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A man severe he was, and stern to view,
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day's disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned-
Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault.
The village all declared how much he knew;
'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage-
And e'en the story ran that he could gauge;
In arguing too, the parson owned his skill,
For e'en though vanquished, he could argue still,
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around-
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But passed is all his fame: the very spot,
Where many a time he triumphed, is forgot.
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye,
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired,
Where gray-beard mirth and smiling toil retired,
Where village statesmen talked with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlor splendor of that festive place:
The whitewashed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that ticked behind the door-
The chest contrived a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day-
The pictures placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose-
The hearth, except when winter chilled the day,
With aspen boughs and flowers and fennel gay-
While broken teacups, wisely kept for show,
Ranged o'er the chimney, giistened in a row,
Vain transitory splendors! could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall ?
Obscure, it sinks; nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart.
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase !)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?” The Vision raised its head,
And, with a look made of all sweet accord, Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.” “And is mine one?” said Abou. Nay, not so," Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low, But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then, Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.'
The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again, with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed, -
And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest !
THE CHARIOT OF THE FAIRY QUEEN.
In shape no bigger than an agate stone,
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep:
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners' legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams;
The whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film;
Her wagoner, a small gray-coated gnat:
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut,
Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub;
Time out of mind the fairies' coach-makers.
And in this state she gallops night by night.
THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN.
Hamelin Town's in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser deep and wide
Washes its walls on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.
Rats! They fought the dogs and killed the cats, And bit the babies in their cradles, And ate the cheeses out of the vats, And licked the soup from the cook's own ladles, Split open the kegs of salted sprats, Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women's chats, By drowning their speaking With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats.
At last the people in a body To the Town-hall came flocking: «« 'Tis clear,” cried they, "our Mayor's a noddy:
And as for our Corporation-shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can't or won't determine
What's best to rid us of our vermin !
You hope, because you're old and obese,
To find in the furry civic robe ease!
Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we're lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing !”
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.
An hour they sat in council,
At length the Mayor broke silence:
“For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell;
I wish I were a mile hence !
It's easy to bid one rack one's brain-
I'm sure my poor head aches again,
I've scratched it so, and all in vain.
Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!"
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door, but a gentle tap?
“Bless us,” cried the Mayor,
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat !”
“Come in !” the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest sigure !
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow, and half of red;
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek, nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in-
There was no guessing his kith and kin!
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire:
Quoth one, “It's as if my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the trump of Doom's tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone !"
He advanced to the council table:
And, “Please your honors,” said he, “I'm able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep, or swim, or fly, or run,
After me so as you never saw !
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole, the toad, the newt, the viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.
Yet," said he, “poor piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Cham,
Last June, from his huge swarm of gnats;
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampire bats:
And as for what your brain bewilders,
If I can rid your town of rats
Will you give me a thousand guilders?”
“One? fifty thousand !” was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.
Into the street the Piper stept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe had uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling-
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails, and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives---
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped, advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser
Wherein all plunged and perished,
Save one, who stout as Julius Cæsar,
Swam across, and lived to carry
(As he the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary,
“At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples wondrous ripe
Into a cider press's gripe;
And a moving away of pickle-tub boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter casks;
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, Oh, rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, dinner, supper, luncheon !
And just as a bulky sugar puncheon,
All ready staved, like a great sun shone