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Appendix IV: Poems

The Old Piano


How still and dusky is the long closed room!

What lingering shadows and what sweet perfume

Of Eastern treasures; sandal-wood and scent,

With nard and cassia, and with roses blent:

Let in the sunshine.

Quaint cabinets are here, boxes and fans,

And hoarded letters full of hopes and plans:

I pass them by—I come once more to see

The old piano, dear to memory;

In past days mine.


Of all sad voices from forgotten years,

It is the saddest. See what tender tears

Drop on the yellow keys! as soft and slow

I play some melody of long ago.

How strange it seems!

The thin, weak notes that once were rich and strong

Give only now, the shadow of a song;

The dying echo of the fuller strain,

That I shall never, never hear again:

Unless in dreams.


What hands have touched it! fingers small and white,

Since cold and weary with life’s toil and strife

Dear clinging hands, that long have been at rest

Folded serenely on a quiet breast.

Only to think

O white sad notes, of all the pleasant days,

The happy songs, the hymns of holy praise,

The dreams of love and youth, that round you cling!

Do they not make each sighing, trembling string

A mighty link?


All its musicians gone beyond recall!

The beautiful, the loved, where are they all?

Each told their secret, touched the keys and wires

To thoughts of many colors and desires,

With whispering fingers:

All now are silent, their last farewells said,

Their last songs sung, their last tears sadly shed;

Yet Love has given it many dreams to keep

In this lone room, where only shadows creep,

And silence lingers.


The old piano answers to my call,

And from my fingers lets the last notes fall.

O Soul that I have loved! With heavenly birth

Wilt thou not keep the memory of earth,

Its smiles and sighs,

Shall wood, and metal, and white ivory,

Answer the touch of love and melody,

And Thou forget? Dear One, not so!

I move thee yet, though how I may not know,

Beyond the skies.




At the Last


Now, poor tired hands, be still,

Toil-stained through Death’s white hue;

No need now for your skill,

No further task to do.

Folded across the breast,

Take calmest rest:

Dead hands no work shall soil—

’Tis living hands that toil.


Now, weary eyes, go sleep;

You shall see no more wrong,

Nor anxious watches keep

For Love that tarries long;

Shall shed no more sad tears

Through all the years.

Fold down your lids and sleep—

’Tis living eyes that weep.


Poor beating heart, now rest;

Sorrow or pain no more

Shall make thee sore distrest;

Thy restless care is o’er.

Go still sweet session keep

Of blissful sleep,

And no more throb and ache—

’Tis living hearts that break.




Help


My hands have often been weary hands,

Too tired to do their daily task;

And just to fold them forevermore

Has seemed the boon that was best to ask.


My feet have often been weary feet,

Too tired to walk another day;

And I’ve thought, “To sit and calmly wait

Is better far than the onward way.”


My eyes with tears have been so dim

That I have said, “I can not mark

The work I do or the way I take,

For every where it is dark—so dark!”


But, oh, thank God! There never has come

That hour that makes the bravest quail:

No matter how weary my feet and hands,

God never has suffered my heart to fail.


So the folded hands take up their work,

And the weary feet pursue their way;

And all is clear when the good heart cries,

“Be brave!—to-morrow’s another day.”




Yellow Jasmine


Do angels come as flowers, O golden stars!

That I can hold within my small white palm?

Or were you dropped from o’er the crystal bars,

Filled with the perfume of celestial psalms?


Why did you come? For fear I should forget?

Nay, but sweet flowers, you would not judge me so.

Are there not memories between us set,

No later love, no future days can know?


Cool bosky woodlands that were jasmine bowers,

With misty haze of bluebells up the glade

Then, had I met an angel pulling flowers,

I had not been astonished or afraid.


Beautiful children, innocent and bright,

O Golden Jasmine! for Love kissing you

I see them yet, with hair like braided light,

And eyes like purple pansies, wet with dew.


Could I have known, could I have but foreseen

How near the pearly gates their feet had won,

How had I clasped those hands my hands between—

Those tiny hands, whose little work is done.


Calm graves, lapped in sweet grasses, cool and deep,

Where soft winds sing and whisper through all hours:

O starry flowers, for me Love’s vigil keep,

With scent and shadow and sweet-dropping flowers.




My Little Brown Pipe


I have a little comforter

I carry in my pocket;

It is not any woman’s face

Set in a golden locket;

It is not any kind of purse,

It is not book or letter,

But yet at times, I really think,

That it is something better.


Oh! my pipe! My little brown pipe!

How oft at morning early,

When vexed with thoughts of coming toil

And just a little surly,

I sit with thee till things get clear,

And all my plans grow steady,

And I can face the strife of life

With all my senses ready.


No matter if my temper stands

At stormy, fair, or clearing,

My pipe has not for any mood

A word of angry sneering.

I always find it just the same

In care, or joy, or sorrow,

And what it is to-day, I know

It’s sure to be to-morrow.


It helps me through the stress of life,

It balances my losses;

It adds a charm to household joys,

And lightens household crosses.

For through its wreathing, misty veil

Joy has a softer splendor,

And life grows sweetly possible,

And love more truly tender.


Oh! I have many richer joys!

I do not underrate them,

And every man knows what I mean,

I do not need to state them.

But this I say: I’d rather miss

A deal of what’s called pleasure,

Than lose my little comforter,

My little smoky treasure!




The Farmer


The king may rule o’er land and sea,

The lord may live right royally,

The soldier ride in pomp and pride,

The sailor roam o’er ocean wide;

But this or that, whate’er befall,

The farmer he must feed them all.


The writer thinks, the poet sings,

The craftsmen fashion wondrous things,

The doctor heals, the lawyer pleads,

The miner follows the precious leads;

But this or that, whate’er befall,

The farmer he must feed them all.


The merchant he may buy and sell,

The teacher do his duty well;

But men may toil through busy days,

Or men may stroll through pleasant ways;

From king to beggar, whate’er befall,

The farmer he must feed them all.


The farmer’s trade is one of worth;

He’s partner with the sky and earth,

He’s partner with the sun and rain,

And no man loses for his gain;

And men may rise, or men may fall,

But the farmer he must feed them all.


God bless the man who sows the wheat,

Who finds us milk and fruit and meat;

May his purse be heavy, his heart be light,

His cattle and corn and all go right;

God bless the seeds his hands let fall,

For the farmer he must feed us all.




Comrades


There’s a blacksmith works not far away,

He is brawny and strong and tall;

He’s at his forge when the shadows lift,

And he’s there till the shadows fall.

Just when I leave the land of dreams,

I can hear his hammer bang,

As he beats the red hot iron bar,

With a cling, clang, clang; cling, clang.


His smithy is dirty and dark enough,

And he is dirty and glum;

When a man is beating iron bars,

What can he be but dumb?

And there you may find him hard at work

If the weather be hot or cold;

He says, “There’s some satisfaction, Ma’am,

In beating iron to gold.”


Now, I am a mite of womankind,

I am neither tall nor strong;

I can only read, and dream, and think,

And put my thought into song.

But I smile at the mighty giant

Beating his iron so bold;

And think of a slender little pen

Turning my thought into gold.


I sit in my room so bright and warm,

And my tiny tool I lift,

“The battle is not unto the strong,

Nor the race unto the swift.”

But the hammer shall never cease to beat,

And the song shall never fail,

Be busy, O pen! And blacksmith brave,

Beat rivet, and shoe, and nail.


The world has need of us both I trow:

The giant so strong and tall

And the woman who only has a thought

They are comrades after all.

So, brother, be busy, I would hear

Thy hammering all day long;

The world is glad for the anvil’s ring,

And glad for the Singer’s song.




Amelia E. Barr