Tuesday, July 29, 2014


"Man wants but little here below"
Oliver Wendell Holmes

 Little I ask; my wants are few;
 I only wish a hut of stone
(A very plain brownstone will do),
 That I may call my own:
 And close at hand is such a one,
 In yonder street that fronts the sun.

Plain food is quite enough for me;
 Three courses are as good as ten;
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
 I always thought cold victual nice;
My choice would be vanilla-ice.

 I care not much for gold or land;
Give me a mortgage here and there,
 Some good bank-stock, some note of hand,
 Or a trifling railroad share,
 I only ask that Fortune send
 A little more than I shall spend.

 Honors are silly toys, I know,
 And titles are but empty names;
 I would, perhaps be Plenipo,
 But only near St. James;
 I'm very sure I should not care
 To fill our Gubernator's chair.

Jewels are bawbles; 'tis a sin
 To care for such unfruitful things;
 One good-sized diamond in a pin,
 Some, not so large in rings,
 A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
 Will do for me; I laugh at show.

 My dame should dress in cheap attire;
 (Good, heavy silks are never dear;)
I own perhaps I might desire
Some shaw is of true Cashmere,
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
 Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.

 I would not have the horse I drive 
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
And easy gait- two, forty-five
Suits me; I do not care;
Perhaps, for just a single spurt 
Some seconds less would do no hurt.

Of pictures, I should like to own
 Titians and Raphaels three or four,
 I love so much their style and tone,
 One Turner, and no more,
 (A landscape,-foreground golden dirt,
 The sunshine painted with a squirt.)

Of books but few,-some fifty score
 For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor;
 Some little luxury there
 Of red morocco's gilded gleam,
 And vellum rich as country cream.

Busts, cameos, gems,-such things as these
 Which others often show for pride,
 I value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride;
 One Stradivarius, I confess,
 Two meerschaums,
 I would fain possess.

Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn
 Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
 But all must be of burl?
 Give gasping pomp its double share,
 I ask but one recumbent chair.

Thus humble let me live and die,
 Nor long for Midas's golden touch;
 If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them much)
 Too grateful for the blessing lent
 Of simple tastes and mind content!

The Largest Congregation

Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
 The Devil always builds a chapel there;
 And 'twill be found upon examination,
 The latter has the largest congregation.

 -Daniel Defoe

The Caisson Song

Over hill, over dale, we have hit the dusty trail,
And those caissons go rolling along.
In and out, hear them shout,
 "Counter march and right about!"
 And those caissons go rolling along.

Then it's hi! hi! hi! heel in the field artillery,
Sound off your numbers loud and strong
Where e'er you go you will always know
That those caissons are rolling along.
Keep them rolling!
 And those caissons go rolling along

Then it's Battery Halt!
 Through the storm, through the night,
 up to where the dough¬boys fight,
 All our caissons go rolling along.
At zero we'll be there, answering every call and flare,
 While our caissons go rolling along.

Cavalry, boot to boot, we will join in the pursuit,
 While the caissons go rolling along.
Action front, at a trot; volley fire with shell and shot
While those caissons go rolling along.
But if fate me should call, and in action I should fall,
 And those caissons go rolling along.

Fire at will, lay' em low, never stop for any foe,
 While those caissons go rolling along.
But if fate me should call, and in action I should fail,
 Keep those caissons a-rolling along.
Then in peace I'll abide when I take my final ride
 On a caisson that's rolling along.

Major Edmund L. Gruber


Inasmuch as most good things are produced by labor, it follows that all such things ought to belong to those whose labor has produced them. But it has happened in all ages of the world that some have labored, and others, without labor, have enjoyed a larger proportion of the fruits. This is wrong, and should not continue. To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labor as nearly as possible is a worthy object of any good government.

 (From First Annual Message to Congress, Dec. 3, 1861)

Abraham Lincoln

Farewell To Nancy

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
 Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
 Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
 Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.
 Who shall say that fortune grieves him
 While the star of hope she leaves him?
 Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me,
 Dark despair around benights me.
 I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
 Naething could resist my Nancy;
 But to see her, was to love her;
 Love but her, and love for ever.
 Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
 Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
 Never met-or never parted,
We had ne' er been broken hearted.
 Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
 Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
 Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
 Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure.
 Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae farewell, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I pledge thee,
 Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

Robert Burns

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That Nantucket Limerick, and What Followed

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket;
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
(Princeton Tiger)

But he followed the pair to Pawtucket
The man and. the girl with the bucket;
And he said to the man
He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.
(Chicago Tribune)

Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
Where he still held the cash as an asset;
But Nan and the man
Stole the money and ran,
And as for the bucket, Manhasset.
(New York Press)

The Seige of Belgrade

An Austrian army, awfully arrayed,
Boldly by battery besieged Belgrade.
Cossack commanders cannonading come,
Dealing destruction's devastating doom.
Every endeavor engineers essay,
For fame, for fortune fighting-furious fray!
Generals 'gainst general grapple-gracious God!
How honors Heaven heroic hardihood!
Infuriate, indiscriminate in ill,
Kindred kill kinsmen, kinsmen kindred kill.
Labor low levels longest, loftiest lines;
Men march 'mid mounds, 'mid moles, 'mid murderous mines;
Now noxious, noisy numbers nothing, naught
Of outward obstacles, opposing ought;
Poor patriots, partly purchased, partly pressed,
Quite quaking, quickly "Quarter! Quarter!" quest.
Reason returns, religious right redounds,
Suwarrow stops such sanguinary sounds.
Truce to thee, Turkey! Triumph to thy train,
Unwise, unjust, unmerciful Ukraine!
Vanish, vain victory! vanish, victory vain!
Why wish we warfare? Wherefore welcome were
Xerxes, Ximenes, Xanthus, Xavier?
Yield, yield, ye youths! ye yeomen, yield your yell
Zeus', Zarpater's, Zoroaster's zeal,
Attracting all, arms against acts appeal!

Alaric Alexander Watts

(this is one astonishing poem, the largest poem of alliteration I've ever seen, and in perfect alphabetical order)

To An Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows,
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

A. E. Housman

Breathes There The Man With Soul So Dead

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
(From The Lay of the Last Minstrel)

Sir Walter Scott

truth and politics

You can always get the truth from an American statesman after he has turned seventy, or given up all hope for the Presidency.

 -Wendell Phillips

Eulogy At His Brother's Funeral

DEAR FRIENDS: I am going to do that which the dead oft promised he would do for me.
The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend, died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west.
He had not passed on life's highway the stone that marks the highest point; but being weary for a moment, he lay down by the wayside, and using his burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down his eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust.
Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid-sea or 'mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death. This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock; but in the sunshine he was vine and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights, and left all superstitions far below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning of the grander day.
He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, the poor, the wronged, and lovingly gave alms. With loyal heart and with the purest hands he faithfully discharged all public trusts.
He was a worshiper of liberty, a friend of the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote these words: "For Justice all places a temple, and all seasons, summer." He believed that hap¬piness was the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest. He added to the sum of human joy; and were everyone to whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep tonight beneath a wilderness of flowers.
Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.
He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, "I am better now." Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas, of fears and tears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead.
The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet, unselfish act is now a perfumed flower.
And now, to you, who have been chosen, from among the many men he loved, to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred dust.
Speech cannot contain our love. There was, there is, no gentler, stronger, manlier man.

Robert G. Ingersoll

She Is More To Be Pitied Than Censured

At the old concert hall on the Bowery
Round the table were seated one night
A crowd of young fellows carousing;
With them life seemed cheerful and bright.

At the very next table was seated
A girl who had fallen to shame.
All the young fellows jeered at her weakness
Till they heard an old woman exclaim:

She is more to be pitied than censured,
She is more to be helped than despised,
She is only a lassie who ventured
On life's stormy path ill-advised.

Do not scorn her with words fierce and bitter,
Do not laugh at her shame and downfall;
For a moment just stop and consider
That a man was the cause of it all.

There's an old-fashioned church round the corner,
Where the neighbors all gathered one day
While the parson was preaching a sermon
O'er a soul that had just passed away.

Happy, in truth, that not one face
We missed from its accustomed place;
Thankful to work for all the seven,
Trusting the rest to One in heaven!

William B. Gray

Echoes To A Slave

Or ever the knightly years were gone
With the old world to the grave,
I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Christian Slave.

I saw, I took, I cast you by,
I bent and broke your pride.
You loved me well, or I heard them lie,
But your longing was denied.

Surely I knew that by and by
You cursed your gods and died.
And a myriad suns have set and shone
Since then upon the grave

Decreed by the King of Babylon
To her that had been his Slave.
The pride I trampled is now my scathe,
For it tramples me again.

The old resentment lasts like death,
For you love, yet you refrain.
I break my heart on your hard unfaith,
And I break my heart in vain.

Yet not for an hour do I wish undone
The deed beyond the grave,
When I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Virgin Slave.

William Ernest Henley

The Cloud

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds everyone,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast,
And all the nights 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning, my pilot, sits,
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Laps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead,
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine airy nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn:
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the sun's throne with a burning zone,
And the moon's with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,
While the moist earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of earth and water,
And the nursling of the sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain, when with never a stain
The pavilion of heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex gleams,
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

Percy Blythe Shelley

If I Should Die Tonight

If I should die tonight,
My friends would look upon my quiet face
Before they laid it in its resting place,
And deem that death had left it almost fair;
And laying snow-white flowers against my hair,
Would smooth it down with tearful tenderness,
And fold my hands with lingering caress;
Poor hands, so empty and so cold tonight!

If I should die tonight,
My friends would call to mind with loving thought,
Some kindly deed the icy hand had wrought,
Some gentle word the frozen lips had said;
Errands on which the willing feet had sped.
The memory of my selfishness and pride,
My hasty words, would all be put aside,
And so I should be loved and mourned tonight.

If I should die tonight,
Even hearts estranged would turn once more to me,
Recalling other days remorsefully.
The eyes that chill me with averted glance
Would look upon me as of yore, perchance,
Would soften in the old, familiar way;
For who could war with dumb, unconscious clay?
So I might rest, forgiven of all, tonight.

0 friends, I pray tonight,
Keep not your kisses for my dead, cold brow.
The way is lonely; let me feel them now.
Think gently of me; I am travel-worn;
My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn.
Forgive, 0 hearts estranged, forgive, I plead!
When dreamless rest is mine I shall not need
The tenderness for which I long tonight.

Arabella Eugenia Smith

Words For Army Bugle Calls

 I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up in the morning.
 I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em up at all.
The corp'ral's worse than privates; The sergeant's worse than corp'rals;
 Lieutenant's worse than sergeants; An' the captain's worst of all

Come and get your quinine, and come and get your pills;
Ohl Come and get your quinine,
And cure, and cure, all your ills, and cure your ills.

Soupy, soupy, soupy, without a single bean;
Porky, porky, porky, without a streak of lean;
Coffee, coffee, coffee, without any cream.

Come off to the stable, all you who are able,
And give your horses some oats and some corn;
For if you don't do it, your colonel will know it,
And then you will rue it, as sure as you're born.

With a pick and with a shovel, and with a hoe;
With a sentry at your back you won't say no;
With a pick and with a shovel, and with a hoe,
Down in the ditch you go!

Fading light
Dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky,
Gleaming bright,
From a-far,
Drawing nigh,
Falls the night.
Dear one, rest!
In the west
Sable night
Lulls the day on her breast.
Sweet, good night!
Now away
To thy rest.
Love, sweet dreams
Lo, the beams
Of the light
Fairy moon kiss the streams.
Love, good night
Ah, so soon!
Peaceful dreams!

The Marines Hymn

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
On the land as on the sea.
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"

Only a man harrowing clods
 In a slow silent walk,
 With an old horse that stumbles and nods
 Half asleep as they stalk.

Only thin smoke without flame 
From the heaps of couch grass:
Yet this will go onward the same
 Though Dynasties pass.

Yonder a maid and her wight
 Come whispering by;
War's annals will fade into night
 Ere their story die.

Thomas Hardy

Battle slain

He that fights and runs away
May turn and fight another day;
 But he that is in battle slain
Will never rise to fight again.


From Evangeline

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
 Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
 Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
 Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
 Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
 Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
 Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
 Where is the thatched-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,
 Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
 Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
 Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
 Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
 Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand Pre.
Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
 Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,
 List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
 List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Church Scene

So passed the morning away. And lot with a summons sonorous
Sounded the bell from its tower, and over the meadows a drum beat.
Thronged erelong was the church with men. Without, in the churchyard,
Waited the women. They stood by the graves, and hung on the headstones
Garlands of autumn-leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest.
Then came the guard from the ships and marching proudly among them
Entered the sacred portal. With loud and dissonant clangor
Echoed the sound of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement
Echoed a moment only, and slowly the ponderous portal
Closed, and in silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers.
Then uprose their commander, and spake from the steps of the
Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals, the royal commission.
"You are convened this day," he said, "by his Majesty's orders,
Clement and kind has he been; but how you have answered his kindness,
Let your own hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper
Painful the task is I do, which to you I know must be grievous.
Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the will of our monarch:.
Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds
Forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province
Be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there
Ever as faithful subjects, a happy and peaceable people!
Prisoners now I declare you, for such is his Majesty's pleasure!"
As, when the air is serene in sultry solstice of summer,
Suddenly gathers a storm, and the deadly sling of the hailstones
Beats down the farmer's corn in the field, and shatters his windows,
Hiding the sun, and strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs,
Bellowing fly the herds, and seek to break their enclosures;
So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then rose
Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger,
And, by one impulse moved, they madly rushed to the doorway.
Vain was the hope of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations
Rang through the house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others
Rose, with his arms uplifted, the figure of Basil the blacksmith,
As, on a stormy sea, a spar is tossed by the billows.
Flushed was his face and distorted with passion; and wildly he shouted-
"Down with the tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance!
Death to these foreign soldiers, who seize on our homes and our harvests!"
More he fain would have said, but the merciless hand of a soldier
Smote him upon the mouth, and dragged him down to the pavement.
In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention,
La! the door of the chancel opened, and Father Felician
Entered, with serious mien, and ascended the steps of the altar.
Raising his reverend hand, with a gesture he awed into silence
All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people;
Deep were his tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful
Spake he, as, after the tocsin's alarum, distinctly the clock strikes.
"What is that ye do, my children? what madness has seized you?
Forty years of my life have I labored among you, and taught you
, Not in word alone, but in deed, to love one another!
Is this the fruit of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and priva¬tions?
Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness?
This is the house of the Prince of Peace, and would you profane it
Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred?
Lo! where the crucified Christ from His cross is gazing upon you!
See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!
Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer, '0 Father, forgive them!'
Let us repeat: that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us,
Let us repeat it now, and say, '0 Father, forgive them!' "
Few were his words of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people
Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded the passionate outbreak,
While they repeated his prayer, and said, "0 Father, forgive them! "

Monday, July 21, 2014

the Walloping Window Blind

A capital ship for an ocean trip
 Was the Walloping Window-Blind!
 No wind that blew dismayed her crew,
 Or troubled the Captain's mind.
The man at the wheel was made to feel
 Contempt for the wildest blow,
 Tho' it often appeared when the gale had cleared
 That he'd been in his bunk below.

 Then blow.ye winds, heigh-ho!.
 A-roving I will go!

 I'll stay no more
on this bright shore,
 So let the music play,
 I'm off for the morning train,
I'll cross the raging main!
I'm off to my love with a boxing glove,
 Ten thousand miles away.

The bo'swain's mate was very sedate,
Yet fond of amusement too;
 He played hopscotch
 with the starboard watch
 While the Captain, he tickled the crew,
And the gunner we had was apparently mad,
 For he sat on the after rail,
And fired salutes
with the Captain's boots,
In the teeth of the booming gale!

 The Captain sat on the Commodore's hat,
 And dined in a royal way,
Off toasted pigs
 and pickles and figs,
And gunnery bread each day
And the cook was Dutch,
and behaved as such,
 For the diet he gave the crew
 Was a number of tons
 of hot cross buns
Served up with sugar and glue!

 All nautical pride we laid aside,
 And we ran the vessel ashore
On the Gullibly Isles,
 where the Poo-poo smiles,
 And the Rubly Ubdugs roar.
 And we sat on the edge
 of a sandy ledge
 And shot at the whistling bee;
 And the cinnamon bats
 wore wet-proof hats
 As they dipped in the shiny sea.

 On Rugbug bark,
 from morn till dark,
We dined till we all had grown
 Uncommonly shrunk
 when a Chinese junk
 Came up from the Torribly Zone.
 She was chubby and square,
 But we didn't much care,
So we cheerily put to sea;
And we left all the crew
 of the junk to chew
 On the bark of the Rugbug tree.

Charles E. Carryl


Methuselah ate what he found on his plate,
 And never, as people do now,
 Did he note the amount of the calorie count:
 He ate it because it was chow.
He wasn't disturbed as at dinner he sat,
 Devouring a roast or a pie,
 To think it was lacking in granular fat
Or a couple of vitamins shy.
 He cheerfully chewed each species of food,
 Unmindful of troubles or fears
Lest his health might be hurt
 By some fancy dessert;
And he lived over nine hundred years.

Casey's Revenge

Being a Reply to the Famous Baseball Classic, "Casey at the Bat" James Wilson

 There were saddened hearts in Mudville for a week or even more;
 There were muttered oaths and curses-every fan in town was sore.
 "Just think," said one, "how soft it looked with Casey at the bat!
 And then to think he'd go and spring a bush-league trick like that."
All his past fame was forgotten; he was now a hopeless "shine,"
 They called him "Strike-out Casey" from the mayor down the line,
 And as he came to bat each day his bosom heaved a sigh,
While a look of helpless fury shone in mighty Casey's eye.
The lane is long, someone has said, that never turns again,
 And Fate, though fickle, often gives another chance to men.
 And Casey smiled-his rugged face no longer wore a frown;
 The pitcher who had started all the trouble came to town.
 All Mudville had assembled; ten thousand fans had come
 To see the twirler who had put big Casey on the bum;
 And when he stepped into the box the multitude went wild.
 He doffed his cap in proud disdain-but Casey only smiled.
"Play ball!" the umpire's voice rang out, and then the game began;
 But in that throng of thousands there was not a single fan
Who thought that Mudville had a chance; and with the setting sun
 Their hopes sank low-the rival team was leading "four to one."
 The last half of the ninth came round, with no change in the score;
 But when the first man up hit safe the crowd began to roar.
The din increased, the echo of ten thousand shouts was heard
 When the pitcher hit the second and gave "four balls" to the third.
Three men on base-nobody out-three runs to tie the game!
A triple meant the highest niche in Mudville's hall of fame;
 But here the rally ended and the gloom was deep as night
When the fourth one "fouled to catcher" and the fifth "flew out to right;"
 A dismal groan in chorus came-a scowl was on each face
When Casey walked up, bat in hand, and slowly took his place;
 His bloodshot eyes in fury gleamed; his teeth were clinched in hate;
He gave his cap a vicious hook and pounded on the plate.
But fame is fleeting as the wind, and glory fades away;
There were no wild and woolly cheers, no glad acclaim this day.
 They hissed and groaned and hooted as they clamored, "Strike him out!"
But Casey gave no outward sign that he had heard this shout.
The pitcher smiled and cut one loose; across the plate it spread;
Another hiss, another groan. "Strike one!" the umpire said. .
 Zip! Like a shot, the second curve broke just below his knee
" Strike two!" the umpire roared aloud; but Casey made no plea.
No roasting for the umpire now-his was an easy lot;
 But here the pitcher whirled again-was that a rifle shot!
 A whack! a crack! and out through space the leather pellet flew,
 A blot against the distant sky, a speck against the blue.
Above the fence in center field, in rapid whirling flight,
The sphere sailed on; the blot grew dim and then was lost to sight.
 Ten thousand hats were thrown in air, ten thousand threw a fit;
 But no one ever found the ball that mighty Casey hit!
Oh, somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun,
 And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun;
 And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall;
 But Mudville hearts are happy now-for Casey hit the ball!

Letter from a Yugoslavian guerrilla fighter to his unborn child

(Found on his body sometime in 1942)
 My Child, sleeping now in the dark and gathering strength for the struggle of birth, I wish you well. At present you have no proper shape, and you do not breathe, and you are blind. Yet, when your time comes, your time and the time of your mother, whom I deeply love, there will be something in you that will give you power to fight for air and life. Such is your heritage, such is your destiny as a child born of woman-to fight for light and hold on without knowing why.
 May the flame that tempers the bright steel of your youth never die, but burn always; so that when your work is done and your long day is ended, you may still be like a watchman's fire at the end of a lonely road-loved and cherished for your gracious glow by all good wayfarers who need light in their darkness and warmth for their comfort.
The spirit of wonder and adventure, the token of immortality, will be given to you as a child. May you keep it forever, with that in your heart which always seeks the gold beyond the rainbow, the pasture beyond the desert, the dawn beyond the sea, the light beyond the dark.
 May you seek always and strive in good faith and high courage, in this world where men grow so tired.
 Keep your capacity for faith and belief, but let your judgment watch what you believe.
 Keep your power to receive everything, only learn to select what your instinct tells you is right.
 Keep your love of life, but throwaway your fear of death. Life must be loved or it is lost; but it should never be loved too well.
 Keep your delight in friendship; only learn to know your friends.
 Keep your intolerance-only save it for what your heart tells you is bad.
 Keep your wonder at great and noble things like sunlight and thunder, the rain and the stars, the wind and the sea, the growth of trees and the return of harvests, and the greatness of heroes.
 Keep your heart hungry for new knowledge; keep your hatred of a lie; and keep your power of indignation. Now I know I must die, and you must be born to stand upon the rubbish heap of my errors. Forgive me for this. I am ashamed to leave you an untidy world. But so it must be.
 In thought, as a last benediction, I kiss your forehead.
 Good night to you-and good morning and a clear dawn.

Little Giffen

Out of the focal and foremost fire,
Out of the hospital walls as dire,
 Smitten of grapeshot and gangrene, 
Eighteenth battle and he sixteen
 Specter such as you seldom see,
 Little Giffen of Tennessee.
 "Take him and welcome," the surgeon said;
 "Not the doctor can help the deadl"
 So we took him and brought him where
 The balm was sweet in our summer air;
 And we laid him down on a wholesome bed;
 Utter Lazarus, heel to head!
 And we watched the war with abated breath
 Skeleton boy against skeleton death!
 Months of torture, how many such!
 Weary weeks of the stick and crutch
And still a glint in the steel-blue eye
Told of a spirit that wouldn't die,
And didn't! Nay! more! in death's despite
 The crippled skeleton learned to write
 "Dear mother!" at first, of course, and then
 "Dear Captainl" inquiring about the men.
 Captain's answer: "Of eighty and five,
 Giffen and I are left alive."
 "Johnston pressed at the front," they say;
 Little Giffen was up and away!
 A tear, his first, as he bade good-by,
 Dimmed the glint of his steel-blue eye.
 "I'll write, if spared!" There was news of fight,
 But none of Giffen-he did not write
 I sometimes fancy that were I King
Of the courtly Knights of Arthur's ring,
 With the voice of the minstrel in mine ear
 And the tender legend that trembles here,
I'd give the best on his bended knee
The whitest soul of my chivalry
For Little Giffen of Tennessee.

Francis Orray Ticknor

Lincoln Challenges Robert Allen

New Salem, June 21, 1836

Dear Colonel: I am told that during my absence last week you passed through this place, and stated publicly that you were in possession of a fact or facts which, if known to the. public, would entirely destroy the prospects of N. W. Edwards and myself at the ensuing election; but that, through favor to us, you should forbear to divulge them. No one has needed favors more than I, and, generally, few have been less unwilling to accept them; but in this case favor tome would be injustice to the public, and therefore I must beg your pardon for declining it. That I once had the confidence of the people of Sangamon, is sufficiently evident; and if I have since done anything, either by design or misadventure, which if known would subject me to a forfeiture of that confidence, he that knows of that thing, and conceals it, is a traitor to his country's interest. .

I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact or facts, real or supposed, you spoke; but my opinion of your veracity will not permit me for a moment to doubt you at least believed what you said. I am flattered with the personal regard you manifested for me; but I do hope that, on more mature reflection, you will view the public interest as a paramount consideration, and therefore determine to let the worst come. I here assure you that the candid statement of facts on your part, however low it may sink me, shall never break the tie of personal friendship between us. I wish an answer to this, and you are at liberty to publish both, if you choose.

A. Lincoln

The Common People

The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors . . but always most in the common people. Their manners, speech, dress, friendships,-the freshness and candor of their physiognomy-the picturesque looseness of their carriage. . . their deathless attachment to freedom-their aversion to anything indecorous or soft or mean-the practical acknowledgment of the citizens of one state by the citizens of all other states-the fierceness of their roused resentment-their curiosity and susceptibility to a slight-the air they have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors-the fluency of their speech-their delight in music, the sure symptom of manly tenderness and native elegance of soul. . . their good temper and openhandedness-the terrible significance of their elections-the President's taking off his hat to them and not they to him-these too are unrhymed poetry.

 (From the preface to Leaves of Grass)

Walt Whitman

Abraham Lincooln's letter to Johnston, his step-brother

Dear Johnston:
 Your request for eighty dollars I do not think it best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped you a little you-have said to me, "We can get along very well now"; but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are an idler. I doubt whether, since I saw you, you have done a good whole day's work in anyone day. You do not very much dislike to work, and still you do not work much, merely because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it. This habit of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty; it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break the habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out of it after they are in.
 You are now in need of some money; and what I propose is, that you shall go to work, "tooth and nail," for somebody who will give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge of your things at home, prepare for a crop, and make a crop, and you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get; and, to secure you a fair reward for your labor, I now promise you, that for every dollar you will, between this and the first of May, get for your own labor, either in money or as your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a month, from. me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your work. In this I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines in California, but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get close to home in Coles County. Now, if you will do this, you will soon be out of debt, and, what is better, you will have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But if I should now clear you out of debt, next year you would be just as deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in heaven for seventy or eighty dollars. Then you value your place in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you can, with the offer I make, get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months' work. You say if I will furnish you the money you will deed me the land, and, if you don't pay the money back, you will deliver possession. Nonsense! If you can't live with the land, how will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me, and I do not mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eighty times eighty dollars to you.
 Affectionately your brother,
 A. Lincoln

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Newspaper Hoax That Fooled the Nation

Popular Young Couple Married This Week
 The groom is a popular young bum who hasn't done a lick of work since he got shipped in the middle of his junior year at college. He manages to dress well and to keep a supply of spending money because his dad is a soft-hearted old fool who takes up his bad checks instead of letting him go to jail where he belongs.
 The bride is a skinny, fast little idiot who has been kissed and handled by every boy in town since she was twelve years old. She paints like a Sioux Indian, sucks cigarettes in secret, and drinks mean corn-liquor when she is out joy-riding in her dad's car at night. She doesn't know how to cook, sew or keep house.
 The groom wore a rented dinner suit over athletic underwear of imitation silk. His pants were held up by pale green suspenders. His number eight patent-leather shoes matched his state in tightness and harmonized nicely with the axle-grease polish of his hair. In addition to his jag he carried a pocket-knife, a bunch of keys, a dun for the ring and his usual look of imbecility.
 The bride wore some kind of white thing that left most of her legs sticking out at one end and her bony upper end sticking out at the other.
 The young people will make their home with the bride's parents, which means they will sponge on the old man until he dies and then she will take in washing. The happy couple anticipate a great event in about five months.
 Postscript.- This may be the last issue of The Tribune, but my life ambition has been to write up one wedding and tell the unvarnished truth. Now that it is done, death can have no sting.
 (By Robert E. Quillen in the Fountain Inn, S. C., Tribune)

The Death of Stonewall Jackson

About noon, when Major Pendleton came into the room, he [Stonewall Jackson] asked, "Who is preaching at headquarters today?" He was told that Mr. Lacy was, and that the whole army was praying for him. "Thank God," he said; "they are very kind to me." Already his strength was fast ebbing, and although his face brightened when his baby was brought to him, his mind had begun to wander.
 Now he was on the battle-field, giving orders to his men; now at home in Lexington; now at prayers in the camp. Occasionally his sense came back to him, and about half-past one he was told that he had but two hours to live. Again he answered, feebly but firmly, "Very good; it is all right." These were almost his last coherent words. For some time he lay unconscious, and then suddenly he cried out: "Order A. P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front! Tell Major Hawks-" then stopped, leaving the sentence unfinished. Once more he was silent; but a little while after he said very quietly and clearly, "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees," and the soul of the great captain passed into the peace of God.

 Lieut.-Col. George F. R. Henderson 

The Kid in Upper 4

 It is 3.42 a.m. on a troop train.
Men wrapped in blankets are breathing heavily.
 Two in every lower berth. One in every upper.
 This is no ordinary trip. It may be their last in the U.S.A. till the end of the war. Tomorrow they will be on the high seas.

One is wide awake. . . listening. . . staring into the blackness.
It is the kid in Upper 4. Tonight, he knows, he is leaving behind a lot of little things¬ and big ones.
 The taste of hamburgers and pop-the feel of driving a roadster over a six-lane highway. . . a dog named Shucks, or Spot, or Barnacle Bill.
 The pretty girl who writes so often. . . that gray-haired man, so proud and awkward at the station. . . the mother who knit the socks he'll wear so soon. Tonight he's thinking them over. There's a lump in his throat. And maybe-a tear fills his eye. It doesn't matter, Kid. Nobody will see. . . it's too dark.

A couple of thousand miles away, where he's going, they don't know him very well.
But people all over the world are waiting, praying for him to come.
 And he will come, this kid in Upper 4.
With new hope, peace and freedom for a tired, bleeding world.
Next time you are on the train, remember the kid in Upper 4.
If you have to stand en route-it is so he may have a seat.
If there is no berth for you-it is so that he may sleep.
If you have to wait for a seat in the diner-it is so he-and thousands like him. . . may have a meal they won't forget in the days to come.

For to treat him as our most honored guest is the least we can do to pay a mighty debt of gratitude. THE NEW HAVEN R.R.
 (Written by Nelson C. Metcalf)

The Printing Press

I am the printing press, born of the mother earth.
 My heart is of steel, my limbs are of iron, and my fingers are of brass.
 I sing the songs of the world, the oratorios of history, the symphonies of all time.
 I am the voice of today, the herald of tomorrow. I weave into the warp of the past the woof of the future. I tell the stories of peace and war alike.
 I make the human heart beat with passion or tenderness. I stir the pulse of nations, and make brave men do braver deeds, and soldiers die.
I inspire the midnight toiler, weary at his doom, to lift his head again and gaze with fearlessness into the vast beyond, seeking the consolation of a hope eternal.
When I speak, a myriad people listen to my voice. The Saxon, the Latin, the Celt, the Hun, the Slav, the Hindu, all comprehend me.
I am the tireless clarion of the news. I cry your joys and sorrows every hour. I fill the dullard's mind with thoughts uplifting.
 I am light, knowledge, power. I epitomize the conquests of mind over matter. I am the record of all things mankind has achieved.
 My offspring comes to you in the candle's glow, amid the dim lamps of poverty, the splendor of riches; at sunrise, at high noon and in the waning evening.
 I am the laughter and tears of the world, and I shall never die until all things return to their immutable dust.
 I am the printing press.

Robert H. Davis

A Child's Prayer

Little Jesus, wast Thou shy Once,
 and just so small as I?
And what did it feel like to be
Out of Heaven, and just like me?
 Didst Thou sometimes think of there,
And ask where all the angels were?
 I should think that I would cry
For my house all made of sky;
I would look about the air,
 And wunder where my angels were;
And at waking 'twould distress me
N at an angel there to dress me
 Hadst Thou ever any toys,
 Like us little girls and boys?
And didst Thou play in Heaven with all
 The angels, that were not too tall,
With stars for marbles? Did the things
Play Can you see me? through their wings?
 And did Thy mother let Thee spoil
 Thy robes with playing on our soil?
How nice to have been always new
 In Heaven, because 'twas clean blue
 I Didst Thou kneel at night to pray,
And didst Thou join Thy hands, this way?
And did they tire sometimes, being young,
And make the prayer seem very long?
 And dost Thou like it best, that we
 Should join our hands and pray to Thee?
I used to think, before I knew,
The prayer not said unless we do.
And did Thy mother at the night
Kiss Thee and fold the clothes in right?
And didst Thou feel quite good in bed,
Kissed, and sweet, and Thy prayers said?
 Thou canst not have forgotten all
That it feels like to be small:
 And Thou know'st I cannot pray
To Thee in my father's way
When Thou wast so little, say,
Could'st Thou talk Thy Father's way?
 So, a little child, come down
 And hear a child's tongue like Thy own;
 Take me by the hand and walk,
 And listen to my baby-talk.
 To Thy Father show my prayer
 (He will look, Thou art so fair),
And say: "0 Father, I Thy Son,'
 Bring the prayer of a little one."
 And He will smile, that children's tongue
 Has not changed since Thou wast young

(Ex ore Infantium) Francis Thompson

A wet sheet and a flowing sea,

A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
 A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sail
 And bends the gallant mast;
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
 While like the eagle free
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
 Old England on the lee.
 0 for a soft and gentle wind!
 I heard a fair one cry;
But give to me the snoring breeze
 And white waves heaving high;
And white waves heaving high, my lads,
 The good ship tight and free
The world of waters is our home,
 And merry men are we.
There's tempest in yon horned moon,
 And lightning in yon cloud;
But hark the music, mariners!
 The wind is piping loud;
The wind is piping loud, my boys,
 The lightning flashes free
 While the hollow oak our palace is,
 Our heritage of the sea.

Allan Cunningham

Julius Ceasar's Preference

Let me have men about me that are fat,
 Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep 0' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

 (From Julius Caesar)
William Shakespeare

old eyes

How sad it is to think that eyes that are too old to see are yet not too old to shed tears.
-Francois Rene de Chateaubriand

The Last Message From the Alamo

Commandancy of the Alamo, Bexar, February 24, 1836.-

 To the people of Texas and all Americans in the world.
 Fellow citizens and compatriots:
 I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannonade for twenty-four hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion; otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender nor retreat.
Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism, and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of our country.

Lieutenant Colonel Commandant

 P.S. The Lord is on our side. When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn. We have since found in deserted houses eighty or ninety bushels and got into the walls twenty or thirty head of beeves.

Black eyed Susan

All in the Downs the fleet was moored,
 The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard;
 "0, where shall I my true-love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true
If my sweet William sails among the crew."
 William, who high upon the yard
 Rocked with the billow to and fro,
 Soon as her well-known voice he heard
 He sighed, and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.
 So the sweet lark, high poised in air,
 Shuts close his pinions to his breast
If chance his mate's shrill call he hear,
 And drops at once into her nest:
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William's lips those kisses sweet.
 "0 Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
 My vows shall ever true remain:
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.
"Believe not what the landmen say
 Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
They'll tell thee, sailors, when away,
 In every port a mistress find:
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
 For Thou art present wheresoe'er I go.
 "If to fair India's coast we sail,
 Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,
 Thy breath is Africa's spicy gale,
 Thy skin is ivory so white.
Thus every beauteous object that I view.
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.
"Though battle call me from thy arms,
 Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
 William shall to his dear return.
 Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
 Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye."
 The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
 The sails their seeling bosom spread;
No longer must she stay aboard:
They kissed, she sighed, he hung his head.
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;
 "Adieu!" she cried; and waved her lily hand.

John Gay

What is an American by Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecceur

What then is the American, this new man? He is either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons now have four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labor and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigor, and industry which began long since in the east; they will finish the great circle. The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared, and which will hereafter become distinct by the power of the different climates they inhabit. The American ought therefore to love his country much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born. Here the rewards of his industry follow with equal steps the progress of his labor; his labor is founded on the basis of nature, self-interest; can it want a stronger allurement? Wives and children, who before in vain demanded of him a morsel of bread, now, fat and frolicsome, gladly help their father to clear those ,fields whence exuberant crops are to arise to feed and to clothe them all; without any part being claimed, either by a despotic prince, a rich abbot, or a mighty lord. Here religion demands but little of him; a small voluntary salary to the minister, and gratitude to God; can he refuse these? The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence, penury, and useless labor, he has passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence- This is an American.
 (From Letters of an American Farmer, 1782)


The man who takes the oath today to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States only assumes the solemn obligation which every patriotic citizen - on the farm, in the workshop, in the busy marts of trade and everywhere-should share with him. The Constitution which prescribes his [the President's] oath, my countrymen, is yours; the government you have chosen him to administer for a time is yours; the laws and the entire scheme of our civil rule, from the town meeting to the State capitals and the national capital, is yours. Every voter, as surely as your chief magistrate, under the same high sanction, though in a different sphere, exercises a public trust. Nor is this all. Every citizen owes to the country a vigilant watch and close scrutiny of its public servants and a fair and reasonable estimate of their fidelity and usefulness. Thus is the people's will impressed upon the whole framework of our civil policy-municipal, state and federal; and this is the price of our liberty and the inspiration of our faith in the republic.

Grover Cleveland

Home they bought her warrior

Home they brought her warrior dead;
 She nor swoon'd nor utter'd cry.
All her maidens, watching, said,
 "She must weep or she will die."
 Then they praised him soft and low,
 Call'd him worthy to be loved,
Truest friend and noblest foe;
 Yet she neither spoke nor moved.
 Stole a maiden from her place,
 Lightly to the warrior stept,
Took the face-cloth from the face;
 Yet she neither moved nor wept.
 Rose a nurse of ninety years, 
Set his child upon her knee
 Like summer tempest came her tears
 'Sweet my child, I live for thee.'

 (From The Princess)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In the Baggage Coach Ahead

On a dark and stormy night, as the train rattled on,
 all the passengers had gone to bed,
 Except one young man with a babe in his arms
 who sat there with a bowed-down head.

 The innocent one began crying just then,
 as though its poor heart would break,
One angry man said, "Make that child stop its noise,
 for it's keeping all of us awake,"

 "Put it out," said another, "Don't keep it in here,
We've paid for our berths and want rest."
 But never a word said the man with the child,
As he fondled it close to his breast,

 "Where is its mother, go take it to her,"
this a lady then softly said.
 "I wish I could," was the man's sad reply,
"But she's dead in the coach ahead."

While the train rolled onward
 A husband sat in tears,
 Thinking of the happiness,
 Of just a few short years;

 For baby's face brings pictures
of a cherished hope that's dead,
 But baby's cries can't waken her,
 In the baggage coach ahead.

Gussie L. Davis

This song was written in 1896 by Gussie L. Davis, the first successful Negro composer. Davis was a porter on the train where the incident actually occurred.

For more history of the song http://www.cafamilytree.0catch.com/past/baggage/bagcoach.htm

America For Me

'Tis fine to see the Old World, and travd up and down
 Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of the kings,
But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things.
So it's home again, and home again, America for me!
Aly heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.
Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair;
And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome;
 But when it comes to living, there is no place like home.
I like the German fir-woods, in green battalions drilled;
I like the garden of Versailles, with flashing fountains filled;
But oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day
 In the friendly Western woodland where Nature has her way
I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack;
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
 But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free,
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.
Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
 I want a ship that's westward bound to plow the rolling sea,
To the blessed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Henry van Dyke

Prayer for a very new angel

God, God, be lenient her first night there.
 The crib she slept in was so near my bed;
Her blue-and-white wool blanket was so soft,
 Her pillow hollowed so to fit her head.
Teach me that she'll not want small rooms or me
 When she has You and Heaven's immensity!
I always left a light out in the hall.
 I hoped to make her fearless in the dark;
 And yet, she was so small-one little light,
 Not in the room, it scarcely mattered. Hark!
 No, no; she seldom cried! God, not too far
 For her to see, this first night, light a star!
 And in the morning, when she first woke up,
 I always kissed her on the left cheek where
The dimple was. And oh, I wet the brush,
 It made it easier to curl her hair.
 Just, just tomorrow morning, God, I pray, .
 When she wakes up, do things for her my way!

Violet Alleyn Storey.

People will talk

We may go through the world, but it will be slow,
If we listen to all that is said as we go.
We will be worried and fretted and kept in a stew;
 Too meddlesome tongues must have something to do.
For people will talk, you know, people will talk;
 Oh, yes, they must talk, you know.

 If quiet and modest, you'll have it presumed
Your humble position is only assumed
You're a wolf in sheep's clothing, or else you're a fool;
 But don't get excited, keep perfectly cool,
For people will talk, etc.

If generous and noble, they'll vent out their spleen
 You'll hear some loud hints that you're selfish and mean;
 If upright and honest and fair as the day,
They'll call you a rogue in a sly, sneaking way.
For people will talk, etc.

 And then if you show the least boldness of heart,
 Or slight inclination to take your own part,
 They'll call you an upstart, conceited and vain;
 But keep straight ahead, and don't stop to complain.
 For people will talk, etc.

If threadbare your coat, and old-fashioned your hat,
 Some one of course will take notice of that,
And hint rather strong that you can't pay your way,
 But don't get excited, whatever you say.
For people will talk, etc.

 If you dress in the fashion, don't think to escape,
For they will criticize then in a different shape;
 You're ahead of your means, or your tailor's unpaid;
 But mind your own business, there's nought to be made,
 For people will talk, etc.

They'll talk fine before you; but then at your back,
 Of venom and slander there's never a lack;
How kind and polite in all that they say,
But bitter as gall when you are away.
For people will talk, etc.

The best way to do is to do as you please,
For your mind (if you have one) will then be at ease;
 Of course you will meet with all sorts of abuse,
 But don't think to stop them, it isn't any use,
 For people will talk, you know, people will talk;
 Oh, yes, they must talk, you know.

A friendship preayer

It is my joy in life to find
 At every turning of the road
The strong arm of a comrade kind
 To help me onward with my load.
 And since I have no gold to give,
 And love alone must make amends,
 My only prayer is, while I live
 God make me worthy of my friends.

Frank Dempster Sherman

The Crime of Beign a Young Man

The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honourable gentleman has, with such spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny; but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and not of those who continue ignorant in spite of age and experience.

 (From a speech, March 3, 1741, in reply to Walpole)

William Pitt

The Wind and the Moon

Said the Wind to the Moon: "I will blow you out;
You stare
In the air
Like a ghost in a chair,
Always looking what I am about
I hate to be watched; I'll blow you out."

The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon. So, deep
On a heap
Of clouds to sleep,
Down lay the Wind, and slumbered soon,
 Muttering low, "I've done for that Moon."

He turned in his bed; she was there again
On high
In the sky,
With her one ghost eye,
The Moon shone white and alive and plain,
Said the Wind, "I will blow you out again."

The Wind blew hard, and the Moon grew dim, "With my sledge,
 And my wedge,
 I have knocked off her edge!
 If only I blow right fierce and grim,
The creature will soon be dimmer than dim."

 He blew and he blew, and she thinned to a thread,
 "One puff
More's enough
 To blow her to' snuff!
One good puff more where the last was bred,
And glimmer, glimmer, glum will go the thread."

 He blew a great blast, and the thread was 'gone.
 In the air
 Was a moonbeam bare;
Far off and harmless the shy stars shone
 Sure and certain the Moon was gone!

 The Wind he took to his revels once more;
On down,
 In town,
 Like a merry-mad clown,
He leaped and halloed with whistle and roar:
"What's that?" The glimmering thread once more!

He flew in a rage-he danced and blew;
 But in vain
 Was the pain
Of his bursting brain;
 For still the broader the Moon-scrap grew,
 The broader he swelled his, big cheeks and blew.

Slowly she grew-till she filled the night,
And shone
On her throne
 In the sky alone,
A matchless, wonderful silvery light,
 Radiant and lovely, the queen of the night. .

Said the Wind: "What a marvel of power am I
 With my breath,
Good faith!
 I blew her to death
 First blew her away right out of the sky
 Then blew her in; what strength have I"

But the Moon she knew nothing about the affair;
 For high
In the sky,
 With her one white eye,
 Motionless, miles above the air,
She had never heard the great
Wind blare.

George Macdonald

Music and Poetry

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have kept active through use.

The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

Charles Darwin

When you are old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
 And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
 And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
 Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
 How many loved your moments of glad grace,
 And loved your beauty with love false or true;
 But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
 And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
 Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
 And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

William Butler Yeats

Lincoln to Greeley on saving the union

Executive Mansion, Washington
August 22, 1862

Hon. Horace Greeley:
Dear Sir:
I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself through THE N.Y. TRIBUNE. If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now here argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy "I seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not meant to leave anyone in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it in the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the National authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save Slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy Slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

A. Lincoln.

Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, had just addressed an editorial to Lincoln called "The Prayer of Twenty Millions," making demands and implying that Lincoln's administration lacked direction and resolve.
President Lincoln made his reply when a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation already lay in his desk drawer. His response revealed his concentration on preserving the Union. The letter, which received acclaim in the North, stands as a classic statement of Lincoln's constitutional responsibilities. A few years after the president's death, Greeley wrote an assessment of Lincoln. He stated that Lincoln did not actually respond to his editorial but used it instead as a platform to prepare the public for his "altered position" on emancipation.

the Battle of Santiago, 1898.

Don't cheer, boys; the poor devils are dying.
 -Capt. John W. Philip, U.S.N.,
 at the battle of Santiago, 1898.

Memorial Day

These heroes are dead. They died for liberty-they died for us. They are at rest. They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadow of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or storm, each in the windowless palace of rest. Earth may run red with other wars - they are at peace. In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflicts, they found the serenity of death.

Robert G. Ingersoll

Rougue Bouquet

 In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
 There is a new-made grave today,
Built by never a spade nor pick
 Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
 There lie many fighting" men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
 Nor taste the Summertime.
 For Death came flying through the air
 And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
 Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.

He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
 And fled away.

 Now over the grave abrupt and clear
 Three volleys ring;
 And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing: "Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
 Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
 Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger's past;
Now at last,
Go to sleep!"

 There is on earth no worthier grave
 To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
 Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
 Smiling with their holy eyes
 On this new-come band.
St. Michael's sword darts through the air
 And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them standing at salute there,
His stalwart sons:
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill,
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
 The Gael's blood runs.
 And up to Heaven's doorway floats,
 From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
 A delicate cloud of bugle notes
 That softly say:
"Farewell! Farewell.
Comrades true, born anew., peace to you!
 Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
 Brave 'and dear,
 Shield us here.

March 7, 1918
Joyce Kilmer

So Long, Son

There was no band, no flags, no ceremonial. It wasn't even dramatic. A car honked outside and he said, "Well, I guess that's for me." He picked up his little bag, and his mother said, "You haven't forgotten your gloves?"
He kissed his mother, and held out his hand to me. "Well, so long," he said. I took his hand but all I could say was "Good luck!"
The door slammed and that was that - another boy gone to war.
I had advised waiting for the draft-waiting at least until he was required to register. I had pointed out that he was not yet of age. He had smiled at that, and assured me that his mind was made up. He wanted peace, he said without peace, what good was living?
There was finality in the way he said this - a finality at once grim and gentle. I said no more about waiting. After the door closed behind him I went upstairs. I went to what had been his room. It was in worse chaos than usual. His bureau was littered-an incredible collection, of things, letters, keys, invitations to parties he would not attend.
Clothing was scattered about - dancing pumps, a tennis racket, his collection of phonograph records, his trumpet gleaming in its case.
I went then to my room. On the wall was a picture of a little boy, his toothless grin framed in tawny curls-the same boy who had just taken my hand and said, "Well, so long."
Not much time, I thought, between the making of that picture and the slamming of the front door. Not much more than a decade.
Suddenly a queer thing happened. Objects came alive, whispered to me. The house was full of soft voices. They led me up to the attic-to a box of toy soldiers, a broken music rack, a football helmet, a homemade guitar, schoolbooks, class pictures, a stamp album, a penny bank with the lid pried off . . . ancient history, long hidden under dust.
The voices led me on to a filing case and a folder stuffed with pages and report cards, letters, among them the wail of an exasperated teacher: "Though he looks like an angel. . ." telegrams, passports, a, baptismal certificate, a ribbon won in a track meet, faded photographs (one taken on the memorable first day of long pants), a bit of golden hair.
I sat down and thought how time had flown. Why, it was only yesterday when I held him on my arms! That, somehow, made me remember all the scoldings I had given him, the preachments, the exhortations to virtue and wisdom I did not myself possess. . . .
I thought, too, of that last inarticulate "good luck," that last perfunctory handclasp; and I wished that I had somehow been able to tell him how much I really loved him. Had he perhaps penetrated my brusque reserve? Had he perhaps guessed what was in my heart?
And then I thought, what fools we are with our children-always plotting what we shall make of them, always planning for a future that never comes, always intent on what they may be, never accepting what they are! Well, curlyhead, you're a man now, bearing your bright new shield and spear. I hated to see you go out of my house and close the door behind you, but I think I would not have halted you if I could.
 I salute you, sir. I cannot pretend that I am not sad; but I am proud, too. So long.

(Some months later the son of the author of the above was killed in combat)

Howard Vincent O'Brien
January 8, 1942.

John Ruskin, art Critic and author, and James McNeilll, artist, exchange insults

For Mr. Whistler's own sake, no less than for the protection of the purchaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have admitted works into the gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of tIle artist so nearly approached the aspect of willful imposture. I have seen, and heard, much of cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas.for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face.
 Over and over again did the Attorney-General cry out aloud, in the agony of his cause, "What is to become of painting if the critics withhold their lash?"

 As well might he ask what is to become of mathematics under similar circumstances, were they possible. I maintain that two and two the mathematician would continue to make four, in spite of the whine of the amateur for three, or the cry of the critic for five.
 We are told that Mr. Ruskin has devoted his long life to art, and as a result is "Slade Professor" at Oxford. In the same sentence we have thus his position and its worth. It suffices not, Messieurs! A life passed among pictures makes not a painter-else the policeman in the National Gallery might assert himself.
 As well allege that he who lives in a library must needs die like a poet.
 Let not Mr. Ruskin flatter himself that more education makes the difference between himself and the policeman when both stand gazing in the Gallery. There they might remain until the end of time; the one decently silent, the other saying, in good English, many high-sounding empty things, like the crackling of thorns under a pot-undismayed by the presence of the Masters with whose names he is sacrilegiously familiar; whose intentions he interprets, whose vices he discovers with the facility of the incapable, and whose virtues he descants upon with a verbosity and flow of language that would, could he hear it, give Titian the same shock of surprise that was Balaam's, when the first great critic proffered his opinion.

Plato's cave allegory - Translator: Benjamin Jowett

I said, imagine the enlightenment or ignorance of our nature in a figure: Behold! human beings living in a sort of underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching across the den; they have been here from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them; for the chains are arranged in such a manner as to prevent them from turning round their heads. At a distance above and behind them the light of a fire is blazing, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have before them, over which they show the puppets. I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying vessels which appear over the wall; also figures of men and animals made of wood and stone and various materials; and some of the passengers, as you would expect, are talking, and some are silent?

That is a strange image, he said, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave? True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the subjects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows? Yes, he said.

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

Very true. And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy that the voice which they heard was that of 'a passing shadow?

No question, he replied.

There can be no question, I said, that the truth would be to them just nothing but the shadows of the images.

That is certain. And now look again, and see how they are released and cured of their folly. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to go up and turn his neck round and walk and look at the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then imagine some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, he is approaching real being and has a truer sight and vision of more real things, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be in a difficulty? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him? Far truer.

And if he is compelled to look at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the object of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be clearer than the things which are now being shown to him? True, he said.

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast and forced into the presence of the sun himself, do you not think he will be pained and irritated, and when he approaches the light he will have his eyes dazzled, and will not be able to see any of the realities which are now affirmed to be the truth? Not all in a moment, he said. He will require to get accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars; and he will see the sky and the stars by night, better than the sun, or the light of the sun, by day? Certainly.

And at last he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him as he is in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate his nature. Certainly.

And after that he will reason that the sun is he who gives the seasons and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

Clearly, he said, he would come to the other first and to this afterwards. And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

Certainly, he would.

And if they were in the habit of conferring honors on those who were quickest to observe and remember and foretell which of the passing shadows went before, and which followed after, and which were together, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer, "Better to be a poor man, and not have a poor master," and endure anything, rather than to think and live after their manner?

Yes, he said, I think he would rather suffer anything than live after their manner. Imagine once more, I said, that such an one coming suddenly out of the sun were to be replaced in his old situation, is he not certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

Very true, he said.

And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den during the time that his sight was weak, and before his eyes are steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable), would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that he went up and down he came without his eyes, and that there was no use in even thinking of ascending; and if anyone tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender in the act, and they would put him to death. No question, he said.

This allegory, I said, you may now append to the previous argument; the prison is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, the ascent and vision of the things above you may truly regard as the upward progress of the soul into the intellectual world; that is my poor belief, to which, at your desire, I have given expression. Whether I am right or not God only knows; but, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and lord of light in this world, and the source of truth and reason in the other: this is the first great cause which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must behold. I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you. . . .

I said, I would not have you marvel that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; but their souls are ever hastening into the upper world in which they desire to dwell; and this is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted. Certainly, that is quite natural.

And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplation to human things, misbehaving himself in ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the visible darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavoring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen the absolute justice? There is nothing surprising in that, he replied.

Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees the soul of anyone is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will he more reason in this than in the laugh which greets the other from the den.
(From Book Seven of Plato's The Republic)