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Winter. A Dirge

by Robert Burns
    The wintry west extends his blast,
      And hail and rain does blaw;
    Or the stormy north sends driving forth
      The blinding sleet and snaw;
    While tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
      And roars frae bank to brae;
    And bird and beast in covert rest,
      And pass the heartless day.

    “The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
      The joyless winter day
    Let others fear, to me more dear
      Than all the pride of May:
    The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
      My griefs it seems to join;
    The leafless trees my fancy please,
      Their fate resembles mine!

    Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
      These woes of mine fulfil,
    Here, firm, I rest, they must be best,
      Because they are Thy will!
    Then all I want (O, do thou grant
      This one request of mine!)
    Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
      Assist me to resign!

The Cooper O’ Cuddie

by Robert Burns

    The cooper o’ Cuddie cam’ here awa,
    And ca’d the girrs out owre us a’–
    And our gudewife has gotten a ca’
      That anger’d the silly gude-man, O.
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door;
    Behind the door, behind the door;
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door,
      And cover him under a mawn, O.


    He sought them out, he sought them in,
    Wi’, deil hae her! and, deil hae him!
    But the body was sae doited and blin’,
      He wist na where he was gaun, O.


    They cooper’d at e’en, they cooper’d at morn,
    ‘Till our gude-man has gotten the scorn;
    On ilka brow she’s planted a horn,
      And swears that they shall stan’, O.
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door,
    Behind the door, behind the door;
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door,
      And cover him under a mawn, O.

by Emily Dickinson

To fight aloud is very brave,
But gallanter, I know,
Who charge within the bosom,
The cavalry of woe.

Who win, and nations do not see,
Who fall, and none observe,
Whose dying eyes no country
Regards with patriot love.

We trust, in plumed procession,
For such the angels go,
Rank after rank, with even feet
And uniforms of snow.

The Lake

by Edgar Allan Poe
  In spring of youth it was my lot
  To haunt of the wide world a spot
  The which I could not love the less–
  So lovely was the loneliness
  Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
  And the tall pines that towered around.

  But when the Night had thrown her pall
  Upon the spot, as upon all,
  And the mystic wind went by
  Murmuring in melody–
  Then–ah, then, I would awake
  To the terror of the lone lake.

  Yet that terror was not fright,
  But a tremulous delight–
  A feeling not the jewelled mine
  Could teach or bribe me to define–
  Nor Love–although the Love were thine.

  Death was in that poisonous wave,
  And in its gulf a fitting grave
  For him who thence could solace bring
  To his lone imagining–
  Whose solitary soul could make
  An Eden of that dim lake.

Bi-Centennial Ode

by Horatio Alger, Jr.
(June 13, 1860.)

* Sung at the bi-centennial celebration of the incorporation of Marlboro, Mass.

From the door of the homestead the mother looks forth,
  With a glance half of hope, half of fear,
For the clock in the corner now points to the hour
  When the children she loves should appear.
For have they not promised, whatever betide,
  On this their dear mother’s birthday,
To gather once more round the family board,
  Their dutiful service to pay?

From the East and the West, from the North and the South,
  In communion and intercourse sweet,
Her children have come, on this festival day,
  To sit, as of old, at her feet.
And our mother,– God bless her benevolent face!–
  How her heart thrills with motherly joys,
As she stands at the portal, with arms opened wide,
  To welcome her girls and her boys.

And yet, when the first joyful greetings are o’er,
  When the words of her welcome are said:
A shadow creeps over her motherly face,
  As she silently thinks of the dead,
Of the children whose voices once rang through her fields,
  Who shared all her hopes and alarms,
Till, tired with the burden and heat of the day,
  They have fallen asleep in her arms.

They have gone from our midst, but their labors abide
  On the fields where they prayerfully wrought;
They scattered the seed, but the harvest is ours,
  By their toil and self-sacrifice bought.
As we scan the fair scene that once greeted their eyes,
  As we tread the same paths which they trod,
Let us tenderly think of our elders by birth,
  Who have gone to their rest, and their God.

God bless the old homestead! some linger there still,
  In the haunts which their childhood has known,
While others have wandered to places remote,
  And planted new homes of their own;
But Time cannot weaken the ties Love creates,
  Nor absence, nor distance, impede
The filial devotion which thrills all our hearts,
  As we bid our old mother God-speed.

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?

Voices of the Night

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Pleasant it was, when woods were green,
  And winds were soft and low,
To lie amid some sylvan scene.
Where, the long drooping boughs between,
Shadows dark and sunlight sheen
  Alternate come and go;

Or where the denser grove receives
  No sunlight from above,
But the dark foliage interweaves
In one unbroken roof of leaves,
Underneath whose sloping eaves
  The shadows hardly move.

Beneath some patriarchal tree
  I lay upon the ground;
His hoary arms uplifted he,
And all the broad leaves over me
Clapped their little hands in glee,
  With one continuous sound;–

A slumberous sound, a sound that brings
  The feelings of a dream,
As of innumerable wings,
As, when a bell no longer swings,
Faint the hollow murmur rings
  O’er meadow, lake, and stream.

And dreams of that which cannot die,
  Bright visions, came to me,
As lapped in thought I used to lie,
And gaze into the summer sky,
Where the sailing clouds went by,
  Like ships upon the sea;

Dreams that the soul of youth engage
  Ere Fancy has been quelled;
Old legends of the monkish page,
Traditions of the saint and sage,
Tales that have the rime of age,
  And chronicles of Eld.

And, loving still these quaint old themes,
  Even in the city’s throng
I feel the freshness of the streams,
That, crossed by shades and sunny gleams,
Water the green land of dreams,
  The holy land of song.

Therefore, at Pentecost, which brings
  The Spring, clothed like a bride,
When nestling buds unfold their wings,
And bishop’s-caps have golden rings,
Musing upon many things,
  I sought the woodlands wide.

The green trees whispered low and mild;
  It was a sound of joy!
They were my playmates when a child,
And rocked me in their arms so wild!
Still they looked at me and smiled,
  As if I were a boy;

And ever whispered, mild and low,
  “Come, be a child once more!”
And waved their long arms to and fro,
And beckoned solemnly and slow;
O, I could not choose but go
  Into the woodlands hoar,–

Into the blithe and breathing air,
  Into the solemn wood,
Solemn and silent everywhere
Nature with folded hands seemed there
Kneeling at her evening prayer!
  Like one in prayer I stood.

Before me rose an avenue
  Of tall and sombrous pines;
Abroad their fan-like branches grew,
And, where the sunshine darted through,
Spread a vapor soft and blue,
  In long and sloping lines.

And, falling on my weary brain,
  Like a fast-falling shower,
The dreams of youth came back again,
Low lispings of the summer rain,
Dropping on the ripened grain,
  As once upon the flower.

Visions of childhood!  Stay, O stay!
  Ye were so sweet and wild!
And distant voices seemed to say,
“It cannot be!  They pass away!
Other themes demand thy lay;
  Thou art no more a child!

“The land of Song within thee lies,
  Watered by living springs;
The lids of Fancy’s sleepless eyes
Are gates unto that Paradise,
Holy thoughts, like stars, arise,
  Its clouds are angels’ wings.

“Learn, that henceforth thy song shall be,
  Not mountains capped with snow,
Nor forests sounding like the sea,
Nor rivers flowing ceaselessly,
Where the woodlands bend to see
  The bending heavens below.

“There is a forest where the din
  Of iron branches sounds!
A mighty river roars between,
And whosoever looks therein
Sees the heavens all black with sin,
  Sees not its depths, nor bounds.

“Athwart the swinging branches cast,
  Soft rays of sunshine pour;
Then comes the fearful wintry blast
Our hopes, like withered leaves, fail fast;
Pallid lips say, ‘It is past!
  We can return no more!,

“Look, then, into thine heart, and write!
  Yes, into Life’s deep stream!
All forms of sorrow and delight,
All solemn Voices of the Night,
That can soothe thee, or affright,–
  Be these henceforth thy theme.”

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER II

by Eleanor H. Porter
In the cozy living-room at Hillside, Billy Neilson’s
pretty home on Corey Hill, Billy herself sat
writing at the desk.  Her pen had just traced the
date, “October twenty-fifth,” when Mrs. Stetson
entered with a letter in her hand.

“Writing, my dear?  Then don’t let me disturb
you.”  She turned as if to go.

Billy dropped her pen, sprang to her feet, flew
to the little woman’s side and whirled her half
across the room.

“There!” she exclaimed, as she plumped the
breathless and scandalized Aunt Hannah into the
biggest easy chair.  “I feel better.  I just had to
let off steam some way.  It’s so lovely you came
in just when you did!”

“Indeed! I–I’m not so sure of that,” stammered
the lady, dropping the letter into her lap,
and patting with agitated fingers her cap, her
curls, the two shawls about her shoulders, and the
lace at her throat.  “My grief and conscience,
Billy!  Wors’t you _ever_ grow up?”

“Hope not,” purred Billy cheerfully, dropping
herself on to a low hassock at Aunt Hannah’s feet.

“But, my dear, you–you’re engaged!”

Billy bubbled into a chuckling laugh.

“As if I didn’t know that, when I’ve just written
a dozen notes to announce it!  And, oh, Aunt
Hannah, such a time as I’ve had, telling what a
dear Bertram is, and how I love, love, _love_ him,
and what beautiful eyes he has, and _such_ a nose,

“Billy!”  Aunt Hannah was sitting erect in
pale horror.

“Eh?” Billy’s eyes were roguish.

“You didn’t write that in those notes!”

“Write it?  Oh, no!  That’s only what I _wanted_
to write,” chuckled Billy.  “What I really did
write was as staid and proper as–here, let me
show you,” she broke off, springing to her feet and
running over to her desk.  “There! this is about
what I wrote to them all,” she finished, whipping
a note out of one of the unsealed envelopes on the
desk and spreading it open before Aunt Hannah’s
suspicious eyes.

“Hm-m; that is very good–for you,” admitted
the lady.

“Well, I like that!–after all my stern self-
control and self-sacrifice to keep out all those
things I _wanted_ to write,” bridled Billy.  “Besides,
they’d have been ever so much more interesting
reading than these will be,” she pouted, as
she took the note from her companion’s hand.

“I don’t doubt it,” observed Aunt Hannah,

Billy laughed, and tossed the note back on the

“I’m writing to Belle Calderwell, now,” she
announced musingly, dropping herself again on
the hassock.  “I suppose she’ll tell Hugh.”

“Poor boy!  He’ll be disappointed.”

Billy sighed, but she uptilted her chin a little.

“He ought not to be.  I told him long, long ago,
the very first time, that–that I couldn’t.”

“I know, dear; but–they don’t always
understand.”  Aunt Hannah sighed in sympathy
with the far-away Hugh Calderwell, as she looked
down at the bright young face near her.

There was a moment’s silence; then Billy gave
a little laugh.

“He _will_ be surprised,” she said.  “He told
me once that Bertram wouldn’t ever care for any
girl except to paint.  To paint, indeed!  As if Bertram
didn’t love me–just _me!_–if he never saw
another tube of paint!”

“I think he does, my dear.”

Again there was silence; then, from Billy’s lips
there came softly:

“Just think; we’ve been engaged almost four
weeks–and to-morrow it’ll be announced.  I’m
so glad I didn’t ever announce the other

“The other _two!_” cried Aunt Hannah.

Billy laughed.

“Oh, I forgot.  You didn’t know about Cyril.”


“Oh, there didn’t anybody know it, either
not even Cyril himself,” dimpled Billy, mischievously.
“I just engaged myself to him in imagination,
you know, to see how I’d like it.  I didn’t
like it.  But it didn’t last, anyhow, very long–
just three weeks, I believe.  Then I broke it off,”
she finished, with unsmiling mouth, but dancing

“Billy!” protested Aunt Hannah, feebly.

“But I _am_ glad only the family knew about
my engagement to Uncle William–oh, Aunt
Hannah, you don’t know how good it does seem
to call him `Uncle’ again.  It was always slipping
out, anyhow, all the time we were engaged; and
of course it was awful then.”

“That only goes to prove, my dear, how
entirely unsuitable it was, from the start.”

A bright color flooded Billy’s face.

“I know; but if a girl _will_ think a man is asking
for a wife when all he wants is a daughter, and if
she blandly says `Yes, thank you, I’ll marry you,’
I don’t know what you can expect!”

“You can expect just what you got–misery,
and almost a tragedy,” retorted Aunt Hannah,

A tender light came into Billy’s eyes.

“Dear Uncle William!  What a jewel he was,
all the way through!  And he’d have marched
straight to the altar, too, with never a flicker of
an eyelid, I know–self-sacrificing martyr that
he was!”

“Martyr!” bristled Aunt Hannah, with
extraordinary violence for her.  “I’m thinking that
term belonged somewhere else.  A month ago,
Billy Neilson, you did not look as if you’d live
out half your days.  But I suppose _you’d_ have
gone to the altar, too, with never a flicker of an

“But I thought I had to,” protested Billy.
“I couldn’t grieve Uncle William so, after Mrs.
Hartwell had said how he–he wanted me.”

Aunt Hannah’s lips grew stern at the corners.

“There are times when–when I think it
would be wiser if Mrs. Kate Hartwell would attend
to her own affairs!” Aunt Hannah’s voice
fairly shook with wrath.

“Why-Aunt Hannah!” reproved Billy in
mischievous horror.  “I’m shocked at you!”

Aunt Hannah flushed miserably.

“There, there, child, forget I said it.  I ought
not to have said it, of course,” she murmured agitatedly.

Billy laughed.

“You should have heard what Uncle William
said!  But never mind.  We all found out the mistake
before it was too late, and everything is
lovely now, even to Cyril and Marie.  Did you
ever see anything so beatifically happy as that
couple are?  Bertram says he hasn’t heard a dirge
from Cyril’s rooms for three weeks; and that if
anybody else played the kind of music he’s been
playing, it would be just common garden ragtime!”

“Music!  Oh, my grief and conscience!  That
makes me think, Billy.  If I’m not actually
forgetting what I came in here for,” cried Aunt
Hannah, fumbling in the folds of her dress for the
letter that had slipped from her lap.  “I’ve had
word from a young niece.  She’s going to study
music in Boston.”

“A niece?”

“Well, not really, you know.  She calls me
`Aunt,’ just as you and the Henshaw boys do.
But I really am related to _her_, for her mother and
I are third cousins, while it was my husband who
was distantly related to the Henshaw family.”

“What’s her name?”

“ `Mary Jane Arkwright.’  Where is that

“Here it is, on the floor,” reported Billy.
“Were you going to read it to me?” she asked,
as she picked it up.

“Yes–if you don’t mind.”

“I’d love to hear it.”

“Then I’ll read it.  It–it rather annoys me
in some ways.  I thought the whole family understood
that I wasn’t living by myself any longer
–that I was living with you.  I’m sure I thought
I wrote them that, long ago.  But this sounds
almost as if they didn’t understand it–at least,
as if this girl didn’t.”

“How old is she?”

“I don’t know; but she must be some old, to
be coming here to Boston to study music, alone
–singing, I think she said.”

“You don’t remember her, then?”

Aunt Hannah frowned and paused, the letter
half withdrawn from its envelope.

“No–but that isn’t strange.  They live West.
I haven’t seen any of them for years.  I know there
are several children–and I suppose I’ve been
told their names.  I know there’s a boy–the
eldest, I think–who is quite a singer, and there’s
a girl who paints, I believe; but I don’t seem to
remember a `Mary Jane.’ ”

“Never mind!  Suppose we let Mary Jane speak
for herself,” suggested Billy, dropping her chin
into the small pink cup of her hand, and settling
herself to listen.

“Very well,” sighed Aunt Hannah; and she
opened the letter and began to read.
“DEAR AUNT HANNAH:–This is to tell you
that I’m coming to Boston to study singing in
the school for Grand Opera, and I’m planning to
look you up.  Do you object?  I said to a friend
the other day that I’d half a mind to write to Aunt
Hannah and beg a home with her; and my friend
retorted:  `Why don’t you, Mary Jane?’  But
that, of course, I should not think of doing.

“But I know I shall be lonesome, Aunt Hannah,
and I hope you’ll let me see you once in a
while, anyway.  I plan now to come next week
–I’ve already got as far as New York, as you see
by the address–and I shall hope to see you

“All the family would send love, I know.
                         “M. J. ARKWRIGHT.”
“Grand Opera!  Oh, how perfectly lovely,”
cried Billy.

“Yes, but Billy, do you think she is expecting
me to invite her to make her home with me?  I
shall have to write and explain that I can’t–
if she does, of course.”

Billy frowned and hesitated.

“Why, it sounded–a little–that way;
but–”  Suddenly her face cleared.  “Aunt
Hannah, I’ve thought of the very thing.  We _will_
take her!”

“Oh, Billy, I couldn’t think of letting you do
that,” demurred Aunt Hannah.  “You’re very
kind–but, oh, no; not that!”

“Why not?  I think it would be lovely; and
we can just as well as not.  After Marie is married
in December, she can have that room.  Until
then she can have the little blue room next to me.”

“But–but–we don’t know anything about

“We know she’s your niece, and she’s lonesome;
and we know she’s musical.  I shall love her for
every one of those things.  Of course we’ll take

“But–I don’t know anything about her age.”

“All the more reason why she should be looked
out for, then,” retorted Billy, promptly.  “Why,
Aunt Hannah, just as if you didn’t want to give
this lonesome, unprotected young girl a home!”

“Oh, I do, of course; but–”

“Then it’s all settled,” interposed Billy,
springing to her feet.

“But what if we–we shouldn’t like her?”

“Nonsense!  What if she shouldn’t like us?”
laughed Billy.  “However, if you’d feel better,
just ask her to come and stay with us a month.
We shall keep her all right, afterwards.  See if we

Slowly Aunt Hannah got to her feet.

“Very well, dear.  I’ll write, of course, as you
tell me to; and it’s lovely of you to do it.  Now
I’ll leave you to your letters.  I’ve hindered you
far too long, as it is.”

“You’ve rested me,” declared Billy, flinging
wide her arms.

Aunt Hannah, fearing a second dizzying whirl
impelled by those same young arms, drew her
shawls about her shoulders and backed hastily
toward the hall door.

Billy laughed.

“Oh, I won’t again–to-day,” she promised
merrily.  Then, as the lady reached the arched
doorway:  “Tell Mary Jane to let us know the
day and train and we’ll meet her.  Oh, and Aunt
Hannah, tell her to wear a pink–a white pink;
and tell her we will, too,” she finished gayly.

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth

    The Sun came up upon the right,
      Out of the Sea came he;
    And broad as a weft upon the left
      Went down into the Sea.

    And the good south wind still blew behind,
      But no sweet Bird did follow
    Ne any day for food or play
      Came to the Marinere’s hollo!

    And I had done an hellish thing
      And it would work ‘em woe:
    For all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird
      That made the Breeze to blow.

    Ne dim ne red, like God’s own head,
      The glorious Sun uprist:
    Then all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird
      That brought the fog and mist.
    ‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay
      That bring the fog and mist.

    The breezes blew, the white foam flew,
      The furrow follow’d free:
    We were the first that ever burst
      Into that silent Sea.

    Down dropt the breeze, the Sails dropt down,
      ‘Twas sad as sad could be
    And we did speak only to break
      The silence of the Sea.

    All in a hot and copper sky
      The bloody sun at noon,
    Right up above the mast did stand,
      No bigger than the moon.

    Day after day, day after day,
      We stuck, ne breath ne motion,
    As idle as a painted Ship
      Upon a painted Ocean.

    Water, water, every where
      And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, every where,
      Ne any drop to drink.

    The very deeps did rot: O Christ!
      That ever this should be!
    Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
      Upon the slimy Sea.

    About, about, in reel and rout
      The Death-fires danc’d at night;
    The water, like a witch’s oils,
      Burnt green and blue and white.

    And some in dreams assured were
      Of the Spirit that plagued us so:
    Nine fathom deep he had follow’d us
      From the Land of Mist and Snow.

    And every tongue thro’ utter drouth
      Was wither’d at the root;
    We could not speak no more than if
      We had been choked with soot.

    Ah wel-a-day! what evil looks
      Had I from old and young;
    Instead of the Cross the Albatross
      About my neck was hung.

To Isadore

by Edgar Allan Poe
I.       Beneath the vine-clad eaves,
             Whose shadows fall before
             Thy lowly cottage door–
         Under the lilac’s tremulous leaves–
         Within thy snowy clasped hand
             The purple flowers it bore.
         Last eve in dreams, I saw thee stand,
         Like queenly nymph from Fairy-land–
         Enchantress of the flowery wand,
             Most beauteous Isadore!
II.      And when I bade the dream
             Upon thy spirit flee,
             Thy violet eyes to me
         Upturned, did overflowing seem
         With the deep, untold delight
             Of Love’s serenity;
         Thy classic brow, like lilies white
         And pale as the Imperial Night
         Upon her throne, with stars bedight,
             Enthralled my soul to thee!
III.     Ah! ever I behold
             Thy dreamy, passionate eyes,
             Blue as the languid skies
         Hung with the sunset’s fringe of gold;
         Now strangely clear thine image grows,
             And olden memories
         Are startled from their long repose
         Like shadows on the silent snows
         When suddenly the night-wind blows
             Where quiet moonlight lies.
IV.      Like music heard in dreams,
             Like strains of harps unknown,
             Of birds for ever flown,–
         Audible as the voice of streams
         That murmur in some leafy dell,
             I hear thy gentlest tone,
         And Silence cometh with her spell
         Like that which on my tongue doth dwell,
         When tremulous in dreams I tell
             My love to thee alone!

V.       In every valley heard,
             Floating from tree to tree,
             Less beautiful to me,
         The music of the radiant bird,
         Than artless accents such as thine
             Whose echoes never flee!
         Ah! how for thy sweet voice I pine:–
         For uttered in thy tones benign
         (Enchantress!) this rude name of mine
             Doth seem a melody!

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