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HELEN HINSDALE RICH.
WHEN Helen Hinsdale was born into this world, it was as the daughter of a first settler of a new and wild region of northern New York. The primeval forests were on every side of the log cabin where she saw the light, and not very far away in any direction, for it was something over sixty years ago, her father having migrated thither from Berkshire county in Massachusetts, where the family name still remains in the town of Hinsdale and in the possession of many citizens. There she grew up with little schooling, but read as many books as came her way; she married early, and afterward continued her self-culture by every means at her command, so that the great masterpieces of English literature became familiar to her, and her love of beauty was fostered by her husband, Moses Rich of Brasher Falls. She made everything serve an inextinguishable desire to benefit her kind, in the cause of temperance, patriotism and the rights of woman, and has been useful in many moral causes as writer and speaker. From early years Mrs. Rich wrote her verses for newspapers and later for magazines, and when her volume, "A Dream of the Adirondacks, and Other Poems," was published, it gained instant recognition from the press of the whole country as a worthy part of the poetry of America. Indeed a first book of verse very seldom reaches any such common judgment of approval, and it was justified by the merits of the contents. This volume was published in 1884, and now there is ready for the press and will shortly be issued a new volume, which will sustain the standard of the other.
Mrs. Rich's verse is always fluent and graceful, and she expresses emotion with that impress of genuineness and honesty which carries a personal force into the verse. She is deeply engaged in moral motives, and these fill many of her best poems with an inspiring fervor. But she also has the feeling of pure beauty; no poet could so celebrate the clearness of Nature, the roses, the lilies, the autumn glory, without an ecstatic sense of their loveliness. Her heart throbs in unison with the beauty of earth as well as with the heart of humanity, and she deserves her place with Lucy Larcom, Mrs. Dorr, Mrs. Rollins and others, as a fortunate interpreter of Nature and humanity. Mrs. Rich is now a resident of Chicago; she retains her connection with many important social movements, her religious affiliations are liberal, and she enjoys the warm friendship of men and women known in reforms and in literature.
C. G. W.
Her husband's murder was cruel; Antonio, fierce and sly,
Had sworn revenge for a trifle when some of the boys were nigh.
She had tripped to her bed of pansies, for Blake was going away;
While he bent to embrace their baby she gathered
a love bokay.
She heard a voice,-Gueldo's, —a shot,—and she
ran to Jim;
But the baby's white dress was scarlet, and his father's eyes were dim. You've heard the cry of a bittern?—it was just that sort of a noise;
It brought us there in a hurry,-the women and half the boys.
She tried to tell us the story,-her white lips only stirred;
She seemed to slip quite out of life, and couldn't utter a word.
She told us at last in writing, only a name,—and then
Six derringers found his level, his guard was a dozen men.
She didn't take on, seemed frozen,-but Lord! what a ghastly face!
With slow, sad steps, like the shade of joy, she crept round the woful place,
And when we lifted the coffin she knelt with her little child,
Just whispered to Jim and kissed him; we said she was going wild.
Ah! deep things yield no token, and she wa'n't surface gold;
'T was a gloomy job prospecting round the claim Jim couldn't hold.
But I found her rocking the baby, her chin in the dainty palm,
White as the shaver's pillow, tearless, and dreadful calm.
I told her about the trial; she shuddered, her great black eyes
Flashed out such a danger signal,- -or may be it was surprise.
"They never can clear Gueldo,-he cannot escape, for I
Can swear to his hissing Spanish,-that I saw him turn and fly!"
"No, never," I said; "his ticket is good for the underground;
He's due this time to-morrow where he won't find Blake around."
The judge held court in his wood-house, and Bagget had stripped his store
Of barrel and box; I never set eyes on a crowd before.
I dropped on a keg of ciscos, the judge on a box of soap;
Gueldo and his attorney found seats on a coil of rope.
Then Kate came, with her baby like a rosebud in the snow,
Its pink cheek against the mother's pallid and pinched with woe.
Jim's blue eyes, as I live, sir! there were his very curls;
They set us miners to sobbing like a corral of silly girls.
She looked so thankful on us, colored, and when she met
The snake eyes of Gueldo, the braids on her brow were wet,
And if the hell of the preachers had yawned on our gentle Kate,
She couldn't have glared such horror or woman's deadly hate.
Well, they went on with the trial; an alibi, it was claimed,
Would be urged for the wolf defendant; the judge, -well, he looked ashamed,
When ten of the hardest rascals, the cruellest, meanest lot,
Swore, black and blue, Gueldo was four miles from the spot
With them, a-hunting the grizzly; then the Texan pled his case,
Till the judge turned pale as ashes,-couldn't look in an honest face.
"Your verdict, my men of the jury, must be grounded, I suppose,
On the weight of the testimony; if you have any faith in those Reliable fellows from Gouger, the prisoner was not thar."
And his honor growled upon him like a vexed and hungry b'ar.
The smoke made a little halo round the laughing baby's head.
Then I knew the terrible promise she whispered her husband dead.
Gueldo staggered, falling, his swart face scared and grim,
"Dead, gentlemen of the jury! Decision reversed for him!
And justice!" we heard her mutter, though she wasn't the talking kind,
And she hadn't the least allusion to that female pictured blind.
Trembling she turned upon us the eyes of a wounded doe;
"Amen!" from the weeping neighbors; "God help you!" the judge said, "Go!"
DEATH AND ROSES.
WHEN I am dead, strew roses o'er me, Sweet-
How have I loved them? All the happy days
I want them all-my roses of Lorraine,
O peerless darlings of the sun and rain!
LET me see! It was May, for an oriole came,
And flooding the air with a melody wild,
Half sorrow, half passion, and pain. The years faded slowly; I stood there a child, With a child's holy rapture again.
Ah, yes, it was May; for the violets blue
That I crushed in my palms in my glee, With gentle reproach, shedding tear-drops of dew, Found pity and refuge with thee;
It was May in the valley, on meadow and hill,
And you kissed me, you know, by the birch That stands by the little, wild, frolicsome rill,
Where the robins come always to perch.
It was May in my heart, every folding and cell In imperial purple (all sovereigns may wear); May danced in my eyes that reflected so well
Thy face lighting up all the beautiful there; It was May! It was May! for you said with a sigh "I love you; remember it ages to come;
It will never be May to me more, if you fly,
Then hasten to tell me you pine for your home."
NEVER alone again, since I have found
LET not the drifted snow of lilies white
Press my dead heart, but roses red as flame; It will be morning then; the stormy night
Gone like the discords of some martial strain Heard all too near-in the dim distance sweet.
O rose of life! that struggled to the light, At last unfolding, beautiful, complete,
To bud and bloom forever in His sight!