Page images
PDF
EPUB

REALITY.

How curious! how real!
Under foot the divine soil, overhead the sun.

Starting from Paumanok.

EVANGEL-POEM.

I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and of love.

- Ibid. RELIGION.

I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough, None has ever yet adored or worship'd half enough, None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and how certain the future is.

- Ibid. DEATH. And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death.

- Ibid. INDOLENCE.

I loaf and invite my soul, I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

Song of Myself.

Press close bare-bosom'd night - press close mag

netic nourishing night! Night of south winds — night of the large few

stars! Still nodding night-mad naked summer night.

- lbid. EARTH. Smile O voluptuous cool-breath'd earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees! Earth of departed sunset - earth of the mountains

misty-topt! Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just

tinged with blue! Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the

river! Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and

clearer for my sake! Far-swooping elbow'd earth – rich apple-blossom'd

earth! Smile, for your lover comes.

Ibid. FAITH. I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey

work of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of

sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree-toad is a chef-d'æuvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the par

lors of heaven, And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn

all machinery, And the cow crunching with depress'd head sur.

passes any statue, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

- Ibid. ANIMALS. I think I could turn and live with animals, they are

so placid and self-contain'd, I stand and look at ihem long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for

their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to

GRASS.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of

hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly

dropt, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,

that we may see and remark, and say Whose ?

- Ibid. FAILURE. Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the

same spirit in which they are won. I beat and pound for the dead, I blow through my embouchures my loudest and

gayest for them. Vivas to those who have fail'd! And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And to all generals that lost engagements, and all

overcome heroes! And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known!

- Ibid. NIGHT. I am he that walks with the tender and growing

night, I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.

God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with

the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that

lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

- Ibiú, SYMPATHY. I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the

soul,

LABOR.

And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's

self is, And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.

-Ibid. INDIFFERENCE. Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one he lov'd might secretly be indifferent to him.

- Recorders Ages Hence.

After all not to create only, or found only,
But to bring perhaps from afar what is already

founded, To give it our own identity, average, limitless, free, To fill the gross the torpid bulk with vital religious

fire, Not to repel or destroy so much as accept, fuse,

rehabilitate, To obey as well as command, to follow more than

to lead, These also are the lessons of our New World; While how little the New after all, how much the Old, Old World!

- Song of the Exposition.

OPEN ROAD.

[ocr errors]

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever

I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am

good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more,

need nothing, Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous

criticism, Strong and content I travel the open road.

- Song of the Open Road.

DIVINITY. We consider bibles and religions divine — I do not

say they are not divine, I say they have all grown out of you, and may

grow out of you still, It is not they who give the life, it is you who give

the life, Leaves are not more shed from the trees, or trees from the earth, than they are shed out of you.

-A Song for Occupations.

WISDOM.

Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof,

is its own proof, Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and

is content, Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of

things, and the excellence of things; Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

- Ibid.

LIFE, The same old role, the role that is what we make

it, as great as we like, Or as small as we like, or both great and small.

- Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.

SELF. Each man to himself and each woman to herself,

is the word of the past and present, and the

true word of immortality; No one can acquire for another - not one, No one can grow for another not one. The song is to the singer, and comes back most to

him, The teaching is to the teacher, and comes back

most to him, The murder is to the murderer, and comes back

most to him, The theft is to the thief, and comes back most to

him, The love is to the lover, and comes back most to

MAN.

A man is a summons and challenge.

- Song of the Answerer.

him,

POETRY.

The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to

him — it cannot fail, The oration is to the orator, the acting is to the

actor and actress not to the audience, And no man understands any greatness or good

ness but his own, or the indication of his

[ocr errors]

All this time and at all times wait the words of true

poems, The words of true poems do not merely please, The true poets are not followers of beauty but the

august masters of beauty; The greatness of sons is the exuding of the great

ness of mothers and fathers, The words of true poems are the tuft and final applause of science.

-Ibid.

-A Song of the Rolling Earth.

SHORE. Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways.

-As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life,

SIN.

ANNA KATHARINE GREEN.

O sight of pity, shame and dole!
O fearful thought-a convict soul.

- The Singer in the Prison.

[ocr errors]

SIN.

You felons on trial in courts,
You convicts in prison-cells, you sentenced assassins

chain'd and handcuff'd with iron, Who am I too that I am not on trial or in prison? Me ruthless and devilish as any, that my wrists are not chain'd with iron, or my ankles with iron?

- You Felons on Trial in Courts.

AMERICA,

[ocr errors]

Lo, where arise three peerless stars,
To be thy natal stars my country, Ensemble, Evolu-

tion, Freedom, Set in the sky of Law.

- Thou Mother with Thy Equal Brood.

LOVE.

Blow again trumpeter! and for thy theme,
Take now the enclosing theme of all, the solvent

and the setting,
Love, that is pulse of all, the sustenance and the

pang, The heart of man and woman all for love, No other theme but love -- knitting, enclosing, all

diffusing love. O how the immortal phantoms crowd around me! I see the vast alembic ever working, I see and

know the flames that heat the world, The glow, the blush, the beating hearts of lovers, So blissful happy some, and some so silent, dark,

and nigh to death; Love, that is all the earth to lovers — love, that

mocks time and space, Love, that is day and night - love, that is sun and

moon and stars, Love, that is crimson, sumptuous, sick with

perfume, No other words but words of love, no other thought but love.

The Mystic Trumpeter.

O covet distinction in a chosen field of labor and

actually to achieve it in a wholly different direction has been the destiny of many artists. Fame, sought earnestly, but in vain, upon some highway of thought, has sprung laughing from a hidden bypath and beguiled the searcher into other walks. Too frequently, perhaps, such unexpected success has contented its winner, yet often the more solid architecture, built along these other paths, has failed to replace the old-time castles in Spain, and the reputation won in unchosen fields has never quenched the earlier ambition. Such is the truth concerning Anna Katharine Green, the subject of this sketch.

Born in Brooklyn, N. Y., under the very shadow of Plymouth Church, the literary instinct manifested itself in the girl at a tender age. After the removal of the family to Buffalo, N. Y., when she was a mere child, she would walk the streets alone and recite to herself stories and verses of her own contriving. These scattering essays of childhood soon developed into a definite ambition, and that ambition became the purpose of her life. She knew that she was a poet, and burned to convince the world of it. The girl wrote many verses, but pub. lished few, if any. Three years were passed at Ripley Female College, Poultney, Vt.

Some time after her matriculation at Ripley Miss Green published her first work. It was not a poem but a novel, the germ of which had been in her mind since her eleventh year. “ The Leavenworth Case" won instant and widespread attention, and the youthful authoress suddenly found herself famed for a kind of work very different from that toward which she was drawn so strongly. The incessant demands upon her pen which followed this early success left little time for poetic leisure, and her thoughts were almost wholly excluded from the mental atmosphere in which poesy thrives. Exceptin a limited circle the young authoress became known only as a prose-writer. Yet, before she printed her first tale, Anna Katharine Green had justified her controlling ambition by writing all the verse which now forms the two small volumes of her published poetry. It waited till her work in prose had made her famous to seek the higher fame for which its author yearned.

The first volume of Miss Green's verse, “ The Defense of the Bride, and other Poems," was published in 1882. The second, a drama entitled “Risifi's Daughter," appeared five years later. None who read these productions, or even the selections from them which accompany this notice will deny for a moment that her patient hope was justifiable.

The poetry of Anna Katharine Green combines strength, directness and dramatic interest, with

LIFE AND DEATH.

The two old, simple problems ever intertwined,
Close home, elusive, present, baffled, grappled.
By each successive age insoluble, pass'd on,
To ours to-day- and we pass on the same.

- Sands al Seventy

tender pathos, in a wholesome atmosphere of artistic truth. Never overburdened with imagery, her lines are graced by striking simile and delicate fancy. We are not annoyed by affected juggling with words, or by straining after strange effects in rhythm. Yet Miss Green is happy in her rhythmic changes, which always swing in unison with the motive of the moment. Miss Green's genius is objective rather than subjective. She especially delights in legendary themes of a bold and striking nature. Such pieces as “ The Defense of the Bride," “ The Tower of Bouverie," A Tragedy of Sedan," “The Confession of the King's Musketeer," and “ The Barricade" are examples of this, in which the author's dramatic art and skill in narration are at their best. The first two vie with each other in interest and power, and stand equally at the head of this part of the poet's work. The easily flowing measures of The Defense of the Bride” are in striking contrast to the brief, bold lines of “ Bouverie "; but there is in both a spirit and vividness that place them high among productions of this sort. Few women deal with such themes in so masculine a way, yet few men can impart the delicate trace of womanliness that is not their least charm. On the other hand Miss Green vies with herself in the thoughtful, tender sentiment that breathes in every stanza of “ Premonition," “Shadows," At the Piano," and "Separated.” In “ Risifi's Daughter' the author has adapted her story-telling talents to the requirements of dramatic form in blank verse with remarkable success. The narrative itself is powerful, and Miss Green has succeeded admirably in making her characters develop it clearly by what they do and say. This without sacrificing the truly poetic movement of her lines. The richness of Miss Green's poetry for purposes of quotation is remarkable. Her stanzas breathe the breath of life; and, perhaps all the more surely because slowly, they will occupy a worthy place among the writings of American poets.

The first sojourn of Miss Green's family in Buffalo was only for a few years, the home for most of her life being Brooklyn, where all her literary work was done until she went to the former city to establish a home of her own. Miss Green was married on November 25, 1884, to Mr. Charles Rohlfs, a gentleman, who, beginning life on the stage under the old stock-company regime, and afterward acting as leading support to such eminent tragedians as Edwin Booth and Lawrence Barrett, quit the stage, and the dramatic future which seemed to lie before him, to devote himself to the congenial home-life which the nomadic life of the profession at the present time almost precludes. At their pleasant home in Buffalo, brightened by two charming little ones, Mr. and Mrs. Rohlfs enjoy the warm friendships which two years of life in that city have formed.

A. G. B.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE DEFENSE OF THE BRIDE.

He was coming from the altar when the tocsin

rang alarm, With his fair young wife beside him, lovely in her

bridal charm; But he was not one to palter with a duty, or to

slight The trumpet-call of honor for his vantage or

delight:

Turning from the bride beside him to his stern

and martial train, From their midst he summoned to him the broth

ers of Germain; At the word they stepped before him, nine strong

warriors, brave and true, From the youngest to the eldest, Enguerrand to

mighty Hugh.

“Sons of Germain, to your keeping do I yield my

bride to-day. Guard her well as you do love me; guard her well

and holily. Dearer than mine own soul to me, you will hold

her as your life, 'Gainst the guile of seeming friendship and the

force of open strife."

“We will guard her," cried they firmly; and with

just another glance On the yearning and despairing in his young

wife's countenance, Gallant Beaufort strode before them down the aisle

and through the door, And a shadow came and lingered where the sun.

light stood before.

Eight long months the young wife waited, watch

ing from her bridal room For the coming of her husband up the valley for

est's gloom. Eight long months the sons of Germain paced the

ramparts and the wall, With their hands upon their halberds, ready for

the battle-call.

Then there came the sound of trumpets pealing up

the vale below, And a dozen floating banners lit the forest with

their glow, And the bride arose like morning, when it feels the

sunlight nigh, And her smile was like a rainbow flashing from a

misty sky.

« PreviousContinue »