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Out of Egypt

by Horatio Alger, Jr.
To Egypt’s king, who ruled beside
  The reedy river’s flow,
Came God’s command, “Release, O king,
  And let my people go.”

The king’s proud heart grew hard apace;
  He marked the suppliant throng,
And said, “Nay, they must here abide;
  The weak must serve the strong.”

Straightway the Lord stretched forth his hand,
  And every stream ran blood;
The river swept towards the sea–
  A full ensanguined flood.

The haughty king beheld the land,
  By plagues afflicted sore,
But, as God’s wonders multiplied,
  Hardened his heart the more;

Until the angel of the Lord
  Came on the wings of Night,
And smote first-born of man and beast,
  In his destructive flight.

Throughout all Egypt, not a house
  Was spared this crowning woe.
Then broke the tyrant’s stubborn will;
  He bade the people go.

They gathered up their flocks and herds,
  Rejoicing to be free;
And, going forth, a mighty host,
  Encamped beside the sea.

Then Pharaoh’s heart repented him;
  He called a mighty force,
And swiftly followed on their track,
  With chariot and with horse.

Then Israel’s host were sore afraid;
  But God was on their side,
And, lo! for them a way is cleft,
  The Red-sea waves divide.

At God’s command the restless waves
  Obey the prophet’s rod;
And, through the middle of the sea,
  The people marched dry-shod.

But, when the spoilers, following close,
  Would hinder Israel’s flight,
The waters to their course return,
  The parted waves unite,

And Pharaoh’s host is swept away,
  The chariots and the horse;
And not a man is left alive
  Of all that mighty force.

So in these days God looks from heaven,
  And marks his servants’ woe;
Hear ye his voice: “Break every yoke,
  And let my people go!”

For them the Red-sea waves divide,
  The streams with crimson flow;
Therefore we mourn for our first-born;–
  Then let the people go.

They are not weak whom God befriends,
  He makes their cause His own;
And they who fight against God’s might
  Shall surely be o’erthrown.

To a Child Reading

by Edward Doyle

  My darling, spell the words out. You may creep
    Across the syllables on hands and knees,
    And stumble often, yet pass me with ease
  And reach the spring upon the summit steep.
  Oh, I could lay me down, dear child, and weep
    These charr’d orbs out, but that you then might cease
    Your upward effort, and with inquiries
  Stoop down and probe my heart too deep, too deep!
  I thirst for Knowledge. Oh, for an endless drink
    Your goblet leaks the whole way from the spring–
  No matter, to its rim a few drops cling,
  And these refresh me with the joy to think
    That you, my darling, have the morning’s wing
  To cross the mountain at whose base I sink.

They Told Me

by Walter de la Mare
They told me Pan was dead, but I
  Oft marvelled who it was that sang
Down the green valleys languidly
  Where the grey elder-thickets hang.

Sometimes I thought it was a bird
  My soul had charged with sorcery;
Sometimes it seemed my own heart heard
  Inland the sorrow of the sea.

But even where the primrose sets
  The seal of her pale loveliness,
I found amid the violets
  Tears of an antique bitterness.

Armies in the Fire

by
Robert Louis Stevenson

The lamps now glitter down the street;
Faintly sound the falling feet
And the blue even slowly falls
About the garden trees and walls.

Now in the falling of the gloom
The red fire paints the empty room;
And warmly on the roof it looks,
And flickers on the backs of books.

Armies march by tower and spire
Of cities blazing, in the fire;–
Till as I gaze with staring eyes,
The armies fade, the lustre dies.

Then once again the glow returns;
Again the phantom city burns;
And down the red-hot valley, lo!
The phantom armies marching go!

Blinking embers, tell me true
Where are those armies marching to,
And what the burning city is
That crumbles in your furnaces!

In Vain

by Emily Dickinson
I CANNOT live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf

The sexton keeps the key to,
Putting up
Our life, his porcelain,
Like a cup

Discarded of the housewife,
Quaint or broken;
A newer Sevres pleases,
Old ones crack.

I could not die with you,
For one must wait
To shut the other’s gaze down, –
You could not.

And I, could I stand by
And see you freeze,
Without my right of frost,
Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise with you,
Because your face
Would put out Jesus’,
That new grace

Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye,
Except that you, than he
Shone closer by.

They’d judge us — how?
For you served Heaven, you know,
Or sought to;
I could not,

Because you saturated sight,
And I had no more eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise.

And were you lost, I would be,
Though my name
Rang loudest
On the heavenly fame.

And were you saved,
And I condemned to be
Where you were not,
That self were hell to me.

So we must keep apart,
You there, I here,
With just the door ajar
That oceans are,
And prayer,
And that pale sustenance,
Despair!

First Epistle to Cavie, A Brother Poet

by Robert Burns
I.

    While winds frae aff Ben-Lomond blaw,
    And bar the doors wi’ driving snaw,
      And hing us owre the ingle,
    I set me down to pass the time,
    And spin a verse or twa o’ rhyme,
      In hamely westlin jingle.
    While frosty winds blaw in the drift,
      Ben to the chimla lug,
    I grudge a wee the great folks’ gift,
      That live sae bien an’ snug:
        I tent less and want less
          Their roomy fire-side;
        But hanker and canker
          To see their cursed pride.

II.

    It’s hardly in a body’s power
    To keep, at times, frae being sour,
      To see how things are shar’d;
    How best o’ chiels are whiles in want.
    While coofs on countless thousands rant,
      And ken na how to wair’t;
    But Davie, lad, ne’er fash your head,
      Tho’ we hae little gear,
    We’re fit to win our daily bread,
      As lang’s we’re hale and fier:
        “Muir spier na, nor fear na,”
          Auld age ne’er mind a feg,
        The last o’t, the warst o’t,
          Is only but to beg.

III.

    To lie in kilns and barns at e’en
    When banes are craz’d, and bluid is thin,
      Is, doubtless, great distress!
    Yet then content could make us blest;
    Ev’n then, sometimes we’d snatch a taste
      O’ truest happiness.
    The honest heart that’s free frae a’
      Intended fraud or guile,
    However Fortune kick the ba’,
      Has ay some cause to smile:
        And mind still, you’ll find still,
          A comfort this nae sma’;
        Nae mair then, we’ll care then,
          Nae farther we can fa’.

IV.

    What tho’, like commoners of air,
    We wander out we know not where,
      But either house or hall?
    Yet nature’s charms, the hills and woods,
    The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,
      Are free alike to all.
    In days when daisies deck the ground,
      And blackbirds whistle clear,
    With honest joy our hearts will bound
      To see the coming year:
        On braes when we please, then,
          We’ll sit and sowth a tune;
        Syne rhyme till’t we’ll time till’t,
          And sing’t when we hae done.

V.

    It’s no in titles nor in rank;
    It’s no in wealth like Lon’on bank,
      To purchase peace and rest;
    It’s no in makin muckle mair;
    It’s no in books, it’s no in lear,
      To make us truly blest;
    If happiness hae not her seat
      And centre in the breast,
    We may be wise, or rich, or great,
      But never can be blest:
        Nae treasures, nor pleasures,
          Could make us happy lang;
        The heart ay’s the part ay
          That makes us right or wrang.

VI.

    Think ye, that sic as you and I,
    Wha drudge and drive thro’ wet an’ dry,
      Wi’ never-ceasing toil;
    Think ye, are we less blest than they,
    Wha scarcely tent us in their way,
      As hardly worth their while?
    Alas! how aft, in haughty mood
      God’s creatures they oppress!
    Or else, neglecting a’ that’s guid,
      They riot in excess!
        Baith careless and fearless
          Of either heaven or hell!
        Esteeming and deeming
          It’s a’ an idle tale!

VII.

    Then let us cheerfu’ acquiesce;
    Nor make one scanty pleasures less,
      By pining at our state;
    And, even should misfortunes come,
    I, here wha sit, hae met wi’ some,
      An’s thankfu’ for them yet.
    They gie the wit of age to youth;
      They let us ken oursel’;
    They make us see the naked truth,
      The real guid and ill.
        Tho’ losses, and crosses,
          Be lessons right severe,
        There’s wit there, ye’ll get there,
          Ye’ll find nae other where.

VIII.

    But tent me, Davie, ace o’ hearts!
    (To say aught less wad wrang the cartes,
      And flatt’ry I detest,)
    This life has joys for you and I;
    And joys that riches ne’er could buy:
      And joys the very best.
    There’s a’ the pleasures o’ the heart,
      The lover an’ the frien’;
    Ye hae your Meg your dearest part,
      And I my darling Jean!
        It warms me, it charms me,
          To mention but her name:
        It heats me, it beets me,
          And sets me a’ on flame!

IX.

    O, all ye pow’rs who rule above!
    O, Thou, whose very self art love!
      Thou know’st my words sincere!
    The life-blood streaming thro’ my heart,
    Or my more dear immortal part,
      Is not more fondly dear!
    When heart-corroding care and grief
      Deprive my soul of rest,
    Her dear idea brings relief
      And solace to my breast.
        Thou Being, All-seeing,
          O hear my fervent pray’r!
        Still take her, and make her
          Thy most peculiar care!

X.

    All hail, ye tender feelings dear!
    The smile of love, the friendly tear,
      The sympathetic glow!
    Long since, this world’s thorny ways
    Had number’d out my weary days,
      Had it not been for you!
    Fate still has blest me with a friend,
      In every care and ill;
    And oft a more endearing hand,
      A tie more tender still.
        It lightens, it brightens
          The tenebrific scene,
        To meet with, and greet with
          My Davie or my Jean!

XI.

    O, how that name inspires my style
    The words come skelpin, rank and file,
      Amaist before I ken!
    The ready measure rins as fine,
    As Phoebus and the famous Nine
      Were glowrin owre my pen.
    My spaviet Pegasus will limp,
      ‘Till ance he’s fairly het;
    And then he’ll hilch, and stilt, and jimp,
      An’ rin an unco fit:
        But least then, the beast then
          Should rue this hasty ride,
        I’ll light now, and dight now
          His sweaty, wizen’d hide.

Dawn

by Emily Dickinson

When night is almost done,
And sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the spaces,
It ‘s time to smooth the hair

And get the dimples ready,
And wonder we could care
For that old faded midnight
That frightened but an hour.

Where is My Boy Tonight?

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

When the clouds in the Western sky
  Flush red with the setting sun,–
When the veil of twilight falls,
  And the busy day is done,–
I sit and watch the clouds,
  With their crimson hues alight,
And ponder with anxious heart,
  Oh, where is my boy to-night?

It is just a year to-day
  Since he bade me a gay good-by,
To march where banners float,
  And the deadly missiles fly.
As I marked his martial step
  I felt my color rise
With all a mother’s pride,
  And my heart was in my eyes.

There’s a little room close by,
  Where I often used to creep
In the hush of the summer night
  To watch my boy asleep.
But he who used to rest
  Beneath the spread so white
Is far away from me now,–
  Oh, where is my boy to-night?

Perchance in the gathering night,
  With slow and weary feet,
By the light of Southern stars,
  He paces his lonely beat.
Does he think of the mother’s heart
  That will never cease to yearn,
As only a mother’s can,
  For her absent boy’s return?

Oh, where is my boy to-night?
  I cannot answer where,
But I know, wherever he is,
  He is under our Father’s care.
May He guard, and guide, and bless
  My boy, wherever he be,
And bring him back at length
  To bless and to comfort me.

May God bless all our boys
  By the camp-fire’s ruddy glow,
Or when in the deadly fight
  They front the embattled foe;
And comfort each mother’s heart,
  As she sits in the fading light,
And ponders with anxious heart–
  Oh, where is my boy to-night?

Sonnet to Lake Leman

by Lord Byron

    Rousseau–Voltaire–our Gibbon–and De Stael–
      Leman! these names are worthy of thy shore,
      Thy shore of names like these! wert thou no more,
    Their memory thy remembrance would recall:
    To them thy banks were lovely as to all,
      But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
      Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
    Of human hearts the ruin of a wall
      Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee
    How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel,
      In sweetly gliding o’er thy crystal sea,
    The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal,
      Which of the Heirs of Immortality
    Is proud, and makes the breath of Glory real!

Places of Nestling Green for Poets Made

by John Keats

I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
The air was cooling, and so very still.
That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,
Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems,
Had not yet lost those starry diadems
Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.
The clouds were pure and white as flocks new shorn,
And fresh from the clear brook; sweetly they slept
On the blue fields of heaven, and then there crept
A little noiseless noise among the leaves,
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves:
For not the faintest motion could be seen
Of all the shades that slanted o’er the green.
There was wide wand’ring for the greediest eye,
To peer about upon variety;
Far round the horizon’s crystal air to skim,
And trace the dwindled edgings of its brim;
To picture out the quaint, and curious bending
Of a fresh woodland alley, never ending;
Or by the bowery clefts, and leafy shelves,
Guess were the jaunty streams refresh themselves.
I gazed awhile, and felt as light, and free
As though the fanning wings of Mercury
Had played upon my heels: I was light-hearted,
And many pleasures to my vision started;
So I straightway began to pluck a posey
Of luxuries bright, milky, soft and rosy.

A bush of May flowers with the bees about them;
Ah, sure no tasteful nook would be without them;
And let a lush laburnum oversweep them,
And let long grass grow round the roots to keep them
Moist, cool and green; and shade the violets,
That they may bind the moss in leafy nets.

A filbert hedge with wild briar overtwined,
And clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind
Upon their summer thrones; there too should be
The frequent chequer of a youngling tree,
That with a score of light green brethen shoots
From the quaint mossiness of aged roots:
Round which is heard a spring-head of clear waters
Babbling so wildly of its lovely daughters
The spreading blue bells: it may haply mourn
That such fair clusters should be rudely torn
From their fresh beds, and scattered thoughtlessly
By infant hands, left on the path to die.

Open afresh your round of starry folds,
Ye ardent marigolds!
Dry up the moisture from your golden lids,
For great Apollo bids
That in these days your praises should be sung
On many harps, which he has lately strung;
And when again your dewiness he kisses,
Tell him, I have you in my world of blisses:
So haply when I rove in some far vale,
His mighty voice may come upon the gale.

Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fulgent catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.

Linger awhile upon some bending planks
That lean against a streamlet’s rushy banks,
And watch intently Nature’s gentle doings:
They will be found softer than ring-dove’s cooings.
How silent comes the water round that bend;
Not the minutest whisper does it send
To the o’erhanging sallows: blades of grass
Slowly across the chequer’d shadows pass.
Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach
To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach
A natural sermon o’er their pebbly beds;
Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,
Staying their wavy bodies ‘gainst the streams,
To taste the luxury of sunny beams
Temper’d with coolness. How they ever wrestle
With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle
Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand.
If you but scantily hold out the hand,
That very instant not one will remain;
But turn your eye, and they are there again.
The ripples seem right glad to reach those cresses,
And cool themselves among the em’rald tresses;
The while they cool themselves, they freshness give,
And moisture, that the bowery green may live:
So keeping up an interchange of favours,
Like good men in the truth of their behaviours
Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
From low hung branches; little space they stop;
But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;
Then off at once, as in a wanton freak:
Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings,
Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.
Were I in such a place, I sure should pray
That nought less sweet, might call my thoughts away,
Than the soft rustle of a maiden’s gown
Fanning away the dandelion’s down;
Than the light music of her nimble toes
Patting against the sorrel as she goes.
How she would start, and blush, thus to be caught
Playing in all her innocence of thought.
O let me lead her gently o’er the brook,
Watch her half-smiling lips, and downward look;
O let me for one moment touch her wrist;
Let me one moment to her breathing list;
And as she leaves me may she often turn
Her fair eyes looking through her locks auburne.
What next? A tuft of evening primroses,
O’er which the mind may hover till it dozes;
O’er which it well might take a pleasant sleep,
But that ’tis ever startled by the leap
Of buds into ripe flowers; or by the flitting
Of diverse moths, that aye their rest are quitting;
Or by the moon lifting her silver rim
Above a cloud, and with a gradual swim
Coming into the blue with all her light.
O Maker of sweet poets, dear delight
Of this fair world, and all its gentle livers;
Spangler of clouds, halo of crystal rivers,
Mingler with leaves, and dew and tumbling streams,
Closer of lovely eyes to lovely dreams,
Lover of loneliness, and wandering,
Of upcast eye, and tender pondering!
Thee must I praise above all other glories
That smile us on to tell delightful stories.
For what has made the sage or poet write
But the fair paradise of Nature’s light?
In the calm grandeur of a sober line,
We see the waving of the mountain pine;
And when a tale is beautifully staid,
We feel the safety of a hawthorn glade:
When it is moving on luxurious wings,
The soul is lost in pleasant smotherings:
Fair dewy roses brush against our faces,
And flowering laurels spring from diamond vases;
O’er head we see the jasmine and sweet briar,
And bloomy grapes laughing from green attire;
While at our feet, the voice of crystal bubbles
Charms us at once away from all our troubles:
So that we feel uplifted from the world,
Walking upon the white clouds wreath’d and curl’d.
So felt he, who first told, how Psyche went
On the smooth wind to realms of wonderment;
What Psyche felt, and Love, when their full lips
First touch’d; what amorous, and fondling nips
They gave each other’s cheeks; with all their sighs,
And how they kist each other’s tremulous eyes:
The silver lamp,–the ravishment,–the wonder–
The darkness,–loneliness,–the fearful thunder;
Their woes gone by, and both to heaven upflown,
To bow for gratitude before Jove’s throne.
So did he feel, who pull’d the boughs aside,
That we might look into a forest wide,
To catch a glimpse of Fawns, and Dryades
Coming with softest rustle through the trees;
And garlands woven of flowers wild, and sweet,
Upheld on ivory wrists, or sporting feet:
Telling us how fair, trembling Syrinx fled
Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
Poor nymph,–poor Pan,–how he did weep to find,
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half heard strain,
Full of sweet desolation–balmy pain.

What first inspired a bard of old to sing
Narcissus pining o’er the untainted spring?
In some delicious ramble, he had found
A little space, with boughs all woven round;
And in the midst of all, a clearer pool
Than e’er reflected in its pleasant cool,
The blue sky here, and there, serenely peeping
Through tendril wreaths fantastically creeping.
And on the bank a lonely flower he spied,
A meek and forlorn flower, with naught of pride,
Drooping its beauty o’er the watery clearness,
To woo its own sad image into nearness:
Deaf to light Zephyrus it would not move;
But still would seem to droop, to pine, to love.
So while the Poet stood in this sweet spot,
Some fainter gleamings o’er his fancy shot;
Nor was it long ere he had told the tale
Of young Narcissus, and sad Echo’s bale.

Where had he been, from whose warm head out-flew
That sweetest of all songs, that ever new,
That aye refreshing, pure deliciousness,
Coming ever to bless
The wanderer by moonlight? to him bringing
Shapes from the invisible world, unearthly singing
From out the middle air, from flowery nests,
And from the pillowy silkiness that rests
Full in the speculation of the stars.
Ah! surely he had burst our mortal bars;
Into some wond’rous region he had gone,
To search for thee, divine Endymion!

He was a Poet, sure a lover too,
Who stood on Latmus’ top, what time there blew
Soft breezes from the myrtle vale below;
And brought in faintness solemn, sweet, and slow
A hymn from Dian’s temple; while upswelling,
The incense went to her own starry dwelling.
But though her face was clear as infant’s eyes,
Though she stood smiling o’er the sacrifice,
The Poet wept at her so piteous fate,
Wept that such beauty should be desolate:
So in fine wrath some golden sounds he won,
And gave meek Cynthia her Endymion.

Queen of the wide air; thou most lovely queen
Of all the brightness that mine eyes have seen!
As thou exceedest all things in thy shine,
So every tale, does this sweet tale of thine.
O for three words of honey, that I might
Tell but one wonder of thy bridal night!

Where distant ships do seem to show their keels,
Phoebus awhile delayed his mighty wheels,
And turned to smile upon thy bashful eyes,
Ere he his unseen pomp would solemnize.
The evening weather was so bright, and clear,
That men of health were of unusual cheer;
Stepping like Homer at the trumpet’s call,
Or young Apollo on the pedestal:
And lovely women were as fair and warm,
As Venus looking sideways in alarm.
The breezes were ethereal, and pure,
And crept through half closed lattices to cure
The languid sick; it cool’d their fever’d sleep,
And soothed them into slumbers full and deep.
Soon they awoke clear eyed: nor burnt with thirsting,
Nor with hot fingers, nor with temples bursting:
And springing up, they met the wond’ring sight
Of their dear friends, nigh foolish with delight;
Who feel their arms, and breasts, and kiss and stare,
And on their placid foreheads part the hair.
Young men, and maidens at each other gaz’d
With hands held back, and motionless, amaz’d
To see the brightness in each others’ eyes;
And so they stood, fill’d with a sweet surprise,
Until their tongues were loos’d in poesy.
Therefore no lover did of anguish die:
But the soft numbers, in that moment spoken,
Made silken ties, that never may be broken.
Cynthia! I cannot tell the greater blisses,
That follow’d thine, and thy dear shepherd’s kisses:
Was there a Poet born?–but now no more,
My wand’ring spirit must no further soar.–

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