Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors]

FRANCES M. 0. SMITH.

And alone beside life's pathway, in that sultry

noon-tide's heat, I sat me down in silence with the dust upon my

feet.

IT

As I sat amid the ruin of my dreams around me

cast, I, with hand that never faltered, sowed with salt

the gloomy past. Then I rose up a new actor in the world's stupen

dous play, Soon to find a sweet oblivion to the trials of the

day.

For again there came a vision such as Prophet never

saw, Such as painter dream-enchanted may conceive,

but never draw; Such it rose upon my vision, and I trembled with

delight, As I watched it upward sweeping, as a comet

sweeps the night.

T is indeed worthy of note that among the many

who have contributed to the building up of a Canadian literature during the past quarter of a century, not a few of the brightest names are those of women. Some of the best verse written to-day in Canada is from the pens of such writers as Agnes M. Machar, Mrs. S. Frances Harrison, Mrs. Sarah Anne Curzon and Ethelwyn Wetherald. Poetic inspiration is not a monopoly and comes more frequently to those whose heart-music is born of the virtues of home, than of those whose dreams are inlaid with gain and glory.

One of the latest acquisitions to the goodly company of Canadian poets is Frances M. Owston Smith. Miss Smith is of Irish and English extraction, her father being Ralph Smith, a native of King's County, Ireland, and her mother, a daughter of Captain William Owston, of the Royal Navy, Yorkshire, England. It will be seen therefore that this admixture of Saxon strength and Celtic fervor, lends to the poetic gifts of Miss Smith a union of power and grace which is manifest in nearly all her poems. Miss Smith's childhood days were spent in the town of Peterboro, Ont., which nestles like a dream, 'mid sylvan lakes and forests great and streams both wide and bold. For a number of years past, Miss Smith has been a resident of the little town of Lucan, in western Ontario.

T. O'H.

MY TWO GIFTS.

MY LADY JUNE.

I Gave that earnest love of mine

Unto a lady fair;
I gave it as a cup of wine,

And bless'd it with a pray’r.
Her vanity athirst drank up
The wine wherewith I fill'd the cup;
And then, her face half smile, half frown,
She laughing shook her tresses brown
And threw the empty goblet down.
She open’d wide her splendid eyes
In very wonder and surprise;
And well I mark'd the lady's glance;
She thought to see it break, perchance.
Since then I've filled it to the brim
With wine to which the first were dim;
With wine that had been trod and press’d,
The purest vintage of my breast;
The last, and yet, the latest, best,
As at the feast of old, we know,
The best was latest in its flow.

She is here in all her glory,

With her favors falling free, Singing still the same sweet story

She has always sung to me. Oh the roses blush to meet her,

Sparkling in their diamond dew, And the stately lilies greet her,

As for her alone they grew. How her voice, with joy o'erflowing,

Teaches Nature's harp its tune, Music only hers bestowing;

She is here-my Lady June.

That goblet was my heart; and now

'Tis fill'd for one whose look, Hath more of truth than any vow

E'en plighted on a book. And to this lady, half divine,

I've given now the latest wine; And I have said, “Of old we know

The best was latest in its flow.” And should this wine, my love, disdain,

The cup can ne'er be filled again.

Memory near her gently pressing,

Lends her song one tender tone, And one touch to her caressing,

For the hearts that she has known. It may be some picture graven

With the lines too deep to fade, Or some half-forgotten haven,

For which Faith in youth had prayed.

But she garlands even sorrow,

With a wreath that dies too soon;
It will wither ere the morrow-

She is here-my Lady June.
She would bear for me less gladness,

Less of loving light to-day,
If she garnered not the sadness

That made shadows on the way.
For I like to think she knows me,

And remembers and is still, When Life's morn looks back and shows me

What its noon shall ne'er fulfil. So she ever comes in glory,

With her favors falling free, Singing still the same sweet story

She has always sung to me.

'Tis not known if his home be in Heaven

Or where souls are made perfect through pain; But that once when the years count the seven,

He comes back to Killarney again. But I know that if I were in Heaven,

Where they nevermore dream about pain, I would wish for one year in each seven

To visit Killarney again.

THERE AND HERE.

O'DONOGHUE'S RETURN.

In the earliest dawn of the morning

I went to meet Beauty alone, While the dew drops her mantle adorning

Were like gems that some fairy had sown. By the ivy-clad ruin uncertain

I paused, for 'tis dreary and dim
Till the angel of morn lifts the curtain

And the wild birds their matins begin.
Like a star in the ether beclouded,

Still an infant asleep on Love's breast, The lake in the mist lay enshrouded

Since the sunset had kissed it to rest. But hark! what is this that comes striding

O'er the waters as if they were earth? 'Tis the chieftain O'Donoghue, riding

To the beautiful land of his birth.

When Dante, following the elder poet,

Unsummoned entered sin's avenging shade, Never a spirit there could help but know it

By the dark shadow he in passing made. Things touched were moved-and there awoke a

yearning In those sad spirits, stronger than their pain, That he, unto their loved on earth returning,

Their names unspoken now, might speak again. Can we not tell of them the self-same story;

When they come back to us do they not cast Their shadows over all the sunlight's glory;

And dim the present by the shining past? Do they not often from untrodden places Press back the briers our fears have made too

muchAnd smile assurance from their mourned-for faces And with hands folded long, move all they

touch?

And when the wearing links of pain that bind us

Seem all too heavy for our strength to bear How often does their mystic coming find us

Turning for solace to remembrance there!

FAITH'S APPEAL TO IRELAND.

See the fairies strew roses around him,

But their petals lie crushed in his track, For a spell from the past has enbound him,

And the long, long ago has come back.

BEAUTIFUL land, where my home has been ever

Decked with the garlands thy children still bind, Isle of the sea that has turned from me never, Though danger and death round my footsteps

have twined. Trusted and tried one! what fervent devotion

Dwells in thee, deeper than depths of the sea! And storm God ne'er thrilled the great soul of the

ocean

The castle, a ruin no longer,

Rises fair as in youth it first rose,
By its legends of valor made stronger,

And its flag floating far o'er its foes.
Fair ladies the harp strings are waking,

Brave chiefs lead the chase o'er the hill, And the laughter of children is making

Sweet Echo the sport of its will. But soon over waves and through wildwood,

Ere the sky win the cloud from the lake, From the dearly loved home of his childhood

His way must O'Donoghue take.

As thy soul has thrilled when it trembled for me. Erin, beloved, thy hands have grown weary,

Held up to God for the lives that were dear; Hope's radiant star rises ly and drearyThe dark hour ere dawn whispers “Daylight is

near.”

[blocks in formation]

But oh! if thy children should list to the stranger,

And worn with long waiting, without me rise up, To whom couldst thou turn in the night of thy

danger? How quaff Pain's dark wine if I kissed not the

cup?

was

NAT

Look to the sky, soft and blue, spread above thee; Count time since it first saw thee turn to the

cross; Ask the low graves of the past if they love me,

And voices shall speak from the marble and

moss.

Look at thy little ones kneeling at even,

Small hands so trustfully folded in mine; Hast thou a gift pure as this I have given ? More steadfast a star o'er their young lives to

shine ?

Tired art thou! Yes, but would freedom without

me

Be sweeter than chains which together we wear? Never, beloved, let my heart learn to doubt thee,

Nor thine turn away from the blessing I bear. I have been with thee in joy and in sorrow,

To soothe thee and comfort not vainly have tried, Have borrowed Hope's language to sing of to

morrow, Love's lips to kiss tears thou hast striven to hide. I have been welcomed by bright smiling faces,

In pageants of glory have gladly borne part, Crept hunted away to thy desolate places,

And felt thy warm blood dropping over my heart. Then cling to me still, for the mariner lying

Becalmed in the loneliest path of the sea, Would be less lone than thou, with thine altar-lights

dying, Thy sanctuary darkened—and parted from me.

ATHANIEL MORTON BASKETT,

born in the City of St. Louis, Mo., April 5th, 1853, and was the third child of William and Mary A. Baskett. He attended his first school in that city. In the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, his father met financial reverses, and moved from St. Louis to Pike county, Ill., and located in the small Village of Detroit, where he remained with his family until 1865, when he returned to St. Louis and resumed his former occupation, it being that of book-keeping. During the residence of the family in Illinois, young Baskett had attended the public schools of the village, which were taught only a few months in the year, but, being naturally of quick mind, industrious habits, and fond of letters, even with these limited facilities, he acquired the rudiments of an English education. Upon returning to St. Louis, Nathaniel found employment in a large mercantile establishment of that city, where he remained for eighteen months. In December, 1866, after a short illness, his father died with typhoid pneumonia. This misfortune required the removal of the family from the city, and in January, 1867, Mrs. Baskett, with her four sons, which at that time composed the family, removed to Monroe county, Mo., and located on a small farm. Here the family grew up, attending, during the winter, the public schools taught in the vicinity, and in the spring and summer, following agricultural pursuits.

Nathaniel was a diligent student of quick perception and early became an omniverous reader, and at the age of seventeen years he had completed the course of study furnished by the public schools and read all the books found in his father's library, which contained many valuable works, among which were the poetical works of Shakespeare, Byron, Moore, Milton, Gray, Young and others, the perusal of which doubtless tended to develop a naturally imaginative and poetical mind. Among other works, in his father's well-selected library, he found the works of Josephus, Bunyon's “Pilgrim's Progress,” “Dick's Works on Astronomy,' Macaulay's History of England” and other books of like character, all of which he greedily devoured, and at the early age of fifteen years, he had read many of the best works of English literature. At the age of seventeen, with the consent of his mother, he accepted a position in a dry goods store in Paris, the county seat of Monroe county, where he remained for three years.

Having been denied the privileges of a collegiate education, young Baskett early resolved upon a

CHRIST'S TEARS.

Why did He weep beside the new-made grave

Where slept His dearly loved ? His word divine Even from that dark nothingness could save.

I would not weep if I could waken mine;
If I could win from 'neath the unyielding sod

All the pale warder still must coldly keep,
No other power would I envy God.

Then wherefore o'er His friend did Jesus weep ? Silence where once was song is mine to bear,

And darkness, though around me shines the day. I miss the careful presence everywhere; The mute king's beckoning hands have lured

away; Ah! heart unlearned in love canst thou not see? Those tears were not for Lazarus-but for thee.

If I could only know, my love,

Whate'er shall be my doom, Forever in thy heart of hearts,

My love should find a home:
No night could dim the light, no cloud

Could hide my perfect day;
The knowledge of thy love for me

Would drive the night away.
But Slander's tongue is strong, my love,

The voice of Hate is deep; Hints darkly strewn have poisoned life,

As dreams have poisoned sleep. But oh! if I could only know,

Whate'er shall be my doomForever in thy heart of hearts

My love shall find a home.

SONNET.

plan for self-education and culture, which he has ever industriously carried into effect. In Paris, he formed many congenial acquaintances and warm friends, but devoted little of his time to society. In 1873, he found a warm friend and patron in Dr. Abner E. Gore, who had observed in the lad the elements of a strong intellect and an indomitable energy; and, at the solicitation and with the aid of Dr. Gore, young Baskett immediately began the study of medicine, and in the spring of 1876, was graduated at the Missouri Medical College in St. Louis, taking high rank in his class. He has since very successfully practiced his profession, and now resides in Moberly, Mo. 1878 he was m ed to Miss Kate Cooper of Paris, Mo., and two children were born to them. In 1880, he had the sad misfortune to lose his mother, and in only a few days thereafter, his first child died from an acute attack; this was followed by the death of his wife and second infant in July, 1881, and he was left truly desolate.

His first efforts at poetry began when quite a boy, and were quite crude, as verses by lads of that age, usually are. At the age of sixteen, he published a poem in the local papers entitled, “Life's Shadows,” which was regarded as a clever production and won for him local praise and renown. At intervals short poems followed, which were favorably mentioned by the cotemporary press. In the year 1884, at the solicitation of his friends, he published some of his poems under the title of “Visions of Fancy.” Though the author has a strong poetic imagination, with a tendency to record his fleeting fancies, still his compositions have been of a fugitive character and the pen is resorted to, merely as an interlude to fill up the intervals in the more active and busy employment of professional life. He is, perhaps, better known in his profession, than to the literary world, having contributed many able articles, on various subjects, to the leading medical journals of the continent and he has for some time occupied the editorial chair of the St. Louis “Medical Advance," a quarterly journal of medicine and surgery. He is of pleasant address and very popular among a large circle of acquaintances in this and other states. J. H. R.

Slow from the west the sunbeams fade away;

Eastward I watch the purple veil of night

Drawn up the sky to overspread the light; The shades of darkness triumph over day. The song of birds is stilled; through twilight gray

The everlasting stars are shining bright

In peaceful concord from unfathomed height, Watching the restless hours glide away. The lowing herds are waiting for their food; The plowboy whistles, glad his work is done;

By chimney lug the brown-faced farmer waits Till the warm meal is ready for his brood;

In the far distance sound the creaking gates; The work of day is o'er. Night is begun.

TO MEMORY.

Sweet guardian of the storehouse of the mind,
Open the doors, that I may search and find
The golden words which lie concealed behind.

Come with me; hold thy glimmering candle high
And light each crannied nook, that I may spy
The place where youth's bright diamond treasures

lie.

IF I COULD ONLY KNOW. IF I could only count, my love,

Upon thy love for e'er, Whatever woes in life might come,

I would not care or fear;
For fate is strong and pain is strong,

And bitter is life's gall,
But strong as fate or pain may be,

Love stronger is than all.

Draw back the curtains, and display to view
Fancy's bright, silken garb of gorgeous hue,
With warp forever changing into colors new;
And bring me forth those bags of gleaming gold,
Which wit and mirth in jovial concert hold;
And let the treasures they contain be told.
And sorrow's silvery wealth shall be untied;
And melancholy, pale and leaden eyed,
While we are searching, shall stand at our side

« PreviousContinue »