Poems by Sir Edwin Arnold, Arthur Hugh Clough, William Allen Butler, Will Carleton, Charles Baudelaire, Francis Bourdillon.


AFTER DEATH

By SIR EDWIN ARNOLD ( 1832 - 1904 )

He who died at Azan sends
This to comfort all his friends.


FAITHFUL friends! It lies, I know,
Pale and white and cold as snow;
And ye say, "Abdallah's dead!"
Weeping at the feet and head.
I can see your falling tears,
I can hear your sighs and prayers;
Yet I smile, and whisper this
" I am not the thing you kiss:
Cease your tears and let it lie;
It was mine, it is not 'I.' "

Sweet friends! what the women lave
For its last bed of the grave
Is a hut which I am quitting,
Is a garment no more fitting,
Is a cage, from which at last,
Like a hawk, my soul hath passed;
Love the inmate, not the room;
The weaver, not the garb; the plume
Of the falcon, not the bars
Which kept him from the splendid stars!

Loving friends! be wise, and dry
Straightway every weeping eye:
What ye lift upon the bier
Is not worth a wistful tear.
'Tis an empty seashell--one
Out of which the pearl has gone:
The shell is broken - it lies there;
The pearl, the all, the soul, is here.
'Tis an earthen jar whose lid
Allah sealed, the while it hid
That treasure of his treasury,
A mind that loved him; let it lie!
Let the shard be earth's once more
Since the gold shines in his store!

Allah glorious! Allah good!
Now thy world is understood;
Now the long, long wonder ends!
Yet ye weep, my erring friends,
While the man whom ye call dead,
In unspoken bliss, instead,
Lives and loves you; lost, 'tis true,
By such light, as shines for you;
But in light ye cannot see,
Of unfilled felicity --
In enlarging paradise --
Lives a life that never dies.

Farewell, friends! Yet not farewell;
Where I am ye too shall dwell.
I am gone before your face
A moment's time, a little space;
When ye come where I have stepped
Ye will wonder why ye wept;
Ye will know, by wise love taught,
That here is all, and there is naught.
Weep awhile, if ye are fain
Sunshine still must follow rain
Only not at death; for death,
Now I know, is that first breath
Which our souls draw when we enter
Life, which is of all life center.

Be ye certain all seems love
Viewed from Allah's throne above;
Be ye stout of heart, and come
Bravely onward to your home!
La Allah illa Allah! yea!
Thou Love divine! Thou Love alway!


He that died at Azan gave
This to those who made his grave.






COURAGE!

By ARTHUR HUGH CLOUGH ( 1819-1861 )

SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!







NOTHING TO WEAR:
an episode in City Life ( 1857 )


TABLE SERVICE OF A LADY OF QUALITY -- 
Romance of Renaud de Montauban ( Arsenal library, Paris )

By WILLIAM ALLEN BUTLER

MISS FLORA M'FLIMSEY, of Madison Square,
Has made three separate journeys to Paris;
And her father assures me, each time she was there,
That she and her friend, Mrs. Harris
(Not the lady whose name is so famous in history,
But plain Mrs. H., without romance or mystery),
Spent six consecutive weeks without stopping,
In one continuous round of shopping;
Shopping alone, and shopping together,
At all hours of the day, and in all sorts of weather,
For all manner of things that a woman can put
On the crown of her head or the sole of her foot,
Or wrap round her shoulders or fit round her waist,
Or that can be sewed on, or pinned on, or laced,
Or tied on with a string, or stitched on with a bow,
In front or behind - above or below:
For bonnets, mantillas, capes, collars, and shawls:
Dresses for breakfasts, and dinners, and balls;
Dresses to sit in, and stand in, and walk in;
Dresses to dance in, and flirt in, and talk in;
Dresses in which to do nothing at all ;
Dresses for winter, spring, summer, and fall;
All of them different in color and pattern
Silk, muslin, and lace, crape, velvet, and satin;
Brocade, and broadcloth, and other material,
Quite as expensive, aud much more ethereal:
In short, for all things that could ever be thought of,
Or milliner, modiste, or tradesman be bought of.
I should mention just here, that out of Miss Flora's
Two hundred and fifty or sixty adorers,
I had just been selected as he who should throw all
The rest in the shade, by the gracious bestowal
On myself, after twenty or thirty rejections,
Of those fossil remains which she called "her affections."
So we were engaged. Our troth had been plighted,
Not by moonbeam, nor star beam, by fountain or grove,
But in a front parlor, most brilliantly lighted,
Beneath the gas fixtures we whispered our love.
Without any romance, or raptures, or sighs,
Without any tears in Miss Flora's blue eyes;
Or blushes, or transports, or such silly actions,
It was one of the quietest business transactions;
With a very small sprinkling of sentiment, if any,
And a very large diamond, imported by Tiffany.

Well, having thus wooed Miss M'Flimsey and gained her,
With the silks, crinolines, and hoops that contained her,
I had, as I thought, a contingent remainder
At least in the property, and the best right
To appear as its escort by day and by night;
And it being the week of the Stuckups' grand ball
Their cards had been out a fortnight or so,
And set all the Avenue on the tiptoe
I considered it only my duty to call
And see if Miss Flora intended to go.
I found her - as ladies are apt to be found,
When the time intervening between the first sound
Of the bell and the visitor's entry is shorter
Than usual--I found (I won't say, I caught) her
Intent on the pier glass, undoubtedly meaning
To see if, perhaps, it didn't need cleaning.
She turned, as I entered--" Why, Harry, you sinner,
I thought that you went to the Flashers' to dinner! "
"So I did," I replied; "but the dinner is swallowed
And digested, I trust, for 'tis now nine and more;
So being relieved from that duty, I followed
Inclination, which led me, you see, to your door.
And now, will your ladyship so condescend
As just to inform me if you intend
Your beauty, and graces, and presence to lend
(All which, when I own, I hope no one will borrow)
To the Stuckups', whose party, you know, is to-morrow?"
The fair Flora looked up with a pitiful air,
And answered quite promptly, "Why, Harry, mon cher,
I should like above all things to go with you there;
But really and truly - I've nothing to wear!"
" Nothing to wear! Go just as you are:
Wear the dress you have on, and you'll be by far,
I engage, the most bright and particular star
On the Stuckup horizon." She turned up her nose
(That pure Grecian feature), as much as to say,
"How absurd that any sane man should suppose
That a lady would go to a ball in the clothes,
No matter how fine, that she wears every day! "
So I ventured again--"Wear your crimson brocade."
(Second turn up of nose)--"That's too dark by a shade."
" Your blue silk" --" That's too heavy;" " Your pink" -- "That's too light."
"Wear tulle over satin"-- "I can't endure white."
" Your rose-colored then the best of the batch,"
"I haven't a thread of point lace to match.
" Your brown moire-antique" -- " Yes, and look like a Quaker:"
"The pearl-colored," --" I would, but that plaguy dressmaker
Has had it a week." "Then that exquisIte lilac,
In which you would melt the heart of a Shylock"
(Here the nose took again the same elevation)--
" I wouldn't wear that for the whole of creation."
" Why not? It's my fancy, there's nothing could strike it
As more comme il faut --" " Yes, but, dear me, that lean
Sophronia Stuckup has got one just like it,
And I won't appear dressed like a chit of sixteen;"
"Then that splendid purple, that sweet mazarine;
That superb point d'aguille, that imperial green,
That zephyr-like tarlatan, that rich grenadine"
"Not one of all which is fit to be seen,"
Said the lady, becoming excited and flushed.
"Then wear," I exclaimed in a tone which quite crushed
Opposition, "that gorgeous toilet, which you sported
In Paris last spring, at the grand presentation,
When you quite turned the head of the head of the nation,
And by all the grand court were so very much courted."
The end of the nose was portentously turned up,
And both the bright eyes shot forth indignation,
As she burst upon me with the fierce exclamation,
"I have worn it three times at the least calculation,
And that, and the most of my dresses, are ripped up!"
Here I ripped out something, perhaps rather rash,
Quite innocent, though; but, to use an expression
More striking than classic, it "settled my hash,"
And proved very soon the last act of our session.
"Fiddlesticks, is it, sir? I wonder the ceiling
Doesn't fall down and crush you. Oh! you men have no feeling
You selfish, unnatural, illiberal creatures!
Who set yourselves up as patterns and preachers,
Your silly pretense--why, what a mere guess it is!
Pray, what do you know of a woman's necessities?
I have told you and shown you I've nothing to wear,
And it's perfectly plain you not only don't care,
But you do not believe me" (here the nose went still higher),
"I suppose if you dared, you would call me a liar.
Our engagement is ended, sir--yes, on the spot;
You're a brute and a monster, and--I don't know what."
I mildly suggested the words -- Hottentot,
Pickpocket, and cannibal, Tartar and thief,
As gentle expletives which might give relief;
But this only proved as spark to the powder,
And the storm I had raised came faster and louder;
It blew, and it rained, thundered, lightened, and hailed
Interjections, verbs, pronouns, till language quite failed,
To express the abusive; and then its arrears
Were brought up all at once by a torrent of tears;
And my last faint, despairing attempt at an obs
Ervation was lost, in a tempest of sobs.
Well, I felt for the lady, and felt for my hat too.
Improvised on the crown of the latter a tattoo,
In lieu of expressing the feelings which lay
Quite too deep for words, as Wordsworth would say;
Then, without going through the form of a bow,
Found myself in the entry--I hardly knew how--
On doorstep and sidewalk, past lamp-post and square,
At home and upstairs in my own easy chair;
Poked my feet into slippers, my fire into blaze,
And said to myself, as I lit my cigar,
Supposing a man had the wealth of the czar
Of the Russias to boot, for the rest of his days,
On the whole, do you think he would have much to spare,
If he married a woman with nothing to wear?

Since that night, taking pains that it should not be bruited
Abroad in society, I've instituted
A course of inquiry, extensive and thorough,
On this vital subject; and find, to my horror,
That the fair Flora's case is by no means surprising,
But that there exists the greatest distress
In our female community, solely arising
From this unsupplied destitution of dress,
Whose unfortunate victims are filling the air
With the pitiful wail of "Nothing to wear!"

Oh! ladies, dear ladies, the next time you meet,
Please trundle your hoops just outside Regent Street,
From its whirl and its bustle, its fashion and pride,
And the temples of trade which tower on each side,
To the alleys and lanes where misfortune and guilt
Their children have gathered, their city have built;
Where hunger and vice, like twin beasts of prey,
Have hunted their victims to gloom and despair;
Raise the rich, dainty dress, and the fine broidered skirt,
Pick your delicate way through the dampness and dirt,
Grope through the dark dens, climb the rickety stair
To the garret, where wretches, the young and the old,
Half starved and half naked, lie crouched from the cold,
See those skeleton limbs, those frost-bitten feet,
All bleeding and bruised by the stones of the street;
Hear the sharp cry of childhood, the deep groans that swell
From the poor dying creature who writhes on the floor;
Hear the curses that sound like the echoes of hell,
As you sicken and shudder and fly from the door!
Then home to your wardrobes, and say, if you dare--
Spoiled children of Fashion -- you've nothing to wear!

And, oh! if perchance there should be a sphere,
Where all is made right which so puzzles us here,
Where the glare and the glitter, and tinsel of time
Fade and die in the light of that region sublime,
Where the soul, disenchanted of flesh and of sense,
Unscreened by its trappings, and shows, and pretense,
Must be clothed for the life and the service above
With purity, truth, faith, meekness, and love;
Oh! daughters of earth! foolish virgins, beware!
Lest in that upper realm you have nothing to wear!






THE MORTGAGE

By WILL M. CARLETON (1845 - 1912 )

WE worked through spring and winter -- through summer and through fall
But the mortgage worked the hardest and the steadiest of us all;
It worked on nights and Sundays -- it worked each holiday
It settled down among us, and it never went away.
Whatever we kept from it seemed a'most as bad as theft;
It watched us every minute, and it ruled us right and left.
The rust and blight were with us sometimes, and sometimes not;
The dark-browed, scowling mortgage was forever on the spot.
The weevil and the cutworm, they went as well as came;
The mortgage stayed forever, eating hearty all the same.
It nailed up every window -- stood guard at every door
And happiness and sunshine made their home with us no more.
Till with failing crops and sickness we got stalled upon the grade,
And there came a dark day on us when the interest wasn't paid;
And, there came a sharp foreclosure, and I kind 0' lost my hold,
And grew weary and discouraged, and the farm was cheaply sold.
The children left and scattered when they hardly yet were grown;
My wife she pined an' perished, an' I found myself alone.

What she died of was "a mystery," an' the doctors never knew;
But I knew she died of mortgage --just as well's I wanted to.
If to trace a hidden sorrow were within the dootors' art,
They'd ha' found a mortgage lying on that woman's broken heart.
Worm or beetle -- drought or tempest -- on a farmer's land may fall;
But for first-class ruination, trust a mortgage 'gainst them all.






FLOWERS OF EVIL

( Fleurs du mal )

By CHARLES BAUDELAIRE ( 1821-1867 )

I

I ADORE thee as much as the vaults of night,
0 vase full of grief, taciturnity great,
And I love thee the more because of thy flight.
It seemeth, my night's beautifier, that you
Still heap up those leagues - yes! ironically heap!
That divide from my arms the immensity blue.

I advance to attack, I climb to assault,
Like a choir of young worms at a corpse in the vault;
Thy coldness, oh cruel, implacable beast!
Yet heightens thy beauty, on which my eyes feast!

II

Two warriors come running, to fight they begin,
With gleaming and blood they bespatter the air;
These games, and this clatter of arms, is the din
Of youth that's a prey to the surgings of love.

The rapiers are broken! and so is our youth,
But the dagger's avenged, dear! and so is the sword,
By the nail that is steeled and the hardened tooth.
Oh, the fury of hearts aged and ulcered by love!

In the ditch, where the ounce and the pard have their lair,
Our heroes have rolled in an angry embrace;
Their skin blooms on brambles that erewhile were bare.
That ravine is a fiend-inhabited hell!
Then let us roll in, oh woman inhuman,
To immortalize hatred that nothing can quell!






LIGHT

By FRANCIS W. BOURDILLON ( born 1852 )

THE night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one:
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When its day is done.






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