Phoebe Cary.

Poems of faith, hope, and love online

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Or wake me not at all!


I TOOK a little good seed in my hand,
And cast it tearfully upon the land ;
Saying, of this the fowls of heaven shall eat,
Or the sun scorch it with his burning heat.

Yet I, who sowed, oppressed by doubts and

Rejoicing gathered in the ripened ears ;
For when the harvest turned the fields to gold,
Mine yielded back to me a thousand-fold.

A little child begged humbly at my door ;
Small was the gift I gave her, being poor.
But let my heart go with it; therefore we
Were both made richer by that charity.

My soul with grief was darkened, I was bowed
Beneath the shadow of an awful cloud ;
Wlien one, whose sky was wholly overspread,
Came to me asking to be comforted.

It roused me from my weak and selfish fears ;
It dried my own to dry another's tears ;
The bow, to which I pointed in his skies,
Set all my cloud with sweetest promises.



Once, seeing the inevitable way

My feet must tread, through difficult places

I cannot go alone, I cried, dismayed, —
I faint, I fail, I perish, without aid!

Yet, when I looked to see if help were nigh,

A creature weaker, wretcheder than I,

One on whose head life's fiercest storms had

Clung to my garments, falling at my feet.

I saw, I paused no more ; my courage found,
I stooped and raised her gently from the

ground ;
Through every peril safe I passed at length.
For she who leaned upon me gave me strength.

Once, when I hid my wretched self from Him,
My Father's brightness seemed withdrawn and

dim ;
But when I lifted up mine eyes I learned
His face to those who seek is always turned.

A half-unwilling sacrifice I made ;

Ten thousand blessings on my head were

laid ;
I asked a comforting spirit to descend;
God made himself my comforter and friend.



I sought His mercy in a faltering prayer,
And lo! His infinite tenderness and care,
Like a great sea, that hath no ehbing tide,
Encompassed me with love on every side!


Land, of every land the best —
O Land, whose glory shall increase ;

Now in your whitest raiment drest
For the great festival of peace :

Take from your flag its fold of gloom.
And let it float undimmed above,

Till over all our vales shall bloom
The sacred colors that we love.

On mountain high, in valley low.
Set Freedom's living fires to burn ;

Until the midnight sky shall show
A redder pathway than the morn.

Welcome, with shouts of joy and pride.
Your veterans from the war-path's track ;

You gave your boys, untrained, untried ;
You bring them men and heroes back!

And shed no tear, though think you must
With sorrow of the martyred band ;

Not even for him whose hallowed dust
Has made our prairies holy land.

PEACE. 149

Though by the places where they fell,
The places that are sacred ground,

Death, like a sullen sentinel,
Paces his everlasting round.

Yet when they set their country free
And gave her traitors fitting doom,

They left their last great enemy,
Baffled, beside an empty tomb.

Not there, but risen, redeemed, they go

Where all the paths are sweet with flowers ;

They fought to give us peace, and lo !
They gained a better peace than ours.


Away in the dim and distant past

That little valley lies,
Where the clouds that dimmed life's morning

"Were tinged with hope's sweet dyes.

That peaceful spot from which I looked

To the future — unaware
That the heat and burden of the day

Were meant for me to bear.

Alas, alas! I have borne the heat,

To the burden learned to bow ;
^nr I stand on the top of the hill of life,

And I see the sunset now !

T stand on the top, but 1 look not back

To the way behind me spread ;
Not to the path my feet have trod.

Rut the path they still must tread.

And straight and plain before my gaze

The certain future lies ;
But my sun grows larger all the while

As he travels down the skies.


Yea, the sun of my hope grows large and
grand ;

For, with my childish years,
I have left the mist that dimmed my sight,

I have left my doubts and fears.

And I have gained in hope and trust.

Till the future looks so bright,
That, letting go of the hand of Faith,

I walk, at times, by sight.

For we only feel that faith is life.

And death is the fear of death,
When we suffer up to the solemn heights

Of a true and living faith.

When we do not say, the dead shall rise

At the resurrection's call ;
But when we trust in the Lord, and know

That we cannot die at all !


Nay, darling, darling, do not frown,

Nor call my words unkind ;
For my speech was but an idle jest,

As idle as the wind.

And now that I see your tender heart,
By my thoughtlessness is grieved,

I suffer both for the pain I gave.
And the pain that you received.

For if ever I have a thought of you,

That cold or cruel seems,
I have murdered my peace, and robbed my sleep

Of the joy of its happy dreams.

And when I have brought a cloud of grief

To your sweet face unaware,
Its shadow covers all my sky

With the blackness of despair.

And if in your pillow I have set

But one sharp thorn, alone.
That cruel, careless deed, transplants

A thousand to my own.



I grieve with your grief, I die in your frown.

In your joy alone I live ;
And the blow that it pained your heart to feel,

It would break my own to give !


O DOUBLY-BOWED and bruised reed,
What can I offer in thy need?

O heart, twice broken with its grief,
What words of mine can bring relief?

soul, o'erwhelmed with woe again.
How can I soothe thy bitter pain ?

Abashed and still, I stand and see
Thy sorrow's awful majesty.

Only dumb silence may convey
That which my lip can never say.

1 cannot comfort thee at all ;
On the Great Comforter I call ;

Praying that He may make thee see
How near He hath been drawn to thee.

For unto man the angel guest

Still comes through gates of suffering best;



And most our Heavenly Father cares

For whom lie smites, not whom He spares.

So, to His chastening meekly bow,
Thou art of His beloved now !


" Love thee ? " Thou canst not ask of me
So fittely as I fain would give-

'T is woman's great necessity

To love so long as she shall live ;

Therefore, if thou dost lovely prove,

I cannot choose but give thee love!

" Honor thee ? " By her reverence
The truest woman best is known ;

She needs must honor where she finds
A nature loftier than her own ;

I shall not turn from thee away,

Unless I find my idol clay !

" Obey ? " Doth not the stronger will
The weaker govern and restrain ?

Most sweet obedience woman yields
Where wisdom, power, manhood reign.

I '11 give thee, if thou canst control,

The meek submission of my soul !

Henceforward all my life shall be

Moulded and fashioned by thine own;



If wisdom, power, and constancy

In all thy words and deeds are shown ;
Whether my vow be yea or nay,
I '11 " love, and honor, and obey."


She was so good, we tlioiight before she died
To see new glory on her path descend ;

And could not tell, till she had gone inside,
Why there was darkness at her journey's end.

And then we saw that she had stood, of late,
So near the entrance to that holy place,

That, from the Eternal City's open gate,
The awful shadow fell across her face.


Watch her kindly, stars:
From the sweet protecting skies
Follow her with tender eyes,
Look so lovingly that she
Cannot choose but think of me :

Watch her kindly, stars !

Soothe her sweetly, night:
On her eyes, o'erwearied, press
The tired lids with light caress ;
Let that shadowy hand of thine
Ever in her dreams seem mine :

Soothe her sweetly, night!

Wake her gently, morn :
Let the notes of early birds
Seem like love's melodious words ;
Every pleasant sound, my dear,
When she stirs from sleep should hear

Wake her gently, morn !


IQss her softly, winds :
Softly, that she may not miss
Any sweet, accustomed bliss ;
On her lips, her eyes, her face,
Till I come to take your place,

Kiss and kiss her, winds !


Fair girl, the light of whose morning keeps

The flush of its dawning glow,
Do you ask why that faded woman weeps

Whose sun is sinking low?

You look to the future, on, above,

She only looks to the past ;
You are dreaming your first sweet dream of love,

And she has dreamed her last.

You watch for feet that are yet to tread
With yours, on a pleasant track ;

She hears but the echoes, dull and dread
Of feet that come not back.

You are passing up the flowery slope,

She left so long ago ;
Your rainbows shine through the drops of hope,

And hers through the drops of woe.

Your night in its visions glides away
And at morn you live them o'er ;

From her dreams by night and dreams by day
She has waked to dream no more.



You are reaching forth with spirit glad

To hopes that are still untried ;
She is burying the hopes she had,

That have slipped from her arms and died.

You think of the good, for you in store,
Which the future yet wil! send ;

Wliile she, she knows it were well for her
If she made a peaceful end !


Her cup of life with joy is full,

And her heart is thrilling so
That the beaker shakes in her trembling hand

Till its sweet drops overflow.

All day she walks as in a trance ;

And the thought she does not speak,
But tries to hide from the world away,

Burns out in her tell-tale cheek.

And often from her dreams of nioht

She wakes to consciousness.
As the golden thread of her slumber breaks

With the burden of its bliss.

She is almost troubled with the wealth

Of a joy so great and good,
That she may not keep it to herself,

Nor tell it if she would.

'Tis strange that this should come to one

Who, all her life before.
Content in her quiet household ways,

Has asked for nothing more.



And stranger, that he, in whom the power,

The wonderful magic lay,
That has changed her world to a paradise,

Was a man but yesterday I


When the way we should tread runs evenly on,
And light as of noonday is over it all,

'T is strange how our feet will turn aside
To paths where w^e needs must grope and

How we suffer, knowing it all the while,
Some phantom between ourselves and the

That shuts in disastrous, strange eclipse,
The very powers of sense and sight.

Yet we live so, all of us, I think,
Hiding whatever of truth we choose.

And deceiving ourselves with a subtilty
That never a soul but our own could use.

We see the love in another's eyes.

Where our own, reflected, is backward sent ;

Or we hear a tone, that is not in a tone.
And find a meaning that is not meant.

We put our faith in the help of those
Who never have been a help at all;

166 LIVING BY FAirn.

And lean on an object that all the while
"We know we are holding back from its fall !

When words seem thoughtless, or deeds un-

We are soothed with the kind intent instead ;
And we say of the absent, silent one :

He is faithful — but he is sick, or dead !

We have loved some dear familiar step,
That once in its fall was firm and clear ;

And that household music's sweetest sound
Came fainter every day to our ear ;

And then we have talked of the far-away —

Of the springs to come and the years to be,
When the rose should bloom in our dear one's
And her feet should tread in the meadows
free !

We have turned from death, to speak of life.
When we knew that earthly hope was past ;

Yet thinking that somehow, God would work
A miracle for us, to the last.

We have seen the bed of a cherished friend
Pushed daily nearer and nearer, till

It stood at the very edge of the grave.
And we looked across and beyond it, still.


Ay, more than this — we have come and gazed
Down where that dear one's mortal part

Was lowered forever away from our sight;
And we did not die of a broken heart.

Are we blind! nay, we know the world un-
Is all we would make the present seem;
That our Father keeps, till his own good time,
The things we dream of, and more than we

For we shall not sleep; but we shall be
changed ;

And when that change at the last is made,
We shall bring realities face to face

With our souls, and we shall not be afraid.


As violets, modest, tender eyed,

The light of their beauty love to hide

In deepest solitudes ;
Even thus, to dwell unseen, she chose,
My flower of womanhood, my rose,

My lady of the woods !

Full of the deepest, truest thought.
Doing the very things she ought,

Stooping to all good deeds :
Her eyes too pure to shrink from such,
And her hands too clean to fear the touch

Of the sinfulest in his needs.

There is no line of beauty or grace
That was not found in her pleasant face.

And no heart can ever stir,
With a sense of human wants and needs,
With promptings unto the holiest deeds,

But had their birth in her.

With never a taint of the world's untruth,
She lived from infancy to youth.
From youth to womanhood;

MY LADY. 169

Taking no soil in the ways she trod,
But pure as she came from the hand of God,
Before His face she stood.

My sweetest darling, my tenderest care !
The hardest thing that I have to bear

Is to know my work is past;
That nothing now I can say or do
Will bring any comfort or aid to you, —

I have said and done the last.

Yet I know I never was good enough,
That my tenderest efforts were all too rough

To help a soul so fine ;
So the lovingest angel among them all,
Whose touches fell, with the softest fall,

Has pushed my hand from thine!


I KNOW you are always by my side
And I know you love nie, Winifred dear,

For I never called on you since you died,
But you answered, tenderly, I am here !

So come from the misty shadows, where
You came last night, and the night before,

Put back the veil of your golden hair, jp

And let me look in your flice once more.

Ah ! it is you ; with that brow of truth,
Ever too pure for the least disguise ;

With the same dear smile on the loving mouth,
And the same sw^eet light in the tender eyes. .

You are my own, my darling still.

So do not vanish or turn aside,
Wait till my eyes have had their fill, —

Wait till my heart is pacified !

You have left the light of your higher place,
And ever thoughtful, and kind, and good,

You come with your old familiar fiice.
And not with the look of your angel-hood.


Still the touch of your hand is soft and light,
And your voice is gentle, and kind, and low,

And the very roses you wear to-night.
You wore in the summers long ago.

world, you may tell me I dream or rave,
So long as my darling comes to prove

That the feet of the spirit cross the grave,
And the loving live, and the living love !


All these hours she sits and counts.
As they pass her slow and sad,

Are the headsmen cutting off
Every flower of hope she had ;

And the feet that come and go
In the darkness past her door,

If they trod upon her heart,
Could not pain it any more.

Friends hastening now to friends,
Faster as the night grows late ;

Through all places men can go,
To all homes where women wait.

Some are pressing through the wood
Where the path is faint and new ;

Some strike out a shorter way,
Across meadows wet with dew.

Some, along the highway's track,
Music to their foosteps keep ;

Some are pushing into port.
From their exile on the deep.


But the hope she had at eve

From her wretched soul has fled;

For the lamp of love she lit

Has burned useless, and is dead.

So the feet that come and go,

In the darkness past her door,
If they trod upon her heart
* Could not pain it any more!


Our old brown homestead reared its walls

From the wayside dust aloof,
Where the apple-boughs could almost cast

Their fruit upon its roof;
And the cherry-tree so near it grew .

That when awake I 've lain
In the lonesome nights, I 've heard the limbS;

As they creaked against the pane ;
And those orchard trees, oh those orchard trees !

I 've seen my little brothers rocked
In their tops by the sunmier breeze.

The sweet-briar, under the window-sill,

Which the early birds made glad.
And the damask rose, by the garden-fence,

Were all the flowers we had.
I 've looked at many a flower since then,

Exotics rich and rare,
That to other eyes were lovelier

But not to me so fair ;
For those roses bright, oh those roses bright !

I have twined them in my sister's locks.
That are hid in the dust from sight.


We had a well, a deep old well,

Where the spring was never dry,
And the cool drops down from the moss}' stones

Were falling constantly ;
And there never was water half so sweet

As the draught which filled my cup,
Drawn up to the curb by the rude old swce])

That my father's hand set up.
And that deep old well, oh that deep old well I

I remember now the plashing sound
Of the bucket as it fell.

Our homestead had an ample hearth,

Where at night we loved to meet ;
There my mother's voice was always kind,

And her smile was always sweet ;
And there I 've sat on my father's knee.

And watched his thoughtful brow,
With my childish hand in his raven hair, —

That hair is silver now !
But that broad hearth's light, oh that broad
hearth "s light !

And my father's look, and my mother's smile,
They are in my heart to-night !


" False 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 theni perish all, for their power has waned,

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

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

Again, and call him mine ; —
The King is dead, long live the King 1 "

Said the Lady Jaqueline.

" In the old, old days, when life was new,

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

AVhom I loved with the heart of a child
AVhen 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 ; —


77/e King is dead, long live the King I "
Said the Lady Jaqiieliiie.

" And yet it almost makes me weep,

Ay ! weep, aiid cry, alas !
Wl;en I think of one who lies asleep

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

And low in homage bent,
And prayed for his Jong and prosperous reign,

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

Nor kneel at an empty shrine ; —
TJie King is dead, long live the King ! "

Said the Lady Jaqueline.

" Once, caught by tlie sheen of stars and lace.

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

Unfit for place or sway.
That nnist have been 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 homajje true at last I bring

To this rightful lord of mine, —
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 !
1 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 !
JMy faith 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 day.
False or fickle, or weak or wed.

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

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

For my king of the right divine ; —
The King is dead, long live the King!*'

Said the Lady Jaqueline.


IIer heart was light as human heart can be,
When bUishingly she listened to the praise
Of him who talked of love in those sweet days

When first she kept a lover's company.

That was hope's spring-time ; now its flowers are
And she, grown tired of life before its close,
Weaves melancholy stories out of woes,

Across whose dismal threads her heart has bled.

Yet even for such we need not quite despair
Since from our wronor God can bring forth

His right ;
And He, though all are precious in His sight,

Doth give the uncared-for His peculiar care.

So, in the good life that shall follow this,
He, being love, may make her love to be
One golden thread, spun out eternally.

Through her Avhite fingers, trembling with their
bliss. ^


Do we not say, forgive us, Lord,
Ofl when too well we understand

Our sorrow is not such as Thou
Requirest at the sinner's hand ?

Have we not sought Thy face in tears,
When our desire hath rather been,

Deliverance from the punishment,
Tlian full deliverance from the sin ?

Alas ! we mourn because we fain

Would keep the things we should resign ;

And pray, because we cannot pray, —
Not my rebellious will, but Thine !


Think on him, Lord ! we ask Thy aid
In life's most dread extremity ;

For evil days have come to him,

AVho in his youth remembered Thee.

Look on him. Lord ! for heart and flesh,
Alike, must fail without Thy grace ;

Part back the clouds, that he may see
The brightness of his Father's face.

Speak to him. Lord ! as Thou didst talk
To Adam, in the Garden's shade,

And grant it unto him to hear
Thy voice, and not to be afraid.

Support him, Lord ! that he may coine,
Leaning on Thee, in faith sublime,

Up to that awful landmark, set,
Between eternity and time.

And, Lord ! if it must be that we
Shall walk with him no more below,

Reach out of heaven Thy loving liancl.
And lead him where we cannot iro.


T WA s a lonesome couch we came to spread
For her, when her little life was o'er,

And a narrower one than any bed
Whereon she had ever slept before.

And we feared that she could not slumber so,
As we stood about her when all was done,

For the pillow seemed too hard and low
For her precious head to rest upon.

But, when we had followed her two by two,
And lowered her down there where she lies,

There was nothing left for us to do,

J>ut to hide it all from our tearful eyes.

So we softly and tenderly spread between
Our face and the face our love rec^rets,

A covering, woven of leafy green,
And spotted over with violets.


I i.ovM-: tny love so well, I would
There were no eyes but ir.ine that could
See my sweet piece of womanhood,
And marvel of deli^bt.

I dread that even the sun should rise ;
That bold, bright rover of the skies,
Who dares to touch her closed eyes,
And put her dreams to flight.

No maid could be more kind to me,
No truer maiden lives than she.
But yet I die of jealousy,

A thousand deaths in one.

I cannot bear to see her stop.

With her soft hand a flower to crop ;

I envy even the clover-top

Her dear foot treads upon.

How cruel in my sight to bless
Even her bird with the caress
Of fingers that I dare not press. —
Those lady fingers, white ;


That nestle oft in that dear place
Between her pillow and her face,
And, never asking leave or grace.
Caress her cheek at night !

'Tis torture more than I can bear
To see the wanton summer air
Lift the bright tresses of her hair,
And careless let them fall.

The wind that through the roses slips,
And every sparkling dew-drop sips,
Without rebuke may kiss her lips,
The sweetest rose of all.

I envy, on her neck of snow,
The white pearls hanging in a row.
The opals on her heart that glow
Flushed with a tender red.

I would not, in her chamber fair.
The curious stars should see her, \\here
I, even in thought, may scarcely dare
For reverence to tread.

O maiden, hear and answer me
In kindness or in cruelty ;
Tell me to live or let me die,
I cry, and cry again !


Give nie to touch one golden tress,

Give me tliy white hand to caress,

Give nie thy red, red lips to press.

And ease my jealous paii) !



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Online LibraryPhoebe CaryPoems of faith, hope, and love → online text (page 5 of 7)