Page images

Your name may flaunt a titled trail,
Proud as a cockerel's rainbow tail;
And mine as brief appendix wear
As Tam O'Shanter's luckless mare;
To-day, old friend, remember still
That I am Joe and you are Bill.

You've won the great world's envied prize,
And grand you look in people's eyes,
With H O N. and LL. D.
In big brave letters, fair to see,-
Your fist, old fellow! off they go!-
How are you, Bill? How are you, Joe?

You've worn the judge's ermined robe;
You've taught your name to half the globe;
You've sung mankind a deathless strain;
You've made the dead past live again:
The world


what it will, But you and I are Joe and Bill.

The chaffing young folks stare and say,
“See those old buffers, bent and gray, -
They talk like fellows in their teens!
Mad, poor old boys! That's what it means,
And shake their heads; they little know
The throbbing hearts of Bill and Joe!—

How Bill forgets his hour of pride,
While Joe sits smiling at his side;
How Joe, in spite of time's disguise,
Finds the old schoolmate in his eyes, –
Those calm, stern eyes that melt and fill
As Joe looks fondly up at Bill.

Ah, pensive scholar, what is fame?
A fitful tongue of leaping flame;
A giddy whirlwind's fickle gust,
That lifts a pinch of mortal dust;
A few swift years, and who can show
Which dust was Bill and which was Joe?

The weary idol takes his stand,
Holds out his bruised and aching hand,
While gaping thousands come and go, -
How vain it seems,

this empty show!
Till all at once his pulses thrill;-
'Tis poor old Joe's “God bless you, Bill!”
And shall we breathe in happier spheres
The names that pleased our mortal ears;
In some sweet lull of harp and song,
For earth-born spirits none too long,
Just whispering of the world below
Where this was Bill and that was Joe?

No matter; while our home is here
No sounding name is half so dear;
When fades at length our lingering day,
Who cares what pompous tombstones say?
Read on the hearts that love us still,
Hic jacet Joe. Hic jacet Bill.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894]


Old friend of mine, you were dear to my heart,

Long, long ago, long ago.
Little did we think of a time we should part,

Long, long ago, long ago.
Hand clasped in hand through the world we would go.
Down our old untrodden path the wild weeds grow!
Great was the love 'twixt us; bitter was the smart:

Old friend of mine long ago.
Patient watch I kept for you many, many a day,

Long, long ago, long ago;
Waited and wept for you far, far away,

Long, long ago, long ago.
Merry came each May-tide, green leaves would start:
Never came my old friend back to my heart.
Lonely I went on my weary, weary way,

Old friend of mine long ago.

Oft as I muse at the shadowy nightfall

Over the dear Long Ago,
Borne on tears arises the dark, dark pall,

Fallen on my heart long ago.
Love is not dead, though we wander apart;
How I could clasp you, old friend, to my

heart! Barriers lie between us, but God knoweth all, Old friend of mine long ago.

Gerald Massey (1828-1907)


WHERE are the friends that I knew in my Maying,

In the days of my youth, in the first of my roaming? We were dear; we were leal; O, far we went straying;

Now never a heart to my heart comes homing! Where is he now, the dark boy slender

Who taught me bare-back, stirrup and reins? I loved him; he loved me; my beautiful, tender

Tamer of horses on grass-grown plains.

Where is he now whose eyes swam brighter,

Softer than love, in his turbulent charms;
Who taught me to strike, and to fall, dear fighter,

And gathered me up in his boyhood arms;
Taught me the rifle, and with me went riding,

Suppled my limbs to the horseman's war; Where is he now, for whom my heart's biding,

Biding, biding—but he rides far?

O love that passes the love of woman!

Who that hath felt it shall ever forget,
When the breath of life with a throb turns human,

And a lad's heart is to a lad's heart set?
Ever, forever, lover and rover-

They shall cling, nor each from other shall part Till the reign of the stars in the heavens be over,

And life is dust in each faithful heart!

They are dead, the American grasses under;

There is no one now who presses my side; By the African chotts I am riding asunder,

And with great joy ride I the last great ride.
I am fey; I am fain of sudden dying;

Thousands of miles there is no one near;
And my heart—all the night it is crying, crying

In the bosoms of dead lads darling-dear.

Hearts of my music—them dark earth covers;

Comrades to die, and to die for, were they;-
In the width of the world there were no such rovers-

Back to back, breast to breast, it was ours to stay; And the highest on earth was the vow that we cherished,

To spur forth from the crowd and come back never more, And to ride in the track of great souls perished

Till the nests of the lark shall roof us o'er.

Yet lingers a horseman on Altai highlands,

Who hath joy of me, riding the Tartar glissade; And one, far faring o'er orient islands

Whose blood yet glints with my blade's accolade; North, west, east, I fling you my last hallooing,

Last love to the breasts where my own has bled; Through the reach of the desert my soul leaps pursuing My star where it rises a Star of the Dead.

George Edward Woodberry (1855–


Ar least, it was a life of swords,

Our life! nor lived in vain:
We fought the fight with mighty lords,

Nor dastards have we slain.

We stirred at morn, and through bright air

Swept to the trysting place:
Winds of the mountains in our hair,

And sunrise on each face.

No need to spur! our horses knew

The joy, to which we went:
Over the brightening lands they flew

Forward, and were content.

On each man's lips, an happy smile;

In each man's eyes, delight:
So, fired with foretaste, mile on mile,

We thundered to the fight.

Let death come now, and from the sun

Hide me away: what then?
My days have seen more prowess done,

Than years of other men.

Oh, warriors of the rugged heights,

We, where the eagles nest:
They, courtly soldiers, gentle knights,

By kings and dames caressed.

Not theirs, the passion of the sword,

The fire of living blades! Like men, they fought: and found reward

In dance and feast, like maids.

We, on the mountain lawns encamped,

Close under the great stars, Turned, when the horses hard by stamped,

And dreamed again, of wars:

Or, if one woke, he saw the gleam

Of moonlight, on each face, Touch its tumultuary dream

With moments of mild grace.

We hated no man; but we fought

With all men: the fierce wind
Lashes the wide earth without thought;

Our tempest scourged mankind.

« PreviousContinue »