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by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

“The Happiest Day”

by Edgar Allan Poe
     I.       The happiest day–the happiest hour
                My seared and blighted heart hath known,
              The highest hope of pride and power,
                I feel hath flown.
     II.      Of power! said I? Yes! such I ween
                But they have vanished long, alas!
              The visions of my youth have been–
                But let them pass.
     III.     And pride, what have I now with thee?
                Another brow may ev’n inherit
              The venom thou hast poured on me–
                Be still my spirit!
     IV.      The happiest day–the happiest hour
                Mine eyes shall see–have ever seen
              The brightest glance of pride and power
                I feel have been:
     V.       But were that hope of pride and power
                Now offered with the pain
              Ev’n _then_ I felt–that brightest hour
                I would not live again:

     VI.      For on its wing was dark alloy
                And as it fluttered–fell
              An essence–powerful to destroy
                A soul that knew it well.

The Price of Victory

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

“A victory! –a victory!”
  Is flashed across the wires;
Speed, speed the news from State to State,
  Light up the signal fires!
Let all the bells from all the towers
  A joyous peal ring out;
We’ve gained a glorious victory,
  And put the foe to rout!

A mother heard the chiming bells;
  Her joy was mixed with pain.
“Pray God,” she said, “my gallant boy
  Be not among the slain!”
Alas for her! that very hour
  Outstretched in death he lay,
The color from his fair, young face
  Had scarcely passed away.

His nerveless hand still grasped the sword.
  He never more might wield,
His eyes were sealed in dreamless sleep
  Upon that bloody field.
The chestnut curls his mother oft
  Had stroked in fondest pride,
Neglected hung ia clotted locks,
  With deepest crimson dyed.

Ah! many a mother’s heart shall ache,
  And bleed with anguish sore,
When tidings come of him who marched
  So blithely forth to war.
Oh! sad for them, the stricken down
  In manhood’s early dawn,
And sadder yet for loving hearts.
  God comfort them that mourn!

Yes, victory has a fearful price
  Our hearts may shrink to pay,
And tears will mingle with the joy
  That greets a glorious day.
But he who dies in freedom’s cause,
  We cannot count him lost;
A battle won for truth and right
  Is worth the blood it cost!

O mothers! count it something gained
  That they, for whom you mourn,
Bequeath fair Freedom’s heritage
  To millions yet unborn;–
And better than a thousand years
  Of base, ignoble breath,
A patriot’s fragrant memory,
  A hero’s early death!

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.

Silence

by Edgar Allan Poe
  There are some qualities–some incorporate things,
    That have a double life, which thus is made
  A type of that twin entity which springs
    From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
  There is a twofold Silence–sea and shore–
    Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
    Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,
  Some human memories and tearful lore,
  Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”
  He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
    No power hath he of evil in himself;
  But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
    Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
  That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
  No foot of man), commend thyself to God!

Exclusion

by Emily Dickinson

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

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!

The Conqueror Worm

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Lo! ’tis a gala night
    Within the lonesome latter years!
  An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
    In veils, and drowned in tears,
  Sit in a theatre, to see
    A play of hopes and fears,
  While the orchestra breathes fitfully
    The music of the spheres.

  Mimes, in the form of God on high,
    Mutter and mumble low,
  And hither and thither fly–
    Mere puppets they, who come and go
  At bidding of vast formless things
    That shift the scenery to and fro,
  Flapping from out their Condor wings
    Invisible Wo!

  That motley drama–oh, be sure
    It shall not be forgot!
  With its Phantom chased for evermore,
    By a crowd that seize it not,
  Through a circle that ever returneth in
    To the self-same spot,
  And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
    And Horror the soul of the plot.

  But see, amid the mimic rout
    A crawling shape intrude!
  A blood-red thing that writhes from out
    The scenic solitude!
  It writhes!–it writhes!–with mortal pangs
    The mimes become its food,
  And the angels sob at vermin fangs
    In human gore imbued.

  Out–out are the lights–out all!
    And, over each quivering form,
  The curtain, a funeral pall,
    Comes down with the rush of a storm,
  And the angels, all pallid and wan,
    Uprising, unveiling, affirm
  That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
    And its hero the Conqueror Worm.

Dreams

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
  My spirit not awakening, till the beam
  Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
  Yes! though that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
  ‘Twere better than the cold reality
  Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
  And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
  A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
  But should it be–that dream eternally
  Continuing–as dreams have been to me
  In my young boyhood–should it thus be given,
  ‘Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
  For I have revelled when the sun was bright
  I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light
  And loveliness,–have left my very heart
  Inclines of my imaginary apart [1]
  From mine own home, with beings that have been
  Of mine own thought–what more could I have seen?
  ‘Twas once–and only once–and the wild hour
  From my remembrance shall not pass–some power
  Or spell had bound me–’twas the chilly wind
  Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
  Its image on my spirit–or the moon
  Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
  Too coldly–or the stars–howe’er it was
  That dream was that that night-wind–let it pass.
  _I have been_ happy, though in a dream.
  I have been happy–and I love the theme:
  Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life
  As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
  Of semblance with reality which brings
  To the delirious eye, more lovely things
  Of Paradise and Love–and all my own!–
  Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

Each and All

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown
Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
The heifer that lows in the upland farm,
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon,
Deems not that great Napoleon
Stops his horse, and lists with delight,
Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height;
Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbor’s creed has lent.
All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.
I thought the sparrow’s note from heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home, in his nest, at even;
He sings the song, but it cheers not now,
For I did not bring home the river and sky;–
He sang to my ear,–they sang to my eye.
The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave,
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me.
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore
With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar.
The lover watched his graceful maid,
As ‘mid the virgin train she strayed,
Nor knew her beauty’s best attire
Was woven still by the snow-white choir.
At last she came to his hermitage,
Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage;–
The gay enchantment was undone,
A gentle wife, but fairy none.
Then I said, ‘I covet truth;
Beauty is unripe childhood’s cheat;
I leave it behind with the games of youth:’–
As I spoke, beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moss burrs;
I inhaled the violet’s breath;
Around me stood the oaks and firs;
Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground;
Over me soared the eternal sky.
Full of light and of deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;–
Beauty through my senses stole;
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.

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