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Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER VI

by Eleanor H. Porter

AT THE SIGN OF THE PINK
After a week of beautiful autumn weather,
Thursday dawned raw and cold.  By noon an
east wind had made the temperature still more
uncomfortable.

At two o’clock Aunt Hannah tapped at Billy’s
chamber door.  She showed a troubled face to
the girl who answered her knock.

“Billy, _would_ you mind very much if I asked
you to go alone to the Carletons’ and to meet
Mary Jane?” she inquired anxiously.

“Why, no–that is, of course I should _mind_,
dear, because I always like to have you go to
places with me.  But it isn’t necessary.  You
aren’t sick; are you?”

“N-no, not exactly; but I have been sneezing
all the morning, and taking camphor and sugar
to break it up–if it is a cold.  But it is so raw
and Novemberish out, that–”

“Why, of course you sha’n't go, you poor
dear!  Mercy! don’t get one of those dreadful
colds on to you before the wedding!  Have you felt
a draft?  Where’s another shawl?”  Billy turned
and cast searching eyes about the room–Billy
always kept shawls everywhere for Aunt Hannah’s
shoulders and feet.  Bertram had been known
to say, indeed, that a room, according to Aunt
Hannah, was not fully furnished unless it contained
from one to four shawls, assorted as to size
and warmth.  Shawls, certainly, did seem to be
a necessity with Aunt Hannah, as she usually
wore from one to three at the same time–which
again caused Bertram to declare that he always
counted Aunt Hannah’s shawls when he wished
to know what the thermometer was.

“No, I’m not cold, and I haven’t felt a draft,”
said Aunt Hannah now.  “I put on my thickest
gray shawl this morning with the little pink one
for down-stairs, and the blue one for breakfast;
so you see I’ve been very careful.  But I _have_
sneezed six times, so I think ‘twould be safer not
to go out in this east wind.  You were going to
stop for Mrs. Granger, anyway, weren’t you?
So you’ll have her with you for the tea.”

“Yes, dear, don’t worry.  I’ll take your cards
and explain to Mrs. Carleton and her daughters.”

“And, of course, as far as Mary Jane is
concerned, I don’t know her any more than you do;
so I couldn’t be any help there,” sighed Aunt
Hannah.

“Not a bit,” smiled Billy, cheerily.  “Don’t
give it another thought, my dear.  I sha’n't
have a bit of trouble.  All I’ll have to do is to
look for a girl alone with a pink.  Of course I’ll
have mine on, too, and she’ll be watching for me.
So just run along and take your nap, dear, and be
all rested and ready to welcome her when she
comes,” finished Billy, stooping to give the soft,
faintly pink cheek a warm kiss.

“Well, thank you, my dear; perhaps I will,”
sighed Aunt Hannah, drawing the gray shawl
about her as she turned away contentedly.

Mrs. Carleton’s tea that afternoon was, for
Billy, not an occasion of unalloyed joy.  It was the
first time she had appeared at a gathering of
any size since the announcement of her engagement;
and, as she dolefully told Bertram afterwards,
she had very much the feeling of the picture
hung on the wall.

“And they _did_ put up their lorgnettes and say,
`Is _that_ the one?’ ” she declared; “and I know
some of them finished with `Did you ever?’ too,”
she sighed.

But Billy did not stay long in Mrs. Carleton’s
softly-lighted, flower-perfumed rooms.  At ten
minutes past four she was saying good-by to a
group of friends who were vainly urging her to
remain longer.

“I can’t–I really can’t,” she declared.  “I’m
due at the South Station at half past four to
meet a Miss Arkwright, a young cousin of Aunt
Hannah’s, whom I’ve never seen before.  We’re
to meet at the sign of the pink,” she explained
smilingly, just touching the single flower she
wore.

Her hostess gave a sudden laugh.

“Let me see, my dear; if I remember rightly,
you’ve had experience before, meeting at this
sign of the pink.  At least, I have a very vivid
recollection of Mr. William Henshaw’s going once
to meet a _boy_ with a pink, who turned out to be
a girl.  Now, to even things up, your girl should
turn out to be a boy!”

Billy smiled and reddened.

“Perhaps–but I don’t think to-day will
strike the balance,” she retorted, backing toward
the door.  “This young lady’s name is `Mary
Jane’; and I’ll leave it to you to find anything
very masculine in that!”

It was a short drive from Mrs. Carleton’s
Commonwealth Avenue home to the South Station,
and Peggy made as quick work of it as the
narrow, congested cross streets would allow.
In ample time Billy found herself in the great
waiting-room, with John saying respectfully in
her ear:

“The man says the train comes in on Track
Fourteen, Miss, an’ it’s on time.”

At twenty-nine minutes past four Billy left
her seat and walked down the train-shed platform
to Track Number Fourteen.  She had pinned
the pink now to the outside of her long coat, and
it made an attractive dash of white against the
dark-blue velvet.  Billy was looking particularly
lovely to-day.  Framing her face was the big
dark-blue velvet picture hat with its becoming
white plumes.

During the brief minutes’ wait before the clanging
locomotive puffed into view far down the long
track, Billy’s thoughts involuntarily went back
to that other watcher beside a train gate not
quite five years before.

“Dear Uncle William!” she murmured
tenderly.  Then suddenly she laughed–so nearly
aloud that a man behind her gave her a covert
glance from curious eyes.  “My! but what a
jolt I must have been to Uncle William!” Billy
was thinking.

The next minute she drew nearer the gate and
regarded with absorbed attention the long line
of passengers already sweeping up the narrow
aisle between the cars.

Hurrying men came first, with long strides,
and eyes that looked straight ahead.  These
Billy let pass with a mere glance.  The next group
showed a sprinkling of women–women whose
trig hats and linen collars spelled promptness as
well as certainty of aim and accomplishment.
To these, also, Billy paid scant attention.  Couples
came next–the men anxious-eyed, and usually
walking two steps ahead of their companions;
the women plainly flustered and hurried, and
invariably buttoning gloves or gathering up trailing
ends of scarfs or boas.

The crowd was thickening fast, now, and Billy’s
eyes were alert.  Children were appearing, and
young women walking alone.  One of these wore
a bunch of violets.  Billy gave her a second glance.
Then she saw a pink–but it was on the coat lapel
of a tall young fellow with a brown beard; so with
a slight frown she looked beyond down the line.

Old men came now, and old women; fleshy
women, and women with small children and babies.
Couples came, too–dawdling couples, plainly
newly married: the men were not two steps
ahead, and the women’s gloves were buttoned and
their furs in place.

Gradually the line thinned, and soon there were
left only an old man with a cane, and a young
woman with three children.  Yet nowhere had
Billy seen a girl wearing a white carnation, and
walking alone.

With a deeper frown on her face Billy turned
and looked about her.  She thought that somewhere
in the crowd she had missed Mary Jane,
and that she would find her now, standing near.
But there was no one standing near except the
good-looking young fellow with the little pointed
brown beard, who, as Billy noticed a second
time, was wearing a white carnation.

As she glanced toward him, their eyes met.
Then, to Billy’s unbounded amazement, the man
advanced with uplifted hat.

“I beg your pardon, but is not this–Miss
Neilson?”

Billy drew back with just a touch of hauteur.

“Y-yes,” she murmured.

“I thought so–yet I was expecting to see
you with Aunt Hannah.  I am M. J. Arkwright,
Miss Neilson.”

For a brief instant Billy stared dazedly.

“You don’t mean–Mary Jane?” she gasped.

“I’m afraid I do.”  His lips twitched.

“But I thought–we were expecting–”
She stopped helplessly.  For one more brief
instant she stared; then, suddenly, a swift
change came to her face.  Her eyes danced.

“Oh–oh!” she chuckled.  “How perfectly
funny!  You _have_ evened things up, after
all.  To think that Mary Jane should be a–”
She paused and flashed almost angrily suspicious
eyes into his face.  “But mine _was_ `Billy,’ ”
she cried.  “Your name isn’t really–Mary
Jane’?”

“I am often called that.”  His brown eyes
twinkled, but they did not swerve from their
direct gaze into her own.

“But–” Billy hesitated, and turned her
eyes away.  She saw then that many curious
glances were already being flung in her direction.
The color in her cheeks deepened.  With an odd
little gesture she seemed to toss something aside.
“Never mind,” she laughed a little hysterically.
“If you’ll pick up your bag, please, Mr.
Mary Jane, and come with me.  John and Peggy
are waiting.  Or–I forgot–you have a trunk,
of course?”

The man raised a protesting hand.

“Thank you; but, Miss Neilson, really–I
couldn’t think of trespassing on your hospitality
–now, you know.”

“But we–we invited you,” stammered Billy.

He shook his head.

“You invited _Miss_ Mary Jane.”

Billy bubbled into low laughter.

“I beg your pardon, but it _is_ funny,” she sighed.
“You see _I_ came once just the same way, and
now to have the tables turned like this!  What
will Aunt Hannah say–what will everybody
say?  Come, I want them to begin–to say it,”
she chuckled irrepressibly.

“Thank you, but I shall go to a hotel, of course.
Later, if you’ll be so good as to let me call, and
explain–!”

“But I’m afraid Aunt Hannah will think–”
Billy stopped abruptly.  Some distance away
she saw John coming toward them.  She turned
hurriedly to the man at her side.  Her eyes still
danced, but her voice was mockingly serious.
“Really, Mr. Mary Jane, I’m afraid you’ll have
to come to dinner; then you can settle the rest
with Aunt Hannah.  John is almost upon us–
and _I_ don’t want to make explanations.  Do you?”

“John,” she said airily to the somewhat dazed
chauffeur (who had been told he was to meet a
young woman), “take Mr. Arkwright’s bag,
please, and show him where Peggy is waiting.
It will be five minutes, perhaps, before I can come
–if you’ll kindly excuse me,” she added to
Arkwright, with a flashing glance from merry
eyes.  “I have some–telephoning to do.”

All the way to the telephone booth Billy was
trying to bring order out of the chaos of her mind;
but all the way, too, she was chuckling.

“To think that this thing should have happened
to _me!_” she said, almost aloud.  “And here I
am telephoning just like Uncle William–Bertram
said Uncle William _did_ telephone about _me!_”

In due course Billy had Aunt Hannah at the
other end of the wire.

“Aunt Hannah, listen.  I’d never have
believed it, but it’s happened.  Mary Jane is–a
man.”

Billy heard a dismayed gasp and a muttered
“Oh, my grief and conscience!” then a shaking
“Wha-at?”

“I say, Mary Jane is a man.”  Billy was
enjoying herself hugely.

“A _ma-an!_”

“Yes; a great big man with a brown beard.
He’s waiting now with John and I must go.”

“But, Billy, I don’t understand,” chattered
an agitated voice over the line.  “He–he called
himself `Mary Jane.’  He hasn’t any business
to be a big man with a brown beard!  What shall
we do?  We don’t want a big man with a brown
beard–here!”

Billy laughed roguishly.

“I don’t know.  _You_ asked him!  How he
will like that little blue room–Aunt Hannah!”
Billy’s voice turned suddenly tragic.  “For pity’s
sake take out those curling tongs and hairpins,
and the work-basket.  I’d _never_ hear the last of
it if he saw those, I know.  He’s just that kind!”

A half stifled groan came over the wire.

“Billy, he can’t stay here.”

Billy laughed again.

“No, no, dear; he won’t, I know.  He says
he’s going to a hotel.  But I had to bring him home
to dinner; there was no other way, under the
circumstances.  He won’t stay.  Don’t you worry.
But good-by.  I must go.  _Remember those curling
tongs!_” And the receiver clicked sharply against
the hook.

In the automobile some minutes later, Billy
and Mr. M. J. Arkwright were speeding toward
Corey Hill.  It was during a slight pause in the
conversation that Billy turned to her companion
with a demure:

“I telephoned Aunt Hannah, Mr. Arkwright.
I thought she ought to be–warned.”

“You are very kind.  What did she say?–if
I may ask.”

There was a brief moment of hesitation before
Billy answered.

“She said you called yourself `Mary Jane,’
and that you hadn’t any business to be a big man
with a brown beard.”

Arkwright laughed.

“I’m afraid I owe Aunt Hannah an apology,”
he said.  He hesitated, glanced admiringly at the
glowing, half-averted face near him, then went
on decisively.  He wore the air of a man who has
set the match to his bridges.  “I signed both
letters `M. J. Arkwright,’ but in the first one
I quoted a remark of a friend, and in that remark
I was addressed as `Mary Jane.’  I did not know
but Aunt Hannah knew of the nickname.”
(Arkwright was speaking a little slowly now, as if
weighing his words.)  “But when she answered,
I saw that she did not; for, from something she
said, I realized that she thought I was a real
Mary Jane.  For the joke of the thing I let it pass.
But–if she noticed my letter carefully, she saw
that I did not accept your kind invitation to give

`Mary Jane’ a home.”

“Yes, we noticed that,” nodded Billy, merrily.
“But we didn’t think you meant it.  You see
we pictured you as a shy young thing.  But,
really,” she went on with a low laugh, “you see
your coming as a masculine `Mary Jane’ was
particularly funny–for me; for, though perhaps
you didn’t know it, I came once to this very same
city, wearing a pink, and was expected to be Billy,
a boy.  And only to-day a lady warned me that
your coming might even things up.  But I didn’t
believe it would–a Mary Jane!”

Arkwright laughed.  Again he hesitated, and
seemed to be weighing his words.

“Yes, I heard about that coming of yours.
I might almost say–that’s why I–let the
mistake pass in Aunt Hannah’s letter,” he said.

Billy turned with reproachful eyes.

“Oh, how could–you?  But then–it was a
temptation!”  She laughed suddenly.  “What
sinful joy you must have had watching me hunt
for `Mary Jane.’ ”

“I didn’t,” acknowledged the other, with
unexpected candor.  “I felt–ashamed.  And when
I saw you were there alone without Aunt Hannah,
I came very near not speaking at all–until I
realized that that would be even worse, under the
circumstances.”

“Of course it would,” smiled Billy, brightly;
“so I don’t see but I shall have to forgive you,
after all.  And here we are at home, Mr. Mary
Jane.  By the way, what did you say that `M. J.’
did stand for?” she asked, as the car came to a
stop.

The man did not seem to hear; at least he did
not answer.  He was helping his hostess to alight.
A moment later a plainly agitated Aunt Hannah
–her gray shawl topped with a huge black one
–opened the door of the house.

The Organ Grinder

by Evaleen Stein

Hark! I hear the organ-grinder
Coming down the street,
And the sudden clatter-patter
Of the children’s feet!

Come, oh, let us run to meet him!
Did you ever hear
Tunes so gay as he is playing,
Or so sweet and clear?

See the brown-faced little monkey,
Impudent and bold,
With his little scarlet jacket
Braided all in gold!

And his tiny cap and tassel
Bobbing to and fro,
Look, oh, look! he plucks it off now,
Bowing very low.

And he’s passing it politely–
Can it be for _pay_?
O dear me! I have no penny!
Let us run away!

Success

by Emily Dickinson

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear!

Rouge Et Noir

by Emily Dickinson

Soul, wilt thou toss again?
By just such a hazard
Hundreds have lost, indeed,
But tens have won an all.

Angels’ breathless ballot
Lingers to record thee;
Imps in eager caucus
Raffle for my soul.

Hymm to Aristogeiton and Harmodius

by Edgar Allan Poe
  I.      Wreathed in myrtle, my sword I’ll conceal,
            Like those champions devoted and brave,
          When they plunged in the tyrant their steel,
            And to Athens deliverance gave.

  II.     Beloved heroes! your deathless souls roam
            In the joy breathing isles of the blest;
          Where the mighty of old have their home–
            Where Achilles and Diomed rest.

  III.    In fresh myrtle my blade I’ll entwine,
            Like Harmodius, the gallant and good,
          When he made at the tutelar shrine
            A libation of Tyranny’s blood.

  IV.     Ye deliverers of Athens from shame!
            Ye avengers of Liberty’s wrongs!
          Endless ages shall cherish your fame,
            Embalmed in their echoing songs!

Tamerlane

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Kind solace in a dying hour!
  Such, father, is not (now) my theme–
  I will not madly deem that power
  Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
  Unearthly pride hath revelled in–
  I have no time to dote or dream:
  You call it hope–that fire of fire!
  It is but agony of desire:
  If I _can_ hope–O God! I can–
  Its fount is holier–more divine–
  I would not call thee fool, old man,
  But such is not a gift of thine.

  Know thou the secret of a spirit
  Bowed from its wild pride into shame
  O yearning heart! I did inherit
  Thy withering portion with the fame,
  The searing glory which hath shone
  Amid the Jewels of my throne,
  Halo of Hell! and with a pain
  Not Hell shall make me fear again–
  O craving heart, for the lost flowers
  And sunshine of my summer hours!
  The undying voice of that dead time,
  With its interminable chime,
  Rings, in the spirit of a spell,
  Upon thy emptiness–a knell.

  I have not always been as now:
  The fevered diadem on my brow
  I claimed and won usurpingly–
  Hath not the same fierce heirdom given
  Rome to the Cæsar–this to me?
  The heritage of a kingly mind,
  And a proud spirit which hath striven
  Triumphantly with human kind.
  On mountain soil I first drew life:
  The mists of the Taglay have shed
  Nightly their dews upon my head,
  And, I believe, the winged strife
  And tumult of the headlong air
  Have nestled in my very hair.

  So late from Heaven–that dew–it fell
  (‘Mid dreams of an unholy night)
  Upon me with the touch of Hell,
  While the red flashing of the light
  From clouds that hung, like banners, o’er,
  Appeared to my half-closing eye
  The pageantry of monarchy;
  And the deep trumpet-thunder’s roar
  Came hurriedly upon me, telling
  Of human battle, where my voice,
  My own voice, silly child!–was swelling
  (O! how my spirit would rejoice,
  And leap within me at the cry)
  The battle-cry of Victory!

  The rain came down upon my head
  Unsheltered–and the heavy wind
  Rendered me mad and deaf and blind.
  It was but man, I thought, who shed
  Laurels upon me: and the rush–
  The torrent of the chilly air
  Gurgled within my ear the crush
  Of empires–with the captive’s prayer–
  The hum of suitors–and the tone
  Of flattery ’round a sovereign’s throne.

  My passions, from that hapless hour,
  Usurped a tyranny which men
  Have deemed since I have reached to power,
  My innate nature–be it so:
  But, father, there lived one who, then,
  Then–in my boyhood–when their fire
  Burned with a still intenser glow
  (For passion must, with youth, expire)
  E’en _then_ who knew this iron heart
  In woman’s weakness had a part.

  I have no words–alas!–to tell
  The loveliness of loving well!
  Nor would I now attempt to trace
  The more than beauty of a face
  Whose lineaments, upon my mind,
  Are–shadows on th’ unstable wind:
  Thus I remember having dwelt
  Some page of early lore upon,
  With loitering eye, till I have felt
  The letters–with their meaning–melt
  To fantasies–with none.

  O, she was worthy of all love!
  Love as in infancy was mine–
  ‘Twas such as angel minds above
  Might envy; her young heart the shrine
  On which my every hope and thought
  Were incense–then a goodly gift,
  For they were childish and upright–
  Pure–as her young example taught:
  Why did I leave it, and, adrift,
  Trust to the fire within, for light?

  We grew in age–and love–together–
  Roaming the forest, and the wild;
  My breast her shield in wintry weather–
  And, when the friendly sunshine smiled.
  And she would mark the opening skies,
  _I_ saw no Heaven–but in her eyes.
  Young Love’s first lesson is—-the heart:
  For ‘mid that sunshine, and those smiles,
  When, from our little cares apart,
  And laughing at her girlish wiles,
  I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,
  And pour my spirit out in tears–
  There was no need to speak the rest–
  No need to quiet any fears
  Of her–who asked no reason why,
  But turned on me her quiet eye!

  Yet _more_ than worthy of the love
  My spirit struggled with, and strove
  When, on the mountain peak, alone,
  Ambition lent it a new tone–
  I had no being–but in thee:
  The world, and all it did contain
  In the earth–the air–the sea–
  Its joy–its little lot of pain
  That was new pleasure–the ideal,
  Dim, vanities of dreams by night–
  And dimmer nothings which were real–
  (Shadows–and a more shadowy light!)
  Parted upon their misty wings,
  And, so, confusedly, became
  Thine image and–a name–a name!
  Two separate–yet most intimate things.

  I was ambitious–have you known
  The passion, father? You have not:
  A cottager, I marked a throne
  Of half the world as all my own,
  And murmured at such lowly lot–
  But, just like any other dream,
  Upon the vapor of the dew
  My own had past, did not the beam
  Of beauty which did while it thro’
  The minute–the hour–the day–oppress
  My mind with double loveliness.

  We walked together on the crown
  Of a high mountain which looked down
  Afar from its proud natural towers
  Of rock and forest, on the hills–
  The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers
  And shouting with a thousand rills.

  I spoke to her of power and pride,
  But mystically–in such guise
  That she might deem it nought beside
  The moment’s converse; in her eyes
  I read, perhaps too carelessly–
  A mingled feeling with my own–
  The flush on her bright cheek, to me
  Seemed to become a queenly throne
  Too well that I should let it be
  Light in the wilderness alone.

  I wrapped myself in grandeur then,
  And donned a visionary crown–
  Yet it was not that Fantasy
  Had thrown her mantle over me–
  But that, among the rabble–men,
  Lion ambition is chained down–
  And crouches to a keeper’s hand–
  Not so in deserts where the grand–
  The wild–the terrible conspire
  With their own breath to fan his fire.

  Look ’round thee now on Samarcand!–
  Is she not queen of Earth? her pride
  Above all cities? in her hand
  Their destinies? in all beside
  Of glory which the world hath known
  Stands she not nobly and alone?
  Falling–her veriest stepping-stone
  Shall form the pedestal of a throne–
  And who her sovereign? Timour–he
  Whom the astonished people saw
  Striding o’er empires haughtily
  A diademed outlaw!

  O, human love! thou spirit given,
  On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!
  Which fall’st into the soul like rain
  Upon the Siroc-withered plain,
  And, failing in thy power to bless,
  But leav’st the heart a wilderness!
  Idea! which bindest life around
  With music of so strange a sound
  And beauty of so wild a birth–
  Farewell! for I have won the Earth.

  When Hope, the eagle that towered, could see
  No cliff beyond him in the sky,
  His pinions were bent droopingly–
  And homeward turned his softened eye.
  ‘Twas sunset: When the sun will part
  There comes a sullenness of heart
  To him who still would look upon
  The glory of the summer sun.
  That soul will hate the ev’ning mist
  So often lovely, and will list
  To the sound of the coming darkness (known
  To those whose spirits hearken) as one
  Who, in a dream of night, _would_ fly,
  But _cannot_, from a danger nigh.

  What tho’ the moon–tho’ the white moon
  Shed all the splendor of her noon,
  _Her_ smile is chilly–and _her_ beam,
  In that time of dreariness, will seem
  (So like you gather in your breath)
  A portrait taken after death.
  And boyhood is a summer sun
  Whose waning is the dreariest one–
  For all we live to know is known,
  And all we seek to keep hath flown–
  Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall
  With the noon-day beauty–which is all.
  I reached my home–my home no more–
  For all had flown who made it so.
  I passed from out its mossy door,
  And, tho’ my tread was soft and low,
  A voice came from the threshold stone
  Of one whom I had earlier known–
  O, I defy thee, Hell, to show
  On beds of fire that burn below,
  An humbler heart–a deeper woe.

  Father, I firmly do believe–
  I _know_–for Death who comes for me
  From regions of the blest afar,
  Where there is nothing to deceive,
  Hath left his iron gate ajar.
  And rays of truth you cannot see
  Are flashing thro’ Eternity—-
  I do believe that Eblis hath
  A snare in every human path–
  Else how, when in the holy grove
  I wandered of the idol, Love,–
  Who daily scents his snowy wings
  With incense of burnt-offerings
  From the most unpolluted things,
  Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven
  Above with trellised rays from Heaven
  No mote may shun–no tiniest fly–
  The light’ning of his eagle eye–
  How was it that Ambition crept,
  Unseen, amid the revels there,
  Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt
  In the tangles of Love’s very hair!

The Secret

by Emily Dickinson

Some things that fly there be, –
Birds, hours, the bumble-bee:
Of these no elegy.

Some things that stay there be, –
Grief, hills, eternity:
Nor this behooveth me.

There are, that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the riddle lies!

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!

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘T is some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
                                          Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow:–vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
                                          Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘T is some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;–
                                          This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door;–
                                          Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”
                                          Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore–
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;–
                                          ‘T is the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–
                                          Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore,–
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door–
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                                          With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered–not a feather then he fluttered–
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before–
On the morrow _he_ will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
                                          Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore–
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
                                          Of ‘Never–nevermore.’”

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore–
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
                                          Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er
                                          _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee–by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite–respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!–
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore–
Is there–_is_ there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil–prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above, us–by that God we both adore–
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                                          Shall be lifted–nevermore!

by Edgar Allan Poe

  I saw thee on thy bridal day–
    When a burning blush came o’er thee,
  Though happiness around thee lay,
    The world all love before thee:

  And in thine eye a kindling light
    (Whatever it might be)
  Was all on Earth my aching sight
    Of Loveliness could see.

  That blush, perhaps, was maiden shame–
    As such it well may pass–
  Though its glow hath raised a fiercer flame
    In the breast of him, alas!

  Who saw thee on that bridal day,
    When that deep blush would come o’er thee,
  Though happiness around thee lay,
    The world all love before thee.

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