Phoebe Cary Alice Cary.

The poetical works of Alice and Phoebe Cary online

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Besides, I am getting tired of it — I 've

sat here all day long.
Poor dear ! you work so hard for me,

and I 'm so useless, too !
A trouble to myself, and, worse, a

trouble now to you.


Gracie rises with a light

In her clear face like the sun,
Like the regal, crowned sun

That at morning meets her sight :
Mirthful, merry little one,
Happy, hopeful little one ;

What has made her day so bright ?

Who her sweet thoughts shall divine,
As she draweth water up,
Water from the well-spring up ?

What hath made the draught so fine,
That she drinketh of the cup,
Of the dewy, dripping cup.

As if tasting royal wine t

Tripping up and down the stair.
Hers are pleasant tasks to-day.
Hers are easy tasks to-day ;

Done without a thought of care.

Something makes her work but play,
All her work delightful play,

And the time a holiday.

And her lips make melody,

Like a silver-ringing rill.

Like a laughing, leaping rill :
Then she breaks off suddenly ;

But her heart seems singing still,

Beating out its music still.
Though it beateth silently.

And I wonder what she thinks ;
Only to herself she speaks.
Very low and soft she speaks.

As she plants the scarlet pinks,

Something plants them in her cheeks.
Set them blushing in her cheeks.

How I wonder what she thinks I

To a bruised vine she goes ;

Tenderly she does her part.

Carefully she does her part.
As if, while she bound the rose,

She were binding up a heart,

Binding up a broken heart.
Doth she think but of the rose ?

Bringing odorous leaf and flower
To her bird she comes elate.
Comes as one, with step elate,

Cometh in a happy hour
To a true and tender mate.
Doth she think of such a mate ?

Is she trimming cage and bower }

How she loves the flower she brings !
See her press her lips to this.
Press her rosy mouth to this.

In a kiss that clings and clings.
Hath the maiden learned that kiss,
Learned that lingering, loving kiss,

From such cold insensate things .''

What has changed our pretty one .>

A new light is in her eyes,

In her downcast, drooping eyes.
As she walks beneath the moon.

What has waked those piteous

Waked her touching, tender sighs ?
Has love found her out so soon ?

Even her mother wonderingly

Saith : " How strange our darling

How unlike herself she seems."

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And I answer : " Oft we see
Women living as in dreams.
When love comes into their dreams.

What if hers such dreaming be ?"

But she says, undoubtingly :
" Whatsoever else it mean.
This it surely cannot mean.

Gracie is a babe to me,
Just a child of scarce sixteen,
And it seems but yestere'en

That she sat upon my knee."

Ah wise mother ! if you proved
Lover never crossed her way,
I would think the self-same way.

Ever since the world has moved,
Babes seemed women in a day ;
And, alas ! and welladay 1

Men have wooed and maidens loved !


We always called her '* poor Margaret,"
And spoke about her in mournful
phrase ;
And so she comes to my memory yet
As she seemed to me in my childish

For in that which changing, waxeth old,
In things which perish, we saw her
But we never saw the wealth untold,
She kept where treasures alone en-

W^e saw her wrinkled, and pale, and
And bowed with toil, but we could
not see
That her patient spirit grew straight
In the power of its upright purity.

Over and over, every day,

Bleaching her linen in sun and rain.
We saw her turn it until it lay,

As white on the grass as the snow
had lain ;

But we could not see how her Father's

Shining over her spirit there.
Was whitening for her all the while

The spotless raiment his people wear.

She crimped and folded, smooth and
All our sister's clothes, when she
came to wed, —
(Alas ! that she only wore them twice,
Once when living, and once when

And we said, she can have no wedding-
Speaking sorrowfully, under oui
breath ;
While her thoughts were all where they

give away
br' '

No brides to lovers, and none to

Poor Margaret ! she sleeps now under
the sod,
And the ills of her mortal life are
. past;
But heir with her Saviour, and heir of
She is rich in her Father's House at


The Lady Marjory lay on her bed.
Though the clock had struck the
hour of noon,
And her cheek on the pillow burned as
As the bleeding heart of a rose in
June ;
Like the shimmer and gleam of a golden
Shone her yellow hair in the chamber
dim ;
And a fairer hand was never kissed
Than hers, with its fingers white and

She spake to her women, suddenly, —
" I have lain here long enough," she
said ;
" Lain here a year, by night and day,
And I hate the pillow, and hate the
So carry me where I used to sit,

I am not much for your arms to hold ;
Strange phantoms now through my
fancy flit,
And my head is hot and my feet are
cold ! "

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They sat her up once more in her
And Alice, behind her, grew pale
with dread
As she combed and combed her lady's
For the fever never left her head.
And before her, Rose on a humble
Sat, but her young face wore no
As she held in her lap her mistress'
And chafed them tenderly all the

" Once I saw," said the lady, " a saintly

Who turned from the world and its

pleasures vain ; —
When they clipped her tresses, one by

How it must have eased her aching

brain !
If it ached and burned as mine does

And they cooled it thus, it was worth

the price ; —
Good Alice, lay your hand on my brow.
For my head is fire and my feet are

ice ! "

So the patient Alice stood in her place

For hours behind her mistress' chair.
Bathing her fevered brow and face,

Parting and combing her golden hair :
And Rose, whose cheek belied her

Sitting before her, awed and still,
Kept at her hopeless task the same

Till she felt, through all her frame,
the chill.

" How my thoughts," the Lady Marjory
" Go slipping into the past once more ;
As the beads we are stringing slide

down a thread,
. When we drop the end along the

floor ;
Only a moment past, they slid

Thus into the old time, dim and
sweet ;
I was where the honeysuckles hid

My head and the daisies hid my feet.
I heard my Philij)'s step again,

I felt the thrill of his kiss on my

Ah ! my cheek was not so crimson
Nor my feet in the daisies cold as
now !

" Dizzily still my senses swim,

I am far away in a fairy land ;
To the night when first 1 danced with
And felt his look, as he touched my
band ;
Then my cheeks were bright with the
flush and glow
Of the joy that made the hours so
And my feet were rosy with warmth I
As time to the music they lightly beat

" 'T is strange how the things I remem-
ber, seem
Blended together, and nothing plain ;
A dream is like truth, and truth like a
With this terrible fever in my brain.
But of all the visions that ever I had,
There is one returns to plague jne
If it were not false it would drive me
Haunting me thus, like an evil ghost.

*• It came to me first a year ago,
Though I never have told a soul be-
But I dreamed, in the dead of the night,
you know.
That under the vines beside the door,
I watched for a step I did not hear.
Stayed for a kiss I did not feel ;
But I heard a something hiss in my
Words that I shudder still to reveal.
I made no sound, and I gave no start,
But I stood as the dead on the sea-
floor stand.
While the demon's words fell slow on
my heart
As burning drops from a torturer's

" ' Your Philip stays,' it said, * to-night.
Where dark eyes hold him with magic
spell ;
Eyes from the stars that caught their
Not from some pretty blue flower's

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With raven tresses he waits to play,
They have bound him fast as a bird
in a snare,
Did you think to hold him more than a
In the feeble mesh of your yellow
hair ?

" * Flowers or pearls in your tresses
As your fancy suits you, smile or
sigh ;
Or give your dainty hand to be kissed

By other lips, and he will not die :
Hide your eyes in the veil of a nun.
Weep till the rose in your cheek is
dim ;
Or turn to any beneath the sun,

Henceforth it is all the same to him ! '

** This was before I took my bed ; —
Do you think a dream could make me
Could put a fever in my head,

And touch my feet with an icy
■ chill ?
Yet I 've hardly been myself I know
At times since then, for before my
The wildest visions come and go.
Full of all wicked and cruel lies.

" Once the peal of marriage-bells, with-
Fell, or seemed to fall on my ear ;
And I thought you went, and softly
The window, so that I might not
hear ;
That you turned from my eager look
And sadly bent your eyes on the
As if you said, 't is his wedding-day,
And her heart will break if she hears
the sound.

*' And dreaming once, I dreamed I
And heard you whisper, close at
Men said, Sir Philip's heart was broke,
Since he gave himself for his wife's
broad land ;
That he smiled on none, but frowned
As he stalked through his halls, like a
ghost forlorn ;

And the nurse who had held him, a
baby, said.
He had better have died in the day
he was born ! "

So, till the low sun. fading, cast

Across her chamber his dying beams,
The Lady Marjory lived in the past,

Telling her women of all her dreams.
Then she changed; — "I am almost
well," she said,
** I feel so strangely free from pain ;
Oh, if onlv the fever would leave my
And if only my feet were warm again 1
And something whispers me, clear and
I shall soon be done with lying there,
So to-morrow, when I am better, you
You must come, good Alice, and
dress my hair.

" We will give Sir Philip a glad sur-
He will come, I know, at morn or
night ;
And I want the help of your hands and
To dress me daintily all in white ;
Bring i^nowy lilies for my hair ; —

And, Rose, when all the rest is done,
Take from my satin slippers the pair
That are softest and whitest, and put
them on.
But take me to bed now, where in the
You have placed me many a time and
I am so tired, I think at last
1 shall sleep, if the pillow is cool and

So the patient Alice took her head,
And the sweet Rose took her mis-
tress' feet,
And they laid her tenderly on the
And smoothed the pillow, and
smoothed the sheet.
Then she wearily closed her eyes, they
On this world, with all its sorrow and
sin ;
And her head and her heart at the
break of day,
Were as cold as ever her feet had

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So I 'm " crazy," in loving a man of

three-score ;
Why, I never had come to my senses

But I 'm doubtful of yours, if you 're

thinking to prove
My insanity, just by the fact of my love.

You would like to know what are his
wonderful wiles ?

Only delicate praises, and flattering
smiles !

*T is no spell of enchantment, no magi-
cal art,

But the way he says "darling," that
goes to my heart.

Yes, he 's " sixty," I cannot dispute

with you there.
But you 'd make him a hundred, I think,

if you dare ;
And I'm glad all his folly of first love

is past.
Since I 'm sure, of the two, it is best to

be last.

•* His hair is as white as the snow-drift,"

you say ;
Then 1 never shall see it change slowly

to gray ;
But I almost could wish, for his dear

sake alone.
That my tresses were nearer the hue of

his own.

" He can't see ; " then I 'II help him to
see and to hear.

If it 's needful, you know, I can sit very
near ;

And he 's young enough yet to inter-
pret the tone

Of a heart that is beating up close to
his own.

I *' must aid him ; " ah ! that is my pleas-
ure and pride,

I should love him for this if for nothing
beside ;

And though I 've more reasons than I
can recall,

Yet the one that " he needs me " is
strongest of all.

So, if I 'm insane, you will own, I am

That the case is so hopeless it 's past

any cure ;
And, besides, it is acting no very wise

To be treating the head for disease of

the heart.

And if anything could make a woman

That no dream can delude, and no fancy
deceive ;

That she never knew lover's enchant-
ment before,

It 's being the darling of one of three-
score I


Our generals sat in their tent one night,

On the Mississippi's banks.
Where Vicksburg sullenly still held out

Against the as>aulting ranks.

They could hear the firing as they
Long after set of sun ;
And the blended noise of a thousand
In the distance seemed as one.

All at once Sherman started to his feet,

And listened to the roar.
His practiced ear had caught a sound.

That he had not heard before.

" They have mounted another gun on
the walls ;

'T is new." he said, " I know ;
I can tell the voice of a gun, as a man

Can tell the voice of his foe I

" What ! not a soul of you hears but

No matter, I am right ;
Bring me my horse ! I must silence this

Before I sleep to-night ! "

He was gone ; and they listened to the

Of hoofs on the distant track ;
Then talked and wondered for a while, —

In an hour he was back.

" Well, General ! what is the news ? "
they cried.
As he entered flushed and worn ;

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" We have picked their gunners off, and
the gun
Will be dislodged at morn ! "


" Fai^e and fickle, or fair and sweet,

I care not for the rest,
The lover that knelt last night at my feet

Was the bravest and the best.
Let them perish all, for their power has

And their glory waxed dim ;
They were well enough while they lived
and reigned,

But never was one like him !
And never one from the past would I

Again, and call him mine ; —
77if King is dfad, long live the king ! "

Said the Lady Jaqueline.

"In the old, old days, when life was

And the world upon me smiled,
A pretty, dainty lover I had,

Whom I loved with the heart of a
When the buried sun of yesterday

Comes back from the shadows dim,
Then may his love return to me,

And the love I had for him !
But since to-day hath a better thing

To give, I '11 ne'er repine ; —
7^he King is dead^ lon^ live the King ! "

Said the Lady Jaqueline.

" And yet it almost makes me weep,

Aye ! weep, and cry, alas !
When I think of one who lies asleep

Down under the quiet grass.
For he loved me well, and I loved again,

And low in homage bent,
And prayed for his long and prosperous

In our realm of sweet content.
But not to the dead may the living cling,

Nor kneel at an empty shrine ; —
The King is deady long live the King! "

Said the Lady Jaqueline.

" Once, caught by the sheen of stars and

I bowed for a single day,
To a poor pretender, mean and base,

Unfit for place or sway.

That must have l>een the work of a spell,
For the foolish glamour fled,

As the sceptre from his weak hand fell,
And the crown from his feeble head ;

But homage true at last I bring
- To this rightful lord of mirfe, —

The King is dead, long live the King ! "
Said the Lady Jaqueline.

" By the hand of one I held most dear,

And called my liege, my own !
I was set aside in a single year,

And a new queen shares his throne.
To him who is false, and him who is wed,

Shall I give my fealty ?
Nay, the dead one is not half so dead

As the false one is to me !
My laith to the faithful now I bring,

The faithless I resign ; —
The King is dead, long live the King ! "

Said the Lady Jaqueline.

** Yea, all my lovers and kings that were

Are dead, and hid away.
In the past, as in a sepulchre.

Shut up till the judgment dav.
False or fickle, or weak or wea,

They are all alike to me ;
And mine eyes no more can be misled, —

They have looked on royalty !
Then oring me wine, and garlands bring

For my king of the right divine ; —
The King is dead^ lonj^ live the King I "

Said the Lady Jaqueline.


How can you speak to me so, Charlie !

It is n't kind, npr right ;
You would n't have talked a year ago,

As you have done to-night.

You are sorry to see me sit and cry,
Like a baby vexed, you say ;

When you did n't know I wanted a gift.
Nor think about the day !

But I 'm not like a baby, Charlie,

Crying for something fine ;
Only a loving woman pained,

Could shed such tears as mine.

For every Christmas time till now —

And that is why I grieve —
It was you that wanted to give, Charlie^

More than 1 to receive.

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And all I ever had from you

1 have carefully laid aside ;
From the first June rose you pulled for

To the veil I wore as a bride.

And I would n't have cared to-night,
How poor the gift or small ;
If you only had brought me something
to show
That you thought of me at all.

The merest trifle of any kind,
That I could keep or wear ;

A flimsy bit of lace for my neck.
Or a ribbon for my hair.

Some pretty story of lovers true.
Or a book of pleasant rhyme ;

A flower, or a holly branch, to mark
The blessed Christmas time.

But to be forgotten, Charlie,!

'T is that that brings the tear ;
And just to think, that I have n't been

Your wife but a single year !


'T is all right, as I knew it would be by

and by ;
We have kissed and made up again,

Archie and I ;
And that quarrel, or nonsense, whatever

you will,
I think makes us love more devotedly


The trouble was all upon my side, you

know ;
I 'm exacting sometimes, rather foolishly

so ;
And let any one tell me the veriest

About Archie, I 'm sure to get angry

and cry.

Things will go on between us again just

the same, —
For as Jie explains matters he was n't to

blame ;
But 't is useless to tell you ; I can't

make you see
How it was, quite as plainly as he has

made me.

You thought " I would make him come

round when we met ! "
You thought " there were slights I could

never forget ! "
Oh you did ! let me tell you, my dear,

to your face,
Tha't your thinking these things does n't

alter the case !

You " can tell what I said ! " I don't

wish you to tell :
You know what a temper I have, very

well ;
That I 'm sometimes unjust to my

friends who are best ;
^Mtyou *vg turned against Archie the

same as the rest !

" Why has n't he written } what kept

him so still ? " —
His silence was sorely against his own

He has faults, that I own j but he, he

would n't deceive ;
He was ill, or was busy, — was both, I

believe !

Did he flirt with that iady? I s'pose I

should say.
Why, yes, — when she threw herself

right in the way ;
He was led off, was foolish, but that is

the worst, —
And she was to blame for it all, from

the first.

And he 's so glad to come back again,

and to find
A woman once more with a heart and

a mind ;
For though others may please and

amuse for an hour,
I hold all his future — his life — in my

power !

And now, if things don't go persistently

Our destinies cannot be parted for
long ;

For he said he would give me his fort-
une and name, —

Not those words, but he told me what
meant just the same.

So what could I do, after all, at the

But just ask him to pardon my doubts

in the past ;

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For though he had been wrong, I should

still, all the same,
Rather take it myself than let him bear

the blame.

And, poor fellow ! he felt so bad, I
could not bear

To drive him by cruelty quite to de-
spair ;

And so, to confess the whole truth,
when I found

He was willing to do so himself, /came
round !


The grass lies fiat beneath the wind
That is loosed in its angry might,

Where a man is wandering, faint and
On the prairie, lost at night.

No soft, sweet light of moon or star,
No sound but the tempest's tramp ;

When suddenly he sees afar
The flame of a friendly lamp!

And hope revives his failing strength,
He struggles on, succeeds, —

He nears a humble roof at length,
And loud for its shelter pleads. '

And a voice replies, ** Whoever you be
That knock so loud at my door,

Come in, come in ! and bide with me
Till this dreadful storm is o'er.

"And no wilder, fiercer time in March
Have I seen since I was born ;

If a wolf for shelter sought my porch
To-night, he might lie till morn.''

As he enters, there meets the stranger's
One bowed by many a year. —
A won)an, alone by the hearth's bright
Tending her lamp anear.

*' Right glad will I come," he said, "for
the sweep
Of the wind is keen and strong ;
But tell me, good neighbor, why you
Your fire ablaze so long ?

" You dwell so far from the beaten way
It might burn for many a night ;

And only belated men, astray,
Would ever see the light."

" Aye, aye, 't is true as you have said.
But few this way have crossed ;

But why should not fires be lit and fed
For the sake of men who are lost }

"There are women enough to smile
when they come.
Enough to watch and pray
For those who never were lost from
And never were out of the way.

"And harrd it were if there were not
To love and welcome back
The poor misguided souls who have
Aside from the beaten track.

" And if a clear and steady light
In my home had always shone.

My own good boy had sat to-night
By the hearth, where I sit alone.

" But alas ! there was no faintest spark
The night when he should have
come ;
And what had he, when the pane was
To guide his footsteps home ?

" But since, each night that comes and
My beacon fires I burn ;
For no one knows but he lives, nor
The time when he may return ! "

"And a lonesome life you must have
Good neighbor, but tell me, pray.
How old when he went was /our little
And how long has he been away } "

" 'T is thirty years, by my reckoning,
Since he sat here last with me ;

And he was but twenty in the spring, —
He was only a boy, you see !

"And though never yet has my fire
been low,
Nor my lamp in the window dim.

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It seems not long to be waiting so.
Nor much to do for him !

** And if mine eyes may see the lad
But in death, 't is enough of joy ;

What mother on earth would not be
To wait for such a boy !

•* You think 't is long to watch at home,
Talking with fear and doubt !

But long is the time that a son may
Ere he tire his mother out !

** And if you had seen my good boy go,

As I saw him go from home,
With a promise to come at 'night, you
would know
'That, some good night, he would

• But suppose he perished where never
E'en the feet of the hunter bold.
His bones might bleach in the prairie
Unseen till the world is old ! *'

" Aye, he might have died : you answer
And truly, friend, he might ;
And this good old earth on which we
Might come to an end to-night I

** But I know that here in its place, in-
It will firm and fast remain ;
And I know that my son, alive or
Will return to me again !

** So your idle fancies have no power

To move me or appall ;
He is likelier now to come in an hour

Than never to come at all !

" And he shall find me watching yet.

Return whenever he may ;
My house has been in order set

For his coming many a day.

" You were rightly shamed if his young
feet crossed
That threshold stone to-night,

For your foolish words, that he might
be lost,
And his bones be hid from sight !

" And oh, if I heard his light step fall.
If I saw him at night or morn

Far off, I should know my son from all
The sons that ever were born.

" And, hark ! there is something strange
For. my dull old blood is stirred :
That was n't the feet of the storm with-
Nor the voice of the storm I heard !

'* It was but the wind ! nay, friend, be
Do you think that the night wind's
Through my very soul could send a
Like the blast of the angel, Death "i

** 'T is my boy ! he is coming home, he
is near
Or I could not hear him pass ;

Online LibraryPhoebe Cary Alice CaryThe poetical works of Alice and Phoebe Cary → online text (page 26 of 39)