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SUSAN COOLIDGE.

229

'Twas a pastime to watch, solemn, perched on

some limb,

The kingfisher scanning the waters below, Till close to the surface some "shiner" should swim,

Then see him shoot down like a shaft from a bow.

The splash of his falling and lifting his prey
Was followed by plunges of terrified frogs,
When lake turtles drew in their heads in dismay,
And dropped in the water from shore-clinging
logs.

'T was a study to note how the catfish would take
Her great family with her, as if for a stroll,
A black cloud of young bull-heads, they followed
her wake,

Gliding close to the strando'er the pebble-floored shoal.

With what care would she guide them! how oft turn about

To see if her ebony darlings were there!
How playfully toss them upon her blunt snout!
How hurry them off when of danger aware!

'T was a joy to behold, on their wide-arching wings,

The white gulls careering about through the air; But the wheeling black eagles, the fierce forest kings,

When afloat o'er the woods, brought both joy and despair.

Once I watched one of these, up away, proudly soar In the blue, cloudless heavens, a speck as black as night;

While a craving came o'er me I n'er felt before, And I envied the monarch his powers of flight.

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M

SUSAN COOLIDGE.

ISS SARAH CHAUNCEY WOOLSEY, known in the literary world as Susan Coolidge, stands in the front rank of American female poets. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, about 1845, and now resides in Newport, R. I. She is a niece of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, the celebrated educator. Facts conceruing her daily life she reserves to herself, believing a writer's personality can best be found in his works. She has published two volumes of poems: "Verses," in 1880, and" A Few More Verses," in 1889. She is a prolific writer for the press in prose and verse. Her prose publications include: "A Guernsey Lily," "A Little Country Girl," "A Short History of the City of Philadelphia," besides a number of books for children. H. A. T.

INFLUENCE.

COUCHED in the rocky lap of hills,
The lake's blue waters gleam,
And thence in linked and measured rills
Down to the valley stream,

To rise again, led higher and higher,
And slake the city's hot desire.

High as the lake's bright ripples shine,
So high the water goes,

But not a drop that air-drawn line
Passes or overflows;

Though man may strive and man may woo,
The stream to its own law is true.

Vainly the lonely tarn its cup

Holds to the feeding skies; Unless the source be lifted up, The streamlet can not rise: By law inexorably blent, Each is the other's measurement.

Ah, lonely tarn! ah, striving rill!
So yearn these souls of ours,
And beat with sad and urgent will

Against the unheeding powers.
In vain is longing, vain is force;
No stream goes higher than its source.

WHEN?

IF I were told that I must die to-morrow,
That the next sun

Which sinks should bear me past all fear and sorrow
For any one,

All the fight fought, all the short journey through: What should I do?

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THANK God for life! Life is not sweet always.
Hands may be heavy-laden, hearts care full,
Unwelcome nights follow unwelcome days,

And dreams divine end in awakening dull;
Still it is life, and life is cause for praise.
This ache, this restlessness, this quickening sting,
Prove me no torpid and inanimate thing,
Prove me of Him who is of life the spring.
I am alive, and that is beautiful.

Thank God for love! Though love may hurt and wound,

Though set with sharpest thorns its rose may be, Roses are not of winter; all attuned

Must be the earth, full of soft stir, and free And warm ere dawns the rose upon its tree. Fresh currents through my frozen pulses run; My heart has tasted summer, tasted sun, And I thank Thee, Lord, although not one Of all the many roses blooms for me.

Thank God for death! Bright thing with dreamy

name,

We wrong with mournful flowers her pure, still

brow,

We heap her with reproaches and with blame,
Her goodness and her fitness disallow,
Questioning bitterly on her why and how.
But calmly mid her clamor and surmise
She touches each in turn, and each grows wise.
Taught by the light in her mysterious eyes,
I shall be glad, and I am thankful now.

SORROW.

Men die, but sorrow never dies.

The crowding years divide in vain, And the wide world is knit with ties Of common brotherhood in pain, Of common share in grief and loss, And heritage in the immortal bloom Of Love, which, flowering round its cross, Made beautiful a baby's tomb.

-The Cradle Tomb.

MORNING.

To each, one dawning and one dew,
One fresh young hour is given by fate,
One rose flush on the early blue.

Be not impatient, then, but wait!
Clasp the sweet peace on earth and sky
By midnight angels woven and spun;
Better than day its prophecy,

The morning comes before the sun. -Before the Sun.

LABOR.

Lo! amid the press,

The whirl, and hum, and pressure of my day,

I hear Thy garment's sweep, Thy seamless dress, And close beside my work and weariness

Discern Thy gracious form, not far away,
But very near, O, Lord! to help and bless.
The busy fingers fly, the eyes may see

Only the glancing needle which they hold,
But all my life is blossoming inwardly,
And every breath is like a litany;

While through each labor, like a thread of gold, Is woven the sweet consciousness of Thee!

-Laborare Est Orare.

LIFE.

PRIZE SONNETS.

FIRST PRIZE.

1.

This way he passed; I saw his shadow fall,
If shadow it might be that brightness shed
Adown the tangled path, where lightly sped
His glancing feet; I heard his mellow call,
Then caught a glimpse of nymph and bacchanal
(Or so they seemed), from Arcady long fled;
A glory lingered from his haloed head.
Through thymy dell and thorny-thicket wall,
Lo! I have followed all the mazy way,
And overtake him, hid in covert deep;
The nymphs are gone, and see! he lies asleep;
But oh, the pity! he is old and gray,

His cheeks are furrowed with tears he learned to weep,

His garments stained with travel of the day.

SECOND PRIZE.

2.

That life is brief hath seemed a piteous thing
Since the first mortal watched it glide away.
And sad it is that flowers have but one day,
And sad that birds have little time to sing,
And that a hint, a breath, is all of Spring,
That youth so soon is startled from its play,
And love from its devotion, to essay
The old vain struggle with the shadowy King.
But sadder far it is that life is long;

Ay, long enough for bliss to turn to bale,
For innocence to lose the dread of wrong,
For hearts to harden, love itself to fail,
And faith be wearied out (O, sad and strange!)
Unless Death save us from the deathly change.

THIRD PRIZE.

3.

The seed of Eden grows, there's no decay;
Though bards may twang disconsolate, and men
Of pessimistic outlook wield the pen,
Fear not; the age is not so far astray,
God's mighty wonders are upon their way!
Old-time sincerity will call again;

And some high souls have even now in ken
The dawning of the bright supernal day.
Faith is alive and still performs the deed,

While scorners dally in an aimless quest. The waves of unbelief mount and recede,

And jar the century with strong unrest; They carry back the sands of many a creed, But only leave the Rock more manifest.

SPECIAL MENTION.

4.

Silent upon the sands of Egypt stand

The pyramids that centuries have crowned; And, clothed with mystery, the sphinx has frowned Upon the storied ruins of the land,

Strange monuments, that finite minds have planned
And reared above the honored of their dead,
Forgetting life is deathless, that, instead

Of crumbling ashes in a mummy's hand,
The flower-germ still survives to bloom anew
In other lands across the surging sea.
So death must finish what he has to do
Ere life, divinely given, is set free.

His hand but holds the dust, the soul passed through.

While life is widened through eternity.

5.

Life seems almost a circle, its two ends
A little parted. In the space between
Lie flow'ry cradle, narrow marge of green.
Soon both are left behind. The road ascends.
From are to arc the rugged pathway trends,
On-leading to some fair and tranquil scene,
With golden fields to harvest, or to glean,
As toward the central arch man eager wends.

Then from that center down the thither slope With lessened strength he gropes, e'en as the blind, Till, taught by faith, and in her courage brave,

Chastened by fear, yet triumphing in hope,
He stumbles to life's starting-point to find
The cradle ashes, the green marge a grave.
6.

We hold thee up against the infinite,

The mirror that reflects the great unseen
In parted fragments, from thy shadows glean
The little that we know of love and light.
As in a chasmed lake are limned the height
Of mountains and the valley-rifts between,
O'er thee the mysteries of being lean;
Across thy face like clouds the years take flight.
The broken images of thought divine,

The prism colors of the eternal flame,
The mysteries we feel, but may not name,
Upon thy dark and wind-stirred waters shine.
And over thee, illimitably great,

Bend the unfathomed deeps of Death and Fate.

7.

Life, we, thy children, cling about thy knees

And pray for largess; some are babes that turn Sweet faces, sure of answer, yet to learn What suns may shine and they be left to freeze;

And some cast fiercely at the words that burn,

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Or all thy steps with bitter plainings tease
And some, grown mute from many unheard pleas,
Go from thee, looking back with eyes that yearn;
What charm is in unmotherly caprice,
That, rather than be led to endless peace,

We court on bended knee thy constant frown,
Yea, even invite the smiting of thy hand,
So we stay with thee? Shall we understand,
When thou hast loosed our fingers from thy gown?
8.

All souls are poets, writing for a prize,

And "Life," the theme that heads the work of all; The works of some are ponderous, others, small, But they'll be judged by merit, not by size; And every gem of truth that snugly lies

Half-hid by rubbish, soon or late, shall fall Into the scale of Justice, when the eyes Of one Great Judge must rightly weigh them all, And give each soul a just and due reward But once, and that for aye! Ne'er can there be A second trial! Then, ye authors! guard And guide aright Life's poetry

In paths of truth, for in Life's book a bard Writes not for Time, but for Eternity!

9.

"Worth living?" Not to listless souls who deem That Life should be a bed of Persian roses, Where Pleasure vigil keeps, and Duty dozes, While the strong hours go by us like a dream. "Worth living?" Not to him who hunts a gleam Across Ambition's desert, and supposes

His name shall flourish when his life-time closes, A fool's name writ but in a fleeting stream.

"Is Life worth living?" Not to men who creep From sunny vale to cliff cloud-rain-scented, Only to hear, far down, the moaning deep, And see sand-wastes with bones of dead men spread, Then fling the Agnostic's question on the air, And with the name of Progress gild Despair.

10.

When she, the mother-mystery of old days,
Isis, Demeter, famed by many a name,
To seek her ravished love a wanderer came,
Teaching the winds her lone lamenting lays,
And loading echo with the loved one's praise,
'Tis told how, to her hidden heart of flame

She pressed a mortal, yet a princely child,
And with a nurse's cares her grief beguiled.
O, Life, of whom all parables are told!

Thou art the Goddess-Pilgrim, who hast taught All things to mourn with thee thy lost desire. Man is the nursling whom thine arms enfold, Whom secretly thy God-like spells have wrought, To make immortal with a bath of fire!

11.

The vex'd sea murmurs in the tinted shell;
Grief treads upon the robes of happiness;
Content is only wistfulness grown less;
Beneath the anthem tolls the muffled knell.
We train our lips to utter, "All is well,"
But yet, oh, weary, honest heart, confess
The cries of Hagar from the wilderness
Outsound the vibrant lute of Israfel.
Yea, as a child, through troubled slumber, still
Knows that the daylight will his fears confine,
So in this life, our anchored hope supreme
Is the blest knowledge that, in time, we will
Wake in the glory of a Dawn Divine

With raptured song, to find the past a dream.

12.

Deep in the shade, where drowsing insects drum,
And the light zephyrs sport among the boughs,
While, far away, I hear the lowing cows,

I yield to rest, and bid contentment come.
Such life to me is joy, but not to some;

Bewildering Trade alone their blood can rouse; Or War, to bind the laurel round their brows! Give me but Peace, with all the charms of Home. O, Life! thou art, to me, yon raptured bird, Thou art the blue of yonder sun-warmed skies,

The ringing laugh of children at their play.
I can forego the deeds that Earth have stirred;
Grant me but loyal hearts, and loving eyes,

And tender hands to cherish, while I stay.
13.

O, happy heads of yellow, waving wheat!
Enough for you, when life and skies are fair,
To toss your tawny tassels in the air,
Or drink with parched lips the night dews sweet.
All summer you have borne the burning heat,
Have stood in wind and storm, with bosom bare,
And green beard streaming like a mermaid's hair,
That for another summer, fair and fleet,

Your life may waken at her fervid kiss.

O, Life, have you not something yet more dear
For them that through your storms of joy and pain
Shall patient be, for what comes after this,
The Life that is the flower of living here,
Divinely wrapt in that immortal grain?

14.

Had I been master of that fateful bark
Which bore Ulysses o'er the foaming sea,
I had not been so resolute as he,
What time the sirens tempted him to mark
How they could sing more sweetly than the lark,
As she mounts upward from the morning lea,
While their white limbs, from spot or blemish free,
Were pictured on the rocks' relentless dark.

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