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Since life is but a dream and ends in night,
Perhaps endless night, what know we more?
Ere feebling age shall waste our youthful might,
Why may our toil-worn spirits not explore
The secrets of some fair, enchanted shore,
And live one moment of supreme delight?
When, with slow, stealthy step, old age creeps on, And shrouds the autumn's lingering flowers in
When life's rich verdure is laid waste and low, And summer's glories are forever gone,
What counterpoise for youth can then be won? When through bare boughs no sap of spring can flow,
And winter winds shall toss them to and fro,
Then for such costly loss, what benison? Spirit of truth and beauty, let our feet
Press ever upward, though the skies may frown, Groping our way through paths untried, yet sure, Thy worshipers; to fame's allurements, sweet, Careless and of her chance-awarded crown, So may we reach thy clime, serene and pure.
Thus, striving, scheming for a brother's place, Some mounted to Life's very topmost round, And stood a moment with exulant face, Heart throbbing full and strong, triumphant breath,
Then, Dead Sea fruit! searching for new worlds, found
Only the dim, pale valley known as Death.
In youth we think we hold the magic key,
The sesame to Eden's golden gate;
What lies beyond, gratuity of Fate,
We can not name, nor can we clearly see,-
Is it illusion or reality?
Secure of it we are, and so we wait,
Deferring still our claim to the estate
Till steals upon us deadly apathy.
We once saw visions, now we but dream dreams;
Once in the future lived, now in the past;
Contented once, but now are done with strife;
Darkness is closing round, but faintly gleams
A lambent light in the great void and vast,
Trembling out on the farthest verge of life.
Life is the miracle of every day,
Wonder of morning, mystery of night,
A beam reflected from an unseen light,
A tide that bears us on an unknown way;
A dream of beauty, when the early ray
Opens a new world to our wondering sight,
A toil and warfare as the hours take flight,
A lonely watch in evening's solemn gray.
"And every living thing shall perish," saith
The voice of Sorrow; "Therefore, are we blind, And only know that we are born to die." "This can not be," replies exultant Faith, "Life is divine! In death we leave behind The mortal part of immortality."
For the best Sonnet (subject: Life) received by the editor on or before September 1, 1889, one hundred dollars. First prize, $50; second prize, $30; third prize, $20.
First prize won by Miss Virna Woods, Sacramento, Cal. Second prize won by Miss Caroline Spencer, Catskill, N. Y. Third prize won by Jasper Barnett Cowdin, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Judges: Charles A. Dana, James Jeffrey Roche, Louise Chandler Moulton, Rowland B. Mahany, Will Carleton, Kate Upson Clark, Allen G. Bigelow and Robert Cameron Rogers.
Number of poems sent in competition 370.
I dreamed a ladder, built of bars of gold,
Reached upward from the earth into the skies,
Lit by the midnight vaults' eternal eyes;
And it was strewn with climbers, timid, bold-
Some flushed with youth's success, some hopeless,
And ever, as they climbed, to my surprise,
I saw, whenever one fell, quick arise
Another to his place and shout, “Behold!"
1. Miss Virna Woods. 2. Miss Caroline Spencer. 3. Jasper Barnett Cowdin. 4. Ralph G. Utter. 5. Mrs. S. R. Allen. 6. Miss Virna Woods. 7. Mary W. Plummer. 8. J. Waller Henry. 9. Aubrey De Vere. 10. Miss Caroline Spencer. 11. Marion Hill. 12. John R. Benson. 13. Maria Louise Eve. 14. H. S. Webster. 15. Christopher Pearse Cranch. 16. Frances L. Mace. 17. Ella Higginson. 18. Harriet S. Morgridge.
"Then glowed the years in Troy, the happy years;
For they were happy, spite the leaguering foe.
HELEN; AFTER TROY.
SHE sat on a low throne of burnished gold-
Still of all women the most beautiful-
Though now't was twenty summers since the day
She fled with Paris o'er the foaming seas.
The morning radiance of her brilliant youth
Had deepened to the fuller flush of noon.
Nor had she lost the will and power to charın;
But these had strengthened with her flowing years.
She gazed into a mirror, and the smile
Which lighted all her face said more than words.
Her power had not departed; she was still
Helen, the only one, the favored child
Of Jupiter and Leda, Sparta's queen.
Then on her hand she leaned her sunny brow,
And lived anew her life. At last she spake:
"Again at home in Sparta," and she smiled.
"How men have fought to win this hand of mine.
First Theseus, when I was a child of ten,
Carried me off to Athens. Much I loved
Great Theseus-as a child may love her sire.
It was a shame to make a wife of one
So tender in her years; but he was crazed
And maddened by my beauty, and I blame
Nor Theseus nor his mother. She, alas!
Paid dearly for it, when my brothers bold,
Castor and Pollux, like two lions rude-
For Theseus to dark Hades had gone down,
Persephone to rescue for his friend—
Ravaged his Athens, bore her shrieking off,
And from a queen made her a Spartan slave.
"Then came my suitors from all parts of Greece,
Contending for my hand, king after king.
And Menelaus was my choice of all;
He was so brave, so handsome and so good.
I never knew a man I liked so well-
That is, to pass long years with. But my life
Grew dull at last, as ev'n the happiest will.
"Then came the Trojan, Paris. Young and gay,
Lithe as a leopard, handsomest of men.
Venus made blind my eyes, or opened them,
For she had promised Paris, when he gave
To her the golden apple and adjudged
Her the most beautiful-affronting thus
Majestic Juno and Minerva grand-
That he should have the fairest wife in all
The land of Greece, or Troy, or the whole world.
And so I fled with Paris. Who wonld not?
I was the prize of all the world in arms.
Men gazed upon my beauty as a thing
Heroes did well to die for. As for me,
I cared little how the contest closed;
For I grew tired at length-
-as we grow tired
Of every thing, I think, in this dull world.
"What did I care when our stern Greeks at last,
Caged in their wooden horse like beasts of prey,
Broke out at night on Troy? I had no fear
When Menelaus with his bloody sword,
Frowning as fierce as if I were his foe,
Entered my door. He was no more than man
And, being man, born to be woman ruled.
I started up and flung my snow-white arms
Around his neck, and kissed him in my joy,
As one who came to set a prisoner free.
"Ask Menelaus, for he knows full well
How I was lured away, all innocent,
By Venus and by Paris. Venus threw
Enchantment round the Trojan, till he seemed
The same as Menelaus. Thus the gods
Work their will on men; the subtle gods!
Besides, my Menelaus knows full well,
For he was told in Egypt by the priests,
I never was in Troy. What there he saw
Was a mere phantom Venus conjured up
To keep her word to Paris, when she found
I could no longer be deceived by her,
And safety sought in Egypt. It was there,
And not in Troy, that I was found at last.
Ask Menelaus, he will tell you so.
He has that faith in me, his own true queen,
Which every husband should have in his wife.
"Cassandra, the wild-eyed, flung at me once
Her scoff that I more warriors had slain
Than famine or the plague. A foolish girl!
At least I ne'er was made a concubine,
As she was Agamemnon's when fell Troy.
What are men born for, if 'tis not to die
In grand heroic war for some great cause,
Some town, or land, or woman? Better thus
Than fill dishonored graves from peaceful beds.
Men live to rule the world; we to rule them.
I think those honored who have died for me.
Troy never had been known, except for me.
Now she shall live forever, with my name
Worn by her as a scepter and a crown.
Paris, Achilles, Agamemnon great,
Ulysses wise, and noble Hector, too,
Immortal are by me. Had I not lived
The woman that I am, then they were dead.
"I might have droned on, Meneleaus' wife,
Scolded my maids, had many children, too,
And that been all. But now I am a name!
"I wonder shall I more adventures prove?
I fear not; for the prophet Proteus says,
Nor I nor Menelaus e'er shall die,
But shall by the wise gods be led ere long
Together to Elysium. Well, the gods
Have a sure eye for beauty; so who knows
What then may be? For one, I'll live my life,
And fill its cup with nectar to the brim,
Be it in Greece or in Elysium fair.
"But here comes Menelaus; dull, good man.
He lacks the grace of Paris, and his love
A trifle wearies me. But he is rich
And is alive. Poor Paris! he is dead!
Sweet Menelaus, have you just returned?
You know how I have missed you. Kiss me, dear!"
RONDEAU TO HELEN.
HELEN of Troy was passing fair
With the light of love in her golden hair;
But the light of love was turned to flame,
The voice of praise to a sound of shame,
And the Grecian curse to Troy's despair.
This was she whose name you bear,
But something in your portrait there
Makes me think of another name,
Helen of Troy:
Andromache, whose heart could share
Great Hector's valiance, yet could care
For all sweet things that make the fame
Of woman sweetest, and proclaim
The Trojan wife more loved than e'er
Helen of Troy.
LONG years ago he bore me to a land beyond the
To a city fair and stately, that renowned must ever be
Through all ages yet to follow, for the light shed there by me.
I am Helen; where is Troy?
They have told me not a roof-tree nor a wall is standing now,
That o'erthrown is the great altar, where ten thousand once did bow,
While on high to Aphrodite rose the solemn hymn and vow.
I am Helen; where is Troy?
Do they deem thus the story of my life will pass away?
Troy betrayed, and all who loved me slain upon that fatal day,
Shall but make the memory of me evermore with men to stay.
I am Helen; where is Troy?
Fools! to dream that time can ever make the tale of Troy grow old;
Buried now is every hero, and the grass green o'er the mold,
But of her they fought and died for, every age shall yet be told.
I am Helen; where is Troy?
TROY has fallen; and never will be
War like the war that was waged for me.
Could I but have those ten years back again
With the love, and the glory, the pleasure like pain,
The clash of arms and the din of the fight,
The feasting and music, the color and light!
Yet, mixed with it all, there sounded to me
Ever a moan from the far-off sea.
There still remains this for all time to be:
The war of the world was fought for me.
Give them no pity who died for me there,
Men can never more die for a face so fair.
And what does it matter that now they lie,
Quiet and silent beneath the sky?
Remember that none evermore can be
Back for those years in Troy with me.
THEY reach'd the Scaean towers, Where Priam sat, to see the fight, with all his counselors:
Panthous, Lampus, Clytius and stout Hicetaon, Thymoetes, wise Antenor and profound Ucalegon; All grave old men; and soldiers they had been, but for age
Now left the wars; yet counselors they were exceedingly sage.
And as in well-grown woods, on trees, cold spiny grasshoppers
Sit chirping, and send voices out that scarce can pierce our ears