AN OLD SWEETHEART OF MINE
As one who cons at evening o'er an album all alone,And muses on the faces of the friends that he has known,So I turn the leaves of fancy till, in shadowy design,I find the smiling features of an old sweetheart of mine.
The lamplight seems to glimmer with a flicker of surprise,As I turn it low to rest me of the dazzle in my eyes,And light my pipe in silence, save a sigh that seems to yokeIts fate with my tobacco and to vanish with the smoke.'Tis a fragrant retrospection—for the loving thoughts that startInto being are like perfume from the blossom of the heart;And to dream the old dreams over is a luxury divine—When my truant fancy wanders with that old sweetheart of mine.Though I hear, beneath my study, like a fluttering of wings,The voices of my children, and the mother as she sings,I feel no twinge of conscience to deny me any themeWhen Care has cast her anchor in the harbor of a dream.
In fact, to speak in earnest, I believe it adds a charmTo spice the good a trifle with a little dust of harm—For I find an extra flavor in Memory's mellow wineThat makes me drink the deeper to that old sweetheart of mine.
A face of lily-beauty, with a form of airy grace,Floats out of my tobacco as the genii from the vase;And I thrill beneath the glances of a pair of azure eyesAs glowing as the summer and as tender as the skies.I can see the pink sunbonnet and the little checkered dressShe wore when first I kissed her and she answered the caressWith the written declaration that, "as surely as the vineGrew round the stump," she loved me—that old sweetheart of mine.
And again I feel the pressure of her slender little hand,As we used to talk together of the future we had planned—When I should be a poet, and with nothing else to doBut write the tender verses that she set the music to:When we should live together in a cozy little cotHid in a nest of roses, with a fairy garden-spot,Where the vines were ever fruited, and the weather ever fine,And the birds were ever singing for that old sweetheart of mine:
When I should be her lover forever and a day,And she my faithful sweetheart till the golden hair was gray;And we should be so happy that when either's lips were dumbThey would not smile in Heaven till the other's kiss had come.
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But, ah! my dream is broken by a step upon the stair,And the door is softly opened, and—my wife is standing there;Yet with eagerness and rapture all my visions I resignTo greet the living presence of that old sweetheart of mine.
A' OLD PLAYED-OUT SONG
It's the curiousest thing in creation,Whenever I hear that old song"Do They Miss Me at Home," I'm so bothered,My life seems as short as it's long!—Fer ev'rything 'pears like adzacklyIt 'peared in the years past and gone,—When I started out sparkin', at twenty,And had my first neckercher on!Though I'm wrinkelder, older and grayerRight now than my parents was then,You strike up that song "Do They Miss Me,"And I'm jest a youngster again!—I'm a-standin' back thare in the furriesA-wishin' fer evening to come,And a-whisperin' over and overThem words "Do They Miss Me at Home?"You see, Marthy Ellen she sung itThe first time I heerd it; and so,As she was my very first sweetheart,It reminds me of her, don't you know;—How her face used to look, in the twilight,As I tuck her to Spellin'; and sheKep' a-hummin' that song tel I ast her,Pine-blank, ef she ever missed me!I can shet my eyes now, as you sing it,And hear her low answerin' words;And then the glad chirp of the crickets,As clear as the twitter of birds;And the dust in the road is like velvet,And the ragweed and fennel and grassIs as sweet as the scent of the liliesOf Eden of old, as we pass."Do They Miss Me at Home?" Sing it lower—And softer—and sweet as the breezeThat powdered our path with the snowyWhite bloom of the old locus'-trees!Let the whipperwills he'p you to sing it,And the echoes 'way over the hill,Tel the moon boolges out, in a chorusOf stars, and our voices is still.
But oh! "They's a chord in the musicThat's missed when her voice is away!"Though I listen from midnight tel morning,And dawn tel the dusk of the day!And I grope through the dark, lookin' up'ardsAnd on through the heavenly dome,With my longin' soul singin' and sobbin'The words "Do They Miss Me at Home?"
A VERY YOUTHFUL AFFAIR
I'm bin a-visitun 'bout a weekTo my little Cousin's at Nameless Creek,An' I'm got the hives an' a new straw hat,An' I'm come back home where my beau lives at.
AN OUT-WORN SAPPHO
How tired I am! I sink down all aloneHere by the wayside of the Present. Lo,Even as a child I hide my face and moan—A little girl that may no farther go;The path above me only seems to growMore rugged, climbing still, and ever brieredWith keener thorns of pain than these below;And O the bleeding feet that falter soAnd are so very tired!Why, I have journeyed from the far-off LandsOf Babyhood—where baby-lilies blewTheir trumpets in mine ears, and filled my handsWith treasures of perfume and honey-dew,And where the orchard shadows ever drewTheir cool arms round me when my cheeks were firedWith too much joy, and lulled mine eyelids to,And only let the starshine trickle throughIn sprays, when I was tired!Yet I remember, when the butterflyWent flickering about me like a flameThat quenched itself in roses suddenly,How oft I wished that I might blaze the same,And in some rose-wreath nestle with my name,While all the world looked on it and admired.—Poor moth!—Along my wavering flight toward fameThe winds drive backward, and my wings are lameAnd broken, bruised and tired...!