Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

To him who, deadly hurt, agen

Flashed on afore the charge's thunder, Tippin' with fire the bolt of men

Thet rived the Rebel line asunder? 'Ta'n't right to hev the young go fust,

All throbbin' full o'gifts an' graces, Leavin' life's paupers dry ez dust

To try an' make b'lieve fill their places : Nothin' but tells us wut we miss,

There's gaps our lives can't never fay in, An' thet world seems so fur from this

Lef' for us loafers to grow grey in ! My eyes cloud up for rain ; my mouth

Will take to twitchin' roun' the corners; I pity mothers, tu, down South,

For all they sot among the scorners : I'd sooner take my chance to stan'

At Jedgment where your meanest slave is Than at God's bar hol' up a han'

Ez drippin' red ez your'n, Jeff Davis ! Come, Peace! not like a mourner bowed

For honour lost an' dear ones wasted, But proud, to meet a people proud,

With eyes that tell o triumph tasted ! Come, with han' grippin' on the hilt,

An' step that proves ye Victory's daughter ! Longin' for you, our sperits wilt

Like shipwreckod men's on raf's for water! Come, while our country feels the lift

Of a gret instinct shoutin' forwards, An' knows thet freedom a'n't a gift

Thet tarries long in han's o' cowards! Come, sech ez mothers prayed for when

They kissed their cross with lips thet quivered, An' bring fair wages for brave men,

A nation saved, a race deliveredi..

WALT WHITMAN. (Born on 31st May 1819, at West Hills, Long Island, in the State of New York, Mr. Whitman appears to me to be by far the greatest poet that America has produced, and great among the poets of any age or country. This, however, would not be an apposite place in which to enlarge upon his

powers or his career, and I shall therefore confine myself to a few words regarding his relation to the Humorous in poetry. In this respect there is little to be said, save in a negative sense : the only piece of his that can in any way be termed humorous is the one here extracted, and even this has more of a grim grotesque suggestiveness than of humour properly so called. In fact, the absence of humour from the writings of Whitman-treating as he does of every possible aspect of life, work, scene, and association, in Americais a noticeable point, and may even be said to argue one limitation in his enormously capacious and sympathetic mind, and in his faculty for expressing the actualities (to which in other regards he is so intensely responsive) of modern life. And it may be added that the Americans generally-- whether writers or others-have a peculiar readiness in seizing, and in realizing in words, anything amenable to the faculties of humour, wit, or perhaps more especially) whimn and ridicule. The reason for Whitman's deficiency may be that to him nothing is “common or unclean. Accepting as he does every fact of life and of circumstance, oddity is not to him so odd as to be worth “showing up from that point of view, nor absurdity deserving of castigation or introspection, but simply of notice and appraisement: he observes these among a myriad of other phenomena, understands them for what they are worth to him, and passes. He does not turn-on (if I may use such an expression) any special part of his mind to take cognizance of these special qualities and appearances in man: but he rates them, along with all other matériel, by his perceptive power as a whole. They have their place in the show, and he has his place as spectator of it, and does not care to change that place for the sake of observing these particulars more closely, or with a greater amount of either fellow-feeling or distaste. Whatever may be the true explanation of the want of humorous turn in Whitman, this deficiency is, I think, one of the reasons why his writings raise so much dislike and opposition. He says a number of things that people consider out-of-the-way; and, finding that he either does not consider them out-of-the-way at all, or has not a humorous relish for them as such, readers detect a certain lack of rapprochement between the author and themselves, and resent it accordingly].

[ocr errors]

A BOSTON BALLAD.

(1854). To get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early ; Here's a good place at the corner-I must stand and see the show. Clear the way there, Jonathan ! Way for the President's marshal! Way for the government cannon ! Way for the Federal foot and dragoons—and the apparitions

copiously tumbling. I love to look on the stars and stripes—I hope the fifes will play

Yankee Doodle.

How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost troops !
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through Boston town.
A fog follows—antiques of the same come limping,
Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear bandaged and

bloodless,

Why this is indeed a show! It has called the dead out of the

earth! The old grave-yards of the hills have hurried to see ! Phantoms! phantoms countless by fank and rear ! Cocked hats of mothy mould ! crutches made of mist ! Arms in slings ! old men leaning on young men's shoulders ! What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is all this chattering

of bare gums? Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you mistake your crutches

for fire-locks, and level them?

If you blind your eyes with tears, you will not see the President's

marshal If you groan such groans, you might balk the government cannon.

[ocr errors]

For shame, old maniacs ! . Bring down those tossed arms, and let

your white hair be ; Here gape your great grand-sons—their wives gaze at them from

the windows, See how well dressed see how orderly they conduct themselves.

Worse and worse! Can't you stand it? Are you retreating ?
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?

Retreat then! Pell-mell !
To your graves! Back ! back to the hills, old limpers !
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.
But there is one thing that belongs here--shall I tell you what

it is, gentlemen of Boston ?

I will whisper it to the Mayor-hé shall send a committee to Eng

land ; They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go with a cart to the

royal vault-haste ! Dig out King George's coffin, unwrap him quick from the grave

clothes, box up his bones for a journey ; Find a swift Yankee clipper-here is freight for you, black-bellied

clipper, Up with your anchor! shake out your sails ! steer straight toward

Boston bay Now call for the President's marshal again, bring out the govern

ment cannon, Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another procession,

guard it with foot and dragoons,

This centre-piece for them :
Look ! all orderly citizens-look from the windows, women!

The committee open the box, set up the regal ribs, glue those that

will not stay, Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a crown on top of the

skull. You have got your revenge, old buster! The crown is come to its

own, and more than its own. Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan-you are a made man

from this day ; You are mighty cute—and here is one of your bargains.

CHARLES G. LELAND. (Born in 1824, of a family which has been settled in America since about 1570, and to which the antiquary John Leland belonged. Our author studied chiefly in Europe, and was a writer of position long before his Breitmann Ballads (the semi-German patois of which is well known in his native Philadelphia) set all sorts of people laughing. Meister Karl's Sketch-book, and The Poetry and Mystery of Dreams, are two of his principal works.]

MANES.

There's a time to be jolly, a time to repent,
A season for folly, a season for Lent.
The first as the worst we too often regard ;
The rest as the best, but our judgment is hard.
There are snows in December and roses in June,
There's darkness at midnight and sunshine at noon :
But, were there no sorrow, no storm-cloud or rain,
Who'd care for the morrow with beauty again?
The world is a picture both gloomy and bright,
And grief is the shadow, and pleasure the light,
And neither should smother the general tone :
For where were the other if either were gone?
The valley is lovely; the mountain is drear,
Its summit is hidden in mist all the year ;
But gaze from the heaven, high over all weather,
And mountain and valley are lovely together.
I have learned to love Lucy, though faded she be ;
If my next love be lovely, the better for me.
By the end of next summer, I'll give you my oath,
It was best, after all, to have flirted with both.
In London or Munich, Vienna, or Rome,
The sage is contented, and finds him a home;
He learns all that is bad, and does all that is good,
And will bite at the apple, by field or by flood.

JOHN HAY.

{Colonel Hay, born towards 1830, is author of Little Breeches, and other Pieces, Humorous, Descriptive, and Pathetic, published a year or two ago. They comprise some noteable specimens of that peculiar American knack of saying things with a twinge (as it were) -- vigorously, unexpectedly, and with a pungency not exactly unpleasant, yet not quite pleasant assuredly).

JIM BLUDSO.
Wal, no ! I can't tell whar he lives,

Because he don't live, you see :
Leastways, he's got out of the habit

Of livin' like you and me.
Whar have you been for the last three years,

That you haven't heard folks tell
llow Jemmy Bludso passed-in his checks,

The night of the Prairie Belle ?

He weren't no saint-them engineers

Is all pretty much alike-
One wife in Natchez-under-the-Hill,

And another one here in Pike.
A keerless man in his talk was Jim,

And an awkward man in a row
But he never flunked, and he never lied ;

I reckon he never knowed how.

And this was all the religion he had

To treat his engine well ;
Never be passed on the river ;

To mind the pilot's bell;
And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire-

A thousand times he swore,
He'd hold her nozzle agin the bank

Till the last soul got ashore.

All boats has their day on the Mississip,

And her day come at last.
The Movastar was a better boat,

But the Belle she wouldn't be passed ;
And so come tearin' along that night,

The oldest craft on the line,
With a nigger squat on her safet; valve,

And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.

The fire bust out as she clared the bar,

And burnt a hole in the night,
And quick as a flash she turned, and made

For that willer-bank on the right,

« ElőzőTovább »