight.
A firm resolve sat on his brow,

For he to danger went;
By Seward's self that day he was

On secret service sent.
"Mount and away," he sternly cried.

Unto the gallant band,
Who, all equipped from head to heel.

Awaited his command;
"But halt, my boys — before you go,

These solemn words I'll say,
Lincoln expects that every man

His duty '11 do to-day."

70 The Rebel Sock.

"We will, we will," the soldiers cried,

"The President shall see,
That we will only run away

From Jackson or from Lee."
And now they're off, just four-score men,

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