Copyright
Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

Southern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry online

. (page 30 of 35)
Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 30 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The well-known summer path, and drear
The dusking hills, like billows rolled

Against the distant sky, appear.
From lonely haunts, where Night and Fear

Keep ghostly tryst, when mists are chill,
The dark pine lifts a jagged spear,

But beauty s soul abideth still.

ENVOY

Dear love, the days that once were dear

May come no more : life may fulfill
Her fleeting dreams with many a tear,

But beauty s soul abideth still.



FRANK LEBBY STANTON

[Frank Lebby Stan ton was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in
1857. He has served various newspapers, but seems finally to have
associated himself with the Atlanta Constitution. To this paper he
has for several years past contributed a column daily of verses and
short sketches. In this way his poems have become familiar to
newspaper readers and are widely popular.]



450 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

A PLANTATION DITTY

De gray owl sing f um de chimbly top :

" Who who is you-oo ? "
En I say : " Good Lawd, hit s des po me,
En I ain t quite ready fer de Jasper Sea ;
I m po en sinful, en you lowed I d be ;

Oh, wait, good Lawd, twell ter-morror."

De gray owl sing fum de cypress tree :

" Who who is you-oo ? "
En I say : " Good Lawd, if you look you 11 see

Hit ain t nobody but des po me,
En I like ter stay twell my time is free ;

Oh, wait, good Lawd, twell ter-morror."



THE GRAVEYARD RABBIT

In the white moonlight, where the willow waves,
He halfway gallops among the graves
A tiny ghost in the gloom and gleam,
Content to dwell where dead men dream.

But wary still !
For they plot him ill ;
For the graveyard rabbit hath a charm
(May God defend us!) to shield from harm.

Over the shimmering slab he goes
Every grave in the dark he knows ;
But his nest is hidden from human eye
Where headstones broken on old graves lie.



FRANK LEBBY STANTON 451

Wary still !

For they plot him ill ;

For the graveyard rabbit, though sceptics scoff,
Charmeth the witch and the wizard off !

The black man creeps, when the night is dim,
Fearful, still, on the track of him ;
Or fleetly follows the way he runs,
For he heals the hurts of conjured ones.

Wary still !

For they plot him ill ;

The soul s bewitched that would find release,
To the graveyard rabbit go for peace !

He holds their secret he brings a boon
Where winds moan wild in the dark of the moon ;
And gold shall glitter and love smile sweet
To whoever shall sever his furry feet !

Wary still !

For they plot him ill ;
For the graveyard rabbit hath a charm
(May God defend us !) to shield from harm.

ANSWERING TO ROLL CALL

This one fought with Jackson, and faced the fight with Lee ;
That one followed Sherman as he galloped to the sea ;
But they are marchin on together just as friendly as can be,
And they 11 answer to the roll call in the momin .

They 11 rally to the fight
In the stormy day and night,
In bonds that no cruel fate shall sever ;



452 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

While the stormwinds waft on high
Their ringing battle-cry :
" Our country, our country forever 1 "

The brave old flag above them is rippling down its red,
Each crimson stripe the emblem of the blood by heroes shed ;
It shall wave for them victorious or droop above them, dead,
For they 11 answer to the roll call in the mornin .

They 11 rally to the fight

In the stormy day and night,
In bonds that no cruel fate shall sever ;

While the stormwinds waft on high

Their ringing battle-cry :
" Our country, our country forever ! "



MADISON JULIUS CAWEIN

[Madison Julius Cawein was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in
1865. After graduating from the
high school of that city, he engaged
in business, but found time for the
writing of poetry and the study of
literature. His first volume of verse,
" Blooms of the Berry," published
in 1887, made but little impression
until, in 1888, Mr. W. D. Howells
praised it in the " Editor s Study "
of Harper s Magazine. This drew
attention to Cawein s work, and
gradually his circle of admirers was
enlarged. In all, Cawein published
some twenty columns of poems, the
best of which he collected toward
the close of his life in a volume
entitled "Selected Poems." He
died in Louisville in 1914.] MADISON JULIUS CAWEIN




MADISON JULIUS C AWE IN 453

THE WHIPPOORWILL

Above long woodland ways that led
To dells the stealthy twilights tread,
The west was hot geranium-red ;

And still, and still,
Along old lanes, the locusts sow
With clustered curls the Maytimes know,
Out of the crimson afterglow,
We heard the homeward cattle low,
And then the far-off, far-off woe

Of " whippoorwill ! " of " whippoorwill ! "

Beneath the idle beechen boughs
We heard the cowbells of the cows
Come slowly jangling toward the house,

And still, and still,
Beyond the light that would not die
Out of the scarlet-haunted sky,
Beyond the evening star s white eye
Of glittering chalcedony,
Drained out of dusk the plaintive cry

Of " whippoorwill ! " of " whippoorwill I "

What is there in the moon, that swims
A naked bosom o er the limbs,
That all the wood with magic dims ?

While still, while still,
Among the trees whose shadows grope
Mid ferns and flowers the dewdrops ope,
Lost in faint deeps of heliotrope
Above the clover-scented slope,
Retreats, despairing past all hope,

The whippoorwill, the whippoorwill.



454 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

EVENING ON THE FARM

From out the hills where twilight stands,
Above the shadowy pasture-lands,

With strained and strident cry,
Beneath pale skies that sunset bands,
The bull bats fly.

A cloud hangs over, strange of shape,
And, colored like the half-ripe grape,

Seems some uneven stain
On heaven s azure, thin as crape,
And blue as rain.



Byways, that sunset s sardonyx
O erflares, and gates the farm-boy clicks,

Through which the cattle came,
The mullein s stalks seem giant wicks
Of downy flame.

From woods no glimmer enters in,
Above the streams that, wandering, win

From out the violet hills,
Those haunters of the dusk begin,
The whippoorwills.

Adown the dark the firefly marks
Its flight in golden-emerald sparks ;
And, loosened from its chain,
The shaggy watchdog bounds and barks,
And barks again.



MADISON JULIUS CAWEIN 455

Each breeze brings scents of hill-heaped hay ;
And now an owlet, far away,

Cries twice or thrice, " T-o-o-w-h-o-o-" ;
And cool dim moths of mottled gray
Flit through the dew.

The silence sounds its frog-bassoon,
Where, on the woodland creek s lagoon,

Pale as a ghostly girl

Lost mid the trees, looks down the moon,
With face of pearl.

Within the shed where logs, late hewed,
Smell forest-sweet, and chips of wood
Make blurs of white and brown,
The brood-hen huddles her warm brood
Of teetering down.

The clattering guineas in the tree
Din for a time ; and quietly

The henhouse, near the fence,
Sleeps, save for some brief rivalry
Of cocks and hens.

A cowbell tinkles by the rails,

Where, streaming white in foaming pails,

Milk makes an uddery sound ;
While overhead the black bat trails
Around and round.

The night is still. The slow cows chew
A drowsy cucl. The bird that flew

And sang is in its nest.
It is the time of falling dew,

Of dreams and rest.



456 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

The brown bees sleep ; and round the walk,
The garden path, from stalk to stalk

The bungling beetle booms,
Where two soft shadows stand and talk
Among the blooms.

The stars are thick ; the light is dead
That dyed the west ; and Drowsyhead,

Tuning his cricket-pipe,
Nods, and some apple, round and red,
Drops overripe.

Now down the road, that shambles by,
A window, shining like an eye

Through climbing rose and gourd,
Shows where Toil sups and these things lie
His heart and hoard.

JOHN CHARLES McNEILL

[John Charles McNeill was born in Scotland County, North
Carolina, in 1874.- After graduating from Wake Forest College,
he practiced law in Lumberton, North Carolina, for some time.
Later he accepted a position on the staff of the Charlotte, North
Carolina, Observer, and devoted his entire time to writing until his
death, in 1907. Though he published only two small collections
of verse, yet these were sufficient to show that he was remarkably
gifted as a poet.]

1, AWAY DOWN HOME 1

T will not be long before they hear

The bull bat on the hill,
And in the valley through the dusk

The pastoral whippoorwill.

1 The selections from McNeill are published here through the permission of
the holder of copyright, The Stone-Barringer Publishing Co.



JOHN CHARLES McNEILL

A few more friendly suns will call
The bluets through the loam

And star the lanes with buttercups
Away down home.



457




r-r

JOHN CHARLES McNEILL

" Knee-deep ! " from reedy places

Will sing the river frogs.
The terrapins will sun themselves

On all the jutting logs.
The angler s cautious oar will leave

A trail of drifting foam
Along the shady current

Away down home.

The mocking bird will feel again

The glory of his wings,
And wanton through the balmy air

And sunshine while he sings,



458 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

With a new cadence in his call,
The glint-wing d crow will roam

From field to newly furrowed field
Away down home.

When dogwood blossoms mingle

With the maples modest red,
And sweet arbutus wakes at last

From out her winter s bed,
} T would not seem strange at all to meet

A dryad or a gnome,
Or Pan or Psyche in the woods

Away down home.

Then come with me, thou weary heart !

Forget thy brooding ills,
Since God has come to walk among

His valleys and his hills.
The mart will never miss thee,

Nor the scholar s dusty tome,
And the Mother waits to bless thee,

Away down home.

AN IDYL

Upon a gnarly, knotty limb

That fought the current s crest,

Where shocks of reeds peeped o er the brim,
Wild wasps had glued their nest.

And in a sprawling cypress grot,

Sheltered and safe from flood,
Dirt-daubers each had chosen a spot

To shape his house of mud.



JOHN CHARLES McNEILL 459

In a warm crevice of the bark

A basking scorpion clung,
With bright blue tail and red-rimmed eyes,

And yellow, twinkling tongue.

A lunging trout flashed in the sun,

To do some petty slaughter,
And set the spiders all a-run

On little stilts of water.

Toward noon upon the swamp there stole

A deep, cathedral hush,
Save where, from sun-splotched bough and bole,

Sweet thrush replied to thrush.

An angler came to cast his fly

Beneath a baffling tree.
I smiled, when I had caught his eye,

And he smiled back at me.

When stretched beside a shady elm

I watched the dozy heat.
Nature was moving in her realm,

For I could hear her feet.

BAREFOOTED

The girls all like to see the bluets in the lane

And the saucy Johnny Jump-ups in the meadow,
But we boys, we want to see the dogwood blooms again

Throwin a sort of summer-lookin shadow ;
For the very first mild mornin when the woods are white

(And we need n t even ask a soul about it)
We leave our shoes right where we pulled them off at night,

And, barefooted once again, we run and shout it :



460 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

You may take the country over
When the bluebird turns a rover,
And the wind is soft and hazy,
And you feel a little lazy,
And the hunters quit the possums
It s the time for dogwood blossoms.

We feel so light we wish there were more fences here ;

We d like to jump and jump them, all together !
No seeds for us, no guns, or even simmon beer,
No nothin but the blossoms and fair weather !
The meadow is a little sticky right at first,

But a few short days 11 wipe away that trouble.
To feel so good and gay, I would n t mind the worst
That could be done by any field o stubble.
O, all the trees are seemin sappy 1
O, all the folks are smilin happy !
And there s joy in every little bit of room ;
But the happiest of them all
At the Shanghai rooster s call
Are we barefoots when the dogwoods burst abloom !



SUNDOWN

Hills, wrapped in gray, standing alone in the west
Clouds, dimly lighted, gathering slowly ;

The star of peace at watch above the crest
Oh, holy, holy, holy 1

We know, O Lord, so little what is best ;

Wingless, we move so lowly ;
But in thy calm all-knowledge let us rest

Oh, holy, holy, holy 1



WALTER M ALONE 461

WALTER MALONE

[Walter Malone was born in De Soto County, Mississippi, in 1 866.
After graduating from the University of Mississippi, he began the
practice of law, in which he was very successful. In 1905 he was
appointed judge. His home was in Memphis, Tennessee, with the
exception of the years from 1897 to 1900. during which he was
engaged in literary pursuits in New York City. He published several
volumes of poetry, most of the earlier volumes being published in
1904 in a collective edition entitled " Poems." He died in Memphis
in 1915.]

OCTOBER IN TENNESSEE

Far, far away, beyond the hazy height,

The turquois skies are hung in dreamy sleep ;

Below, the fields of cotton, fleecy-white,
Are spreading like a mighty flock of sheep.

Now, like Aladdin of the days of old,

October robes the weeds in purple gowns ;

He sprinkles all the sterile fields with gold.
And all the rustic trees wear royal crowns.

The straggling fences all are interlaced

With pink and azure morning-glory blooms,

The starry asters glorify the waste,

While grasses stand on guard with pikes and plumes.

Yet still amid the splendor of decay

The chill winds call for blossoms that are dead,

The cricket chirps for sunshine passed away,
And lovely summer songsters that have fled.

And lonesome in a haunt of withered vines,
Amid the flutter of her withered leaves,

Pale Summer for her perished kingdom pines,
And all the glories of her golden sheaves.



462 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

In vain October wooes her to remain
Within the palace of his scarlet bowers,

Entreats her to forget her heartbreak pain,
And weep no more about her faded flowers.

At last November, like a conqueror, comes

To storm the golden city of his foe ;
We hear his rude winds, like the roll of drums,

Bringing their desolation and their woe.

The sunset, like a vast vermilion flood,
Splashes its giant glowing waves on high,

The forest flames with foliage red as blood,
A conflagration sweeping to the sky.

Then all the treasures of that brilliant state
Are gathered in a mighty funeral pyre ;

October, like a king resigned to fate,
Dies in his forests, with their sunset fire.



SURVIVALS OF OLD BRITISH BALLADS
BARBARA ALLEN

There was a young man who lived in our town,

His given name was William ;
He was taken sick, and very sick,

And death was in his dwelling.

It was the merry month of May,
When the green buds were swelling,

Sweet William on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barbara Allen.



SURVIVALS OF OLD BRITISH BALLADS 463

He sent his servant down in town ;

He went into her dwelling :
" My master s sick, and sent for you,

If your name be Barbara Allen."

And slowly, slowly did she rise,

And slowly she went to him,
And all she said when she got there,

" Young man, I think you are dying."

" Oh, yes, I m sick, I m very sick,

And death is with me, darling,
I 11 die, I 11 die, I 11 surely die,

If I don t get Barbara Allen."

" Oh, yes, you are sick, and very sick,

And death is in your dwelling ;
You 11 die, you 11 die, you 11 surely die,

For you will never get Barbara Allen.

" Remember on last Wednesday night

When we were at a wedding,
You passed your wine to the girls all around

And slighted Barbara Allen."

He turned his pale face to the wall,

He turned his back upon her :
" Adieu, adieu to the friends all around,

And adieu to Barbara Allen."

She had not got ten miles from town,
When she heard a swamp bird singing ;

And every time the swamp bird sung
Was woe to Barbara Allen.



464 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

She had not got three miles from town,
When she heard a death bell ringing,

And in her ear it seemed to say,
" Hard-hearted Barbara Allen."

She looked to the east, and she looked to the west,
And she saw his corpse a-coming ;

" I could have saved that young man s life
By giving him Barbara Allen ! "

" O mother, O mother, go make my bed,

Make it of tears and sorrow ;
Sweet William died for me to-day,

And I will die for him to-morrow.

" O father, O father, go dig my grave,

Dig it deep and narrow ;
Sweet William died for true love s sake,

And I shall die of sorrow."

Sweet William died on Saturday night,

And Barbara died on Sunday ;
Her mother died for the love of both

And was buried alone on Monday.

Sweet William was buried in the new churchyard,

And Barbara beside him :
And out of his grave sprang a lily-white rose,

And out of hers a briar.

LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ELEANOR

Lord Thomas, he was a bold forester,

And a chaser of the king s deer,
Fair Eleanor, she was a brave woman,

Lord Thomas, he loved her dear !



SURVIVALS OF OLD BRITISH BALLADS 465

" Now, riddle my riddle, dear Mother, he cried,

" And riddle it all into one :
For whether to marry the Fair Eleanor,

Or to bring you the Brown Girl home ? "

" The Brown Girl, she hath both houses and lands,

Fair Eleanor, she hath none :
Therefore I charge you, upon my blessing,

To bring me the Brown Girl home ! "

He clothed himself in gallant attire,

His merrymen all in green,
And every borough that he rode through,

They took him to be some king.

And when he reached Fair Eleanor s bower,

He knocked thereat, therein.
And who so ready as Fair Eleanor

To let Lord Thomas in ?

" What news ? What news, Lord Thomas ? " she cried,

" What news dost thou bring unto me ? "
" I come to bid thee to my wedding,

And that is sad news for thee ! "

" Now Heaven forbid, Lord Thomas," she cried,

" That any such thing should be done !
I thought to have been, myself, thy bride,

And thou to have been the bridegroom ! "

" Now, riddle my riddle, dear Mother," she cried,

" And riddle it all into one :
For whether to go to Lord Thomas s wedding,

Or whether I tarry at home ? "



466 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

" There be many that be thy friend, Daughter,

But a thousand be thy foe :
Therefore I charge thee, upon my blessing,

To Lord Thomas s wedding don t go ! "

" There be many that be my friend, Mother,

Though a thousand be my foe :
So, betide my life, betide my death,

To Lord Thomas s wedding I 11 go ! "

She decked herself in gallant attire,

Her tiremen all in green,
And every borough that she rode through,

They took her to be some queen.

And when she reached Lord Thomas s door,

She knocked thereat, therein,
And who so ready as Lord Thomas

To let Fair Eleanor in ?

" Be this your bride, Lord Thomas ? " she cried,
" Methinks she looks wondrous brown !

Thou mightest have had as fair a woman
As ever the sun shone on ! "

" Despise her not, Fair Ellen ! " he cried.

" Despise her not unto me !
For better I love thy little finger

Than all of her whole body ! "

The Brown Girl, she had a little penknife,

Which was both long and sharp,
And between the broad ribs and the short,

She pierced Fair Eleanor s heart !



SURVIVALS OF OLD BRITISH BALLADS 467

" O art thou blind, Lord Thomas ? " she cried,

" Or canst thou not plainly see
My own heart s blood run trickling down,

Run trickling down to my knee ? "

Lord Thomas, he had a sword at his side,

And as he walked up the hall,
He cut the bride s head from her shoulders,

And flung it against the wall !

He placed the hilt against the ground,

The point against his heart !
So never three lovers together did meet,

And sooner again did part !

They buried Fair Ellen beneath an oak tree,
Lord Thomas beneath the church spire,

And out of her bosom there grew a red rose,
And out of her lover s a briar !

They grew and grew, till they reached the church top,
They grew till they reached the church spire,

And there they entwined, in a true lover s knot,
For true lovers all to admire !

THE HANGMAN S TREE

" Hangman, hangman, howd yo hand,

O howd it wide and far !
For theer I see my father cooming

Riding through the air.

" Father, father, ha yo brought me goold ?

Ha yo paid my fee ?
Or ha yo coom to see me hung

Beneath the hangman s tree ? "



468 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

" I ha naw brought yo goold,

I ha naw paid yo fee, .
But I ha coom to see yo hung

Beneath the hangman s tree."

" Hangman, hangman, howd yo hand,

howd it wide and far 1

For theer I see my mother cooming
Riding through the air.

" Mother, mother, ha yo brought me goold ?

Ha yo paid my fee ?
Or ha yo coom to see me hung

Beneath the hangman s tree ? "

" I ha naw brought yo goold,

1 ha naw paid yo fee,

But I ha coom to see yo hung
Beneath the hangman s tree."

" Hangman, hangman, howd yo hand,

howd it wide and far !

For theer I see my sister cooming
Riding through the air.

" Sister, sister, ha yo brought me goold ?

Ha yo paid my fee ?
Or ha yo coom to see me hung

Beneath the hangman s tree ? "

" I ha naw brought yo goold,

1 ha naw paid yo fee,

But I ha coom to see yo hung
Beneath the hangman s tree."



SURVIVALS OF OLD BRITISH BALLADS 469

" Hangman, hangman, howd yo hand,

O howd it wide and far !
For theer I see my sweetheart cooming

Riding through the air.

" Sweetheart, sweetheart, ha yo brought me goold ?

Ha yo paid my fee ?
Or ha yo coom to see me hung

Beneath the hangman s tree ?"

" Oh, I ha brought yo goold,

And I ha paid yo fee,
And I ha coom to take yo froom

Beneath the hangman s tree."

THE WIFE OF USHER S WELL

There was a lady fair and gay,

And children she had three :
She sent them away to some northern land,

For to learn their grameree.

They had n t been gone but a very short time,

About three months to a day,
When sickness came unto that land

And swept those babies away.

There is a King in the heavens above

That wears a golden crown :
She prayed that He would send her babies home

To-night or in the morning soon.

It was about one Christmas time,

When the night was long and cool,
She dreamed of her three little lonely babes

Come running in their mother s room.



4/0 SOUTHERN LIFE IN SOUTHERN LITERATURE

The table was fixed and the cloth was spread,

And on it put bread and wine :
" Come sit you down, my three little babes,

And eat and drink of mine."



" We will neither eat your bread, dear mother,
Nor we 11 neither drink your wine ;

For to our Saviour we must return
To-night or in the morning soon."

The bed was fixed in the back room ;

On it was some clean white sheet,
And on the top was a golden cloth,

To make those little babies sleep.

" Wake up ! wake up ! " says the oldest one,

" Wake up ! its almost day.
And to our Saviour we must return

To-night or in the morning soon.

" Green grass grows at our head, dear mother,

Green moss grows at our feet ;
The tears that you shed for us three babes,

Won t wet our winding sheet."



GEORGE COLLINS

George Collins rode home one cold winter night,
George Collins rode home so fine,

George Collins rode home one cold winter night,
He taken sick and died.



SURVIVALS OF OLD BRITISH BALLADS 471

A fair young lady in her father s house

A-sewing her silk so fine
And when she heard that George was dead

She threw it down and cried.

" O daughter, don t weep ! O daughter, don t mourn !

There are more boys than one."
" O mother dear ! he has my heart,

And now he s dead and gone.

" The happiest hours I ever spent

Were when I was by his side ;
The saddest news I ever heard

Was when George Collins died."

She followed him up, she followed him down ;

She followed him to his grave,
And there she fell on her bended knees ;

She wept ; she mourned ; she prayed.

" Unscrew the coffin ; lay back the lid ;

Roll down the linen so fine ;
And let me kiss his cold pale lips,

For I know he will never kiss mine."



NOTES

INTRODUCTION

LITERATURE IN THE COLONIAL SOUTH

Although the limits placed upon this volume preclude selections
from the colonial writers of the South, yet some account of their work
is a necessary introduction to the later literature. From the earliest
days of the Virginia colony there was considerable activity in writing.
The first book written in Virginia, though published away, was Captain
John Smith s "A True Relation of Virginia," written in 1608. A later
book, written during his stay in Virginia, was entitled " A Map of Vir
ginia." Both of these books were descriptive of the country and the
Indians, and as the writer was a keen observer and a graphic narrator,



Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 30 of 35)