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King Cotton

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

King Cotton looks from his window
  Towards the westering sun,
And he marks, with an anguished horror,
  That his race is almost run.

His form is thin and shrunken;
  His cheek is pale and wan;
And the lines of care on his furrowed brow
  Are dread to look upon.

But yesterday a monarch,
  In the flush of his pomp and pride,
And, not content with his own broad lands,
  He would rule the world beside.

He built him a stately palace,
  With gold from beyond the sea;
And he laid with care the corner-stone,
  And he called it Slavery:

He summoned an army with banners,
  To keep his foes at bay;
And, gazing with pride on his palace walls,
  He said, “They will stand for aye!”

But the palace walls are shrunken,
  And partly overthrown,
And the storms of war, in their violence,
  Have loosened the corner-stone.

Now Famine stalks through the palace halls,
  With her gaunt and pallid train;
You can hear the cries of famished men,
  As they cry for bread in vain.

The king can see, from his palace walls.
  A land by his pride betrayed;
Thousands of mothers and wives bereft.
  Thousands of graves new-made.

And he seems to see, in the lowering sky,
  The shape of a flaming sword;
Whereon he reads, with a sinking heart,
  The anger of the Lord.

God speed the time when the guilty king
  Shall be hurled from his blood-stained throne;
And the palace of Wrong shall crumble to dust,
  With its boasted corner-stone.

A temple of Freedom shall rise instead,
  On the desecrated site:
And within its shelter alike shall stand
  The black man and the white.


by Horatio Alger, Jr.

I sit in the shadow of apple-boughs,
  In the fragrant orchard close,
And around me floats the scented air,
  With its wave-like tidal flows.
I close my eyes in a dreamy bliss,
  And call no king my peer;
For is not this the rare, sweet time,
  The blossoming time of the year?

I lie on a couch of downy grass,
  With delicate blossoms strewn,
And I feel the throb of Nature’s heart
  Responsive to my own.
Oh, the world is fair, and God is good,
  That maketh life so dear;
For is not this the rare, sweet time,
  The blossoming time of the year?                                 

I can see, through the rifts of the apple-boughs,
  The delicate blue of the sky,                              
And the changing clouds with their marvellous tints
  That drift so lazily by.
And strange, sweet thoughts sing through my brain,
  And Heaven, it seemeth near;
Oh, is it not a rare, sweet time,
  The blossoming time of the year?


by Horatio Alger, Jr.
It is the year’s high noon,
  The earth sweet incense yields,
  And o’er the fresh, green fields
Bends the clear sky of June.

I leave the crowded streets,
  The hum of busy life,
  Its clamor and its strife,
To breathe thy perfumed sweets.

O rare and golden hours!
  The bird’s melodious song,
  Wavelike, is borne along
Upon a strand of flowers.

I wander far away,
  Where, through the forest trees,
  Sports the cool summer breeze,
In wild and wanton play.

A patriarchal elm
  Its stately form uprears,
  Which twice a hundred years
Has ruled this woodland realm.

I sit beneath its shade,
  And watch, with careless eye,
  The brook that babbles by,
And cools the leafy glade.

In truth I wonder not,
  That in the ancient days
  The temples of God’s praise
Were grove and leafy grot.

The noblest ever planned,
  With quaint device and rare,
  By man, can ill compare
With these from God’s own hand.

Pilgrim with way-worn feet,
  Who, treading life’s dull round,
  No true repose hast found,
Come to this green retreat.

For bird, and flower, and tree,
  Green fields, and woodland wild,
  Shall bear, with voices mild,
Sweet messages to thee.

by Emily Dickinson

I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love; but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.


by Emily Dickinson
Elysium is as far as to
The very nearest room,
If in that room a friend await
Felicity or doom.

What fortitude the soul contains,
That it can so endure
The accent of a coming foot,
The opening of a door!

The Valley of Unrest

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Once it smiled a silent dell
  Where the people did not dwell;
  They had gone unto the wars,
  Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
  Nightly, from their azure towers,
  To keep watch above the flowers,
  In the midst of which all day
  The red sun-light lazily lay,
  Now each visitor shall confess
  The sad valley’s restlessness.
  Nothing there is motionless–
  Nothing save the airs that brood
  Over the magic solitude.
  Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
  That palpitate like the chill seas
  Around the misty Hebrides!
  Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
  That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
  Unceasingly, from morn till even,
  Over the violets there that lie
  In myriad types of the human eye–
  Over the lilies that wave
  And weep above a nameless grave!
  They wave:–from out their fragrant tops
  Eternal dews come down in drops.
  They weep:–from off their delicate stems
  Perennial tears descend in gems.

by Emily Dickinson

Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.

Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
Afterwards — day!

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.


Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought.
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through, and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘T was brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.


by Horatio Alger, Jr.

In the hushed hours of night, when the air quite still,
I hear the strange cry of the lone whippoorwill,
Who Chants, without ceasing, that wonderful trill,
Of which the sole burden is still, “Whip-poor-Will.”

And why should I whip him? Strange visitant,
Has he been playing truant this long summer day?
I listened a moment; more clear and more shrill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

But what has poor Will done? I ask you once more;
I’ll whip him, don’t fear, if you’ll tell me what for.
I paused for an answer; o’er valley and hill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Has he come to your dwelling, by night or by day,
And snatched the young birds from their warm nest away?
I paused for an answer; o’er valley and hill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Well, well, I can hear you, don’t have any fears,
I can hear what is constantly dinned in my ears.
The obstinate bird, with his wonderful trill,
Still made but one answer, and that, “Whip-poor-Will.”

But what HAS poor Will done? I prithee explain;
I’m out of all patience, don’t mock me again.
The obstinate bird, with his wonderful trill,
Still made the same answer, and that, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Well, have your own way, then; but if you won’t tell,
I’ll shut down the window, and bid you farewell;
But of one thing be sure, I won’t whip him until
You give me some reason for whipping poor Will.

I listened a moment, as if for reply,
But nothing was heard but the bird’s mocking cry.
I caught the faint echo from valley and hill;   
It breathed the same burden, that strange “Whip-poor-Will.”

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