Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

HANNAH JANE.

She isn't half so handsome as when twenty years agone,
At her old home in Piketon, Parson Avery made us one:
The great house crowded full of guests of every degree,
The girls all envying Hannah Jane, the boys all envying me.

Her fingers then were taper, and her skin as white as milk,
Her brown hair—what a mess it was! and soft and fine as silk;
No wind-moved willow by a brook had ever such a grace,
The form of Aphrodite, with a pure Madonna face.

She had but meager schooling; her little notes to me,
Were full of crooked pothooks, and the worst orthography:
Her" dear" she spelled with double e, and kiss with but one s
But when one's crazed with passion, what's a letter more or less?

She blundered in her writing and she blundered when she spoke,
And every rule of syntax that old Murray made, she broke;
But she was beautiful and fresh, and I-well, I was young,
Her form and face o'er balanced all the blunders of her tongue.

I was but little better. True, I'd longer been at school;
My tongue and pen were run, perhaps, a little more by rule;
But that was all. The neigbors round, who both of us well knew,
Said-which I believed-she was the better of the two.

All's changed; the light of seventeen's no longer in her eyes,
Her wavy hair is gone-that loss the coiffeur's art supplies;
Her form is thin and angular; she slightly forward bends;
Her fingers once so shapely, now are stumpy at the ends.

She knows but very little, and in little are we one;

The beauty rare, that more than hid that great defect is gone. My parvenu relations now deride my homely wife,

And pity me that I am tied to such a clod for life.

I know there is a difference; at reception and levee,

The brightest, wittiest, and most famed of women smile on me;

And everywhere I hold my place among the greatest men; And sometimes sigh with Whittier's judge, "Alas! it might have been."

When they all crowd around me, stately dames and brilliant belles,

And yield to me the homage that all great success compels,
Discussing art and statecraft, and literature as well,
From Homer down to Thackeray, and Swedenborg on "Hell,"

I can't forget that from these streams my wife has never quaffed, Has never with Ophelia wept, nor with Jack Falstaff laughed; Of authors, actors, artists-why, she hardly knows the names; She slept while I was speaking on the Alabama claims.

I can't forget-just at this point another form appears-
The wife I wedded as she was before my prosperous years;
I travel o'er the dreary road we traveled side by side,
And wonder what my share would be, if Justice should decide.

She had four hundred dollars left her from the old estate;
On that we married, and, thus poorly armored, faced our fate,
I wrestled with my books; her task was harder far than mine-
'Twas how to make two hundred dollars do the work of nine.

At last I was admitted, then I had my legal lore,

An office with a stove and desk, of books perhaps a score;
She had her beauty and her youth, and some housewifely skill,
And love for me, and faith in me, and back of that, a will.

Ah! how she cried for joy when my first legal fight was won
When our eclipse passed partly by, and we stood in the sun!
The fee was fifty dollars-'twas the work of half a year-
First captive, lean and scraggy, of my legal bow and spear.

I well remember, when my coat (the only one I had)

Was seedy grown and threadbare, and, in fact, most "shocking bad,"

The tailor's stern remark when I a modest order made;
"Cash is the basis, sir, on which we tailors do our trade."

Her winter cloak was in his shop by noon that very day,

She wrought on hickory shirts at night that tailor's skill to pay; I got a coat and wore it; but, alas! poor Hannah Jane

Ne'er went to church or lecture, till warm weather came again.

Our second season she refused a cloak of any sort,
That I might have a decent suit in which t'appear in court;
She made her last year's bonnet do, that I might have a hat;
Talk of the old-time, flame-enveloped martyrs after that!

No negro ever worked so hard; a servant's pay to save
She made herself most willingly a household drudge and slave.
What wonder that she never read a magazine or book,
Combining as she did in one, nurse, housemaid, seamstress, cook!

What wonder that the beauty fled that I once so adored!
Her beautiful complexion my fierce kitchen fire devoured;
Her plump, soft, rounded arm was once too fair to be concealed;
Hard work for me that softness into sinewy strength congealed.

I was her altar, and her love the sacrificial flame;

Ah! with what pure devotion she to that altar came,

And, tearful, flung thereon-alas! I did not know it then

All that she was, and more than that, all that she might have been!

At last I won success. Ah! then our lives were wider parted. I was far up the rising road; she, poor girl, where we started.

I had tried my speed and mettle, and gained strength in every

race;

I was far up the heights of life-she drudging at the base.

She made me take each fall the stump; she said t'was my career; The wild applause of list'ning crowds was music to my ear. What stimulus had she to cheer her dreary solitude?

For me she lived on gladly, in unnatural widowhood.

She couldn't read my speech, but when the papers all agreed
T'was the best one of the session, those comments she could read;

And with a gush of pride thereat, which I had never felt,
She sent them to me in a note with half the words misspelt

At twenty-eight the Statehouse; on the bench at thirty-three;

At forty every gate in life was opened wide to me.

I nursed my powers and grew, and made my point in life, but she

Bearing such pack-horse weary loads, what could a woman be?

What could she be! Oh, shame! I blush to think what she has
been,

The most unselfish of all wives to the selfishest of men.
Yes, plain and homely now she is; she's ignorant, 'tis true;
For me she rubbed herself quite out; I represent the two.

Well, I suppose that I might do as other men have done-
First break her heart with cold neglect, then shove her out alone.
The world would say 'twas well, and more, would give great
praise to me,

For having borne with "such a wife" so uncomplainingly.

And shall I? No! The contract 'twixt Hannah, God and me,
Was not for one or twenty years, but for eternity.

No matter what the world may think; I know down in my heart
That, if either, I'm delinquent; she has bravely done her part.

There's another world beyond this; and, on the final day,
Will intellect and learning 'gainst such devotion weigh?
When the great one, made of us two, is torn apart again,
I'll yield the palm, for God is just, and he knows Hannah Jane.
PETROLEUM V. NASBY (D. R. LOCKE).

AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A MAD DOG.

Good people all of every sort,

Give ear unto my song;

And if you find it wondrous short,

It can not hold you long.

In Islington there lived a man,

Of whom the world might say,

That still a goodly race he ran
Whene'er he went to pray.

A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad
When he put on his clothes.

And in that town a dog was found,

As many dogs there be,

Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,

And curs of low degree.

This dog and man at first were friends;

But when a pique began,

The dog, to gain his private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.

Around from all the neighboring streets
The wondering neighbors ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits,

To bite so good a man.

The wound it seemed both sore and sad

To every Christian eye;

And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.

But soon a wonder came to light,
That showed the rogues they lied:

The man recovered of the bite,

The dog it was that died.

OLIVER GO OSMITA

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »