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Mr. O'Malley first attracted attention as a contributor to The Current. Step by step he gained footing, his poems appearing in high-grade periodicals. Some of his poems have been widely copied, -" Worthiness" especially.
Mr. O'Malley has a comfortable living from his farm, the old homestead, and is content in a modest frame house, over the porches of which vines love to clamber, and around which lilacs and altheas cluster. A stately line of cedars stretches along the roadside in front of the house, and from them the place derives its name, having long been known as “ The Cedars." Here surrounded by his family (he has several children) Mr. O'Malley leads the quiet life of a farmer, finding in close communion with Nature the inspiration of his songs. That he is a true singer, all who listen attentively to his songs will admit. That he is a true man all who know him can tes. tify.
CHARLES J. O'MALLEY. HARLES J. O'MALLEY was born in an
humble log-cabin in Union County, Kentucky, February 9, 1857. His father was a hardworking Irish farmer, a man of strong mind, and closely related to the poet-priest Father Ryan. His mother, who is still living, is of Spanish descent. During his childhood young O'Malley was much alone. When eight years old he could read well, and for want of other associates he pored over such books as his home afforded. These were principally works on ecclesiastical history, together with Chapman's translation of Homer, and a translation of “Telemaque." Between the ages of eight and twelve he had finished his reading of ecclesiastical history, had made himself familiar with Plutarch's “ Lives" and Grimshaw's “Greece,” and had wandered through many pages of the Bible. He had also read some poetry at this time. At the age of twelve O'Malley was snatched out of his land of dreams and sent to a public school. Here the first real trial of his life began. He was shy, sensitive, and while learned in things far beyond his years, he was painfully conscious of his lack of rudimentary knowledge, especially in arithmetic. He had been at school but a short time when his father lost heavily by security debts. The family left the state, and spent about two years in wandering from place to place. Nothing was gained financially by this move, and they returned to the old life again. Young O'Malley was weak-lunged but he took hold of the plow with the sturdy determination of one bound by ties of affection and duty to help his father. They began to prosper once more, and about this time he employed his leisure moments in hard study. He became proficient in Latin under a competent teacher. He also made some progress in French and German. Probably the turning point in the young poet's life hinged upon his father's desire to have him enter the priesthood. He was nominated for St. Thomas Theological Seminary by Bishop, now Cardinal McCloskey. From there he was to have gone to Lourain, and thence, if he showed very unusual talent, to the Propaganda at Rome. For some reason best known to himself he turned his back upon the priesthood, and went resolutely forth to grapple with life outside the walls. He says that all this while the habit of writing verses still clung to me." He was encouraged in this habit by a veteran Kentucky editor, Ben Harrison. His father died in 1861. In October, 1882, he was married to Miss Sallie M. Hill, of Calhoun, Missouri, herself a poet, and a lady of great firmness of will, with a clear, spiritual mind. She has encouraged her husband by her devotion to, and belief in him.
THE IDEALIST. Let him alone. He would make pure the world, And ye try not; therefore he wars with you. His faith is but a staff wherewith he beats The hungry shadows from before his face. What is he but a poet void of words, A high-preast of white spaces and thin clouds? The concourse of the ages pass by him And, where he sits, dawns break about his head, Limitless noons, and splendors of far suns; And he hears music sung of days To Be, Which ye hear not, and he would have ye hear.
Let him alone. He only sits and shapes
WORTHINESS. WHATEVER lacks purpose is evil: a pool without
pebbles breeds slime; Not any one step hath chance fashioned on the
infinite stairway of Time: Nor ever came good without labor, in Toil, or in
Science or Art; It must be wrought out thro' the muscles--born
out of the soul and the heart,
Why plow in the stubble with plowshares?—why
winnow the chaff from the grain? Ah, since all of His gifts must be toiled for, since
Truth is not born without Pain! He giveth not to the unworthy, the weak, or the
foolish in deeds: Who soweth but chaff at the seed-time shall reap
but a harvest of weeds.
As the pyramid builded of vapor is blown by his
whirlwinds to naught So the Song without Truth is forgotten: His poem
to Man is man's thought. Whatever is strong with a purpose in humbleness
wrought and soul-pure Is known to the Master of Singers: He toucheth
it saying, “Endure ! ”
IN TIME OF DROUTH.
The yellow flags that grow beside the road,
How doth He shelter them, His birds?
Lo, now it is the night!
The twilight crofts are still;
Stark-stiff the marsh-pool lies
Gazing with icy eyes
Lost in the blinding snow
The shelterless cattle low
Suddenly out, seeth nought but darkness quite, Later beholds across the lifting snows,
All things take shape in a serener light:
Into a purer air
Under his thatch of reeds
Drunk with the music of the dripping eaves.
The warm-fleeced sheep are gathered in a fold
While the thick snows aloft Are whirled in gusts to the adjacent hill, Where now the garments of the dusk hang chill And dim in the pale splendor of a day Poured from the peaks of morn on twilight's vest
That call among the brakes and fens
Stray down within the hollow glens?
Ah, whither do they rest
When, from the stormy west,
Like ashes across the world,
Under the leaves that rattle in the sleet?
Or grasp, with cold, bare feet,
Where doth He shelter them?