Page images


months ago, the responsible post of corresponding secretary of Sorosis, discharging her nervous and often irksome duties always with quiet patienc: and marked efficiency. There is no member of that large and distinguished organization more beloved and honored than she. She is also a prized member of other women's clubs, always a most acceptable speaker, with quick common sense to guide her vote, and a refreshing sense of humor, which tones into harmony the story ethical and didactic bent of her mind, with the practical and wise. Mrs. Smith's personality is marked. She is a sweet-faced blonde, dignified, refined, keenly interested in others, full of an eager delight in the success of her friends far greater than in her own, and womanly in the highest sense of that muchabused word. Men and women alike respect and love her, and there is probably not a literary woman in the land who is not proud and joyful in her success.

K. U. C.

[ocr errors]

T is said to be the gift of genius which can take

a commonplace subject and invest it with the full charm of novelty and fresh beauty. Thus a hackneyed love-story under the touch of Shake. speare or St. Pierre or Alfred Tennyson becomes a classic; and thus we now and then find among our singers one whose words, flowing spontaneously forth, present to us, as though we had never known them before, the old and common topics of home and motherhood, sorrow for sin, longings for a better life, and the doubts and fears and hopes familiar to every earnest soul. Among the most successful and sweet-voiced of the poets of our day in this direction is the author of " His Name Shall Be Written on Their Foreheads," Sometime,” “If,” and other equally well-known verses. Wherever the English language is spoken and read, there these poeins have a foothold, for they appeal to the “universal and everlasting humanities" within us.

In contemplating the true and tender feeling which never fails to animate Mrs. May Riley Smith's work, and that indescribable charm of genius which pervades it, the literary merit which attaches to most of her lines is often lost sight of. Very many of them are polished to a high degree. Her images and phrases are original and striking, and the exquisite refinement of the artist is apparent throughout the whole. It is a source of regret to all who know and admire her work, that Mrs. Smith should have chosen to glean so continuously from so narrow a field. The essays she has made outside of this have been eminently successful, as in “The Weary Model” and “The Perfect Niche," and as she has not yet reached the zenith of her powers, it is to be hoped that she will venture still further in paths which she has hitherto seemed not to care to tread.

We gain a clue to the lack of variety and of extent in Mrs. Smith's writings, when we remember the saying that “out of the depths of anguish are born the vast majority of literary works." Though no doubt into her life as into all human existences has entered that "intrusive guest,"

“The sullen foe Of every sweet enjoyment here below," yet surely she has had more than most mortals know, of delight. It is largely in imagination that she has borne the woes of life, and from that source that she has obtained that sympathy with grief which runs throughout her poems. Happily married in early life, enjoying every advantage of travel and of society, and with an almost ideal son, now developing into early manhood, she lives a life of great content in a beautiful home on 74th street, in New York City, surrounded by hosts of friends. She has held for years, and until a few

IF WE KNEW If we knew the baby fingers

Pressed against the window-pane Would be cold and stiff to-morrow

Never trouble us again; Would the bright eyes of our darling

Catch the frown upon our brow? Would the prints of rosy fingers

Vex us then as they do now?

Ah, these little ice-cold fingers,

How they point our memories back To the hasty words and actions

Strewn along our backward track!
How those little hands remind us,

As in snowy grace they lie,
Not to scatter thorns — but roses —

For our reaping by and by!
Strange we never prize the music

Till the sweet-voiced bird has flown; Strange that we should slight the violets

Till the lovely flowers are gone; Strange that summer skies and sunshine

Never seem one-half so fair
As when Winter's snowy pinions

Shake their white down in the air!
Lips from which the seal of silence

None but God can roll away, Never blossomed in such beauty

As adorns the mouth to-day; And sweet words that freight our memory

With their beautiful perfume, Come to us in sweeter accents

Through the portals of the tomb,

[graphic][merged small]

Let us gather up the sunbeams

Lying all along our path;
Let us keep the wheat and roses,

Casting out the thorns and chaff; Let us find our sweetest comfort

In the blessings of to-day; With a patient hand removing

All the briars from our way.

THE INN OF REST. Toiling among my garden thorns one day, While in a stirless swoon the hot air lay,

A traveler passes toward the glowing west,

Who seemed intent upon some cheerful quest, For with a song he did beguile the way.

Perhaps some question stirred within my eyes,

For thus he spake: “In yonder valley lies, Among the murmurous trees, the Inn called Rest;

Where all the pillows are with poppies strewn,

Where toil-worn feet are shod with silken shoon, And bed of down awaits each jaded guest; I haste at this good Inn to make request,

For see! the dial marks the hour of noon." “God grant," I cried, “ you reach that threshold


A LITTLE elbow leans upon your knee,

Your tired knee, that has so much to bear;
A child's dear eyes are looking lovingly

From underneath a thatch of shining hair: Perhaps you do not heed the velvet touch

Of warm, moist fingers, folding yours so tight, You do not prize this blessing overmuch —

You almost are too tired to pray, to-night!

But it is blessedness! A year ago

I did not see it as I do to-day,
We are so dull and thankless; and too slow

To catch the sunshine e'er it slips away. And now it seems surpassing strange to me,

That while I wore the badge of motherhood, I did not kiss more oft and tenderly

The little child that brought me only good!

The singer passed, and in the winding lanc,
I lost, at length, the thread of his refrain.

One Sabbath eve, consoled and comforted

By chant and prayer at Vesper-service said, With a laus Deo thrilling through my pain

I left the church, and careless where I went,

Behind its ivied walls my footsteps bent, Among the low green tents where dwell the dead;

The chill winds sobbed among the grasses sere Which thatched the narrow roofs. The sky was

drear, And drops of rain fell on my down-bent head. Turning to go, upon a stone I read

A name, and dropped upon these words a tear: · He sought an Inn of Rest, and found it-here."

And if some night when you sit down to rest,

You miss this elbow from your tired knee; This restless, curling head from off your breast,

This lisping tongue that chatters constantly; If from your own the dimpled hand had slipped,

And ne'er would nestle in your palm again; If the white feet into their grave had tripped,

I could not blame you for your heartache then!

I wonder so that mothers ever fret

At little children, clinging to their gown; Or that the footprints, when the days are wet,

Are ever black enough to make them frown! If I could find a little muddy boot,

Or cap, or jacket, on my chamber floor; If I could kiss a rosy, restless foot,

And hear its music in my home once more;

SOMETIME. SOMETIME, when all life's lessons have been learned,

And sun and stars forevermore have set, The things which our weak judgments here have

spurned, The things o'er which we grieved with lashes wet, Will flash before us, out of life's dark night,

As stars shine most in deeper tints of blue; And we shall see how all God's plans are right,

And how what seemed reproof was love most



If I could mend a broken cart to-day,

To-morrow make a kite to reach the sky There is no woman in God's world could say

She was more blissfully content than I. But, ah! the dainty pillow next my own

Is never rumpled by shining head; My singing birdling from its nest is flown

The little boy I used to kiss is dead!

And we shall see how, while we frown and sigh,

God's plans go on as best for you and me; How, when we called, He heeded not our cry,

Because His wisdom to the end could see. And even as wise parents disallow

Too much of sweet to craving baby hood, So God, perhaps, is keeping from us now

Life's sweetest things, because it seemeth good. If he had died, as little children do,

I would not stain the wee sock on my knee With bitter tears, nor kiss the empty shoe And cry, “Bring back again my little boy to

me!” I could be patient, until patience grew

Into the gladness of Eternity.

And if, sometimes, commingled with life's wine,

We find the wormwood, and repel and shrink, Be sure a wiser hand than yours or mine

Pours out this portion for our lips to drink. And if some friend we love is lying low,

Where human kisses can not reach his face, Oh, do not blame the loving Father so,

But wear your sorrow with obedient grace! And you shall shortly know that lengthened breath

Is not the sweetest gift God sends His friend. And that, sometimes, the sable pall of death

Conceals the sairest boon His love can send. If we could push ajar the gates of life,

And stand within and all God's workings see, We could interpret all this doubt and strife,

And for each mystery could find a key!

But oh, to know the feet once pure and white,

The haunts of vice have boldly ventured in! The hands that should have battled for the right

Have been wrung crimson in the clasp of sin! And should he knock at heaven's gate to-night,

Alas my boy could scarce an entrance win!


The sweetest face in all the world to me,

Set in a frame of shining silver hair, With eyes whose language is fidelity:

This is my mother. Is she not most fair?

But not to-day. Then be content, poor heart!

God's plans like lilies pure and white unfold. We must not tear the close-shut leaves apart,

Time will reveal the calyxes of gold. And if, through patient toil, we reach the land

Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest, When we shall clearly see and understand,

I think that we will say, 'God knew the best!”

Ten little heads have found their sweetest rest

Upon the pillow of her loving breast: The world is wide; yet nowhere does it keep

So safe a haven, so secure a rest.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »