Page images


In his bed the good man turned uneasily o'er, While his wife, sore affrighted, concluding her snore,


once more

To all the known saints for protection. All, roused from their slumbers, in fear looking

forth, Exclaimed: "'Tis the wicked Old Man from the

And little our lives and our homes are worth

With the North Wind at his mad direction."

The droll little man, when the North Wind grew

still, Blew a breath that froze hard every babbling rill, And fastened the wheel of the old village mill

Which for months had been merrily turning; Then he chuckled and said: “This will do for

to-night; What a lark there will be when each sluggardly

wight, With staring eyes greets the old town's sorry plight

And groans, each mad caper discerning!”

Ere morn, like a youth with cheeks rosy and red,
The day up the steeps of the orient led,
Ere slumber arose from her sensuous bed,

O’er the rim in the faint starlight glancing,
And up the cold slopes of the Northland, there

passed A queer little man, with a voice like the blast, And a reindeer team dashing so gaily and fast

Away through the night gaily prancing.

LIAM EDWARD VASSER is thirty-seven

years of age, having been born in 1855 in the quiet, highly respectable little town of Athens, Ala. Reared in an elegant, refined home, and possessing instinctive culture of mind, Mr. Vasser is a type of the free-hearted, honorable, southern gentleman. Aside from the refining influences of the home, and his early fondness for wholesome reading, his school advantages were the very best, his parents placing him, in 1870 at the age of fifteen in the Virginia Military Institute, where he remained for four years. Thence he went to the University of Virginia and matriculated for the session of 1874-75. Returning to his native town he spent the next few years in reading, occasionally scribbling verse and indulging in social ease which a competency enabled him to enjoy. The summer of 1878 was spent in Paris. During this short residence abroad his keen observation served to enrich his mind with much of useful and pleasurable knowledge. In 1881-82 he edited the Alabama Courier. In 1883 he left the office and undertook to farm, but, finding the employment uncongenial, or unprofitable, abandoned it after one year and embarked in a bookstore enterprise in Athens which he conducted for two years. In the fall of 1885 he was elected by the Democratic party to the Lower House of the Alabama Legislature, where he made an able and acceptable representative. Though a new member he was at once selected as chairman of the Committee on Education, an especially important committee at that time, the Blair Bill for National Aid to Education being a prominent measure before the various Legislatures of the country. Although a zealous advocate of the education of the masses, believing that a Republic can only safely rest on an enlightened suffrage, yet his political faith led him to oppose the proposed national scheme as threatening the autonomy of the States. He, however, favored as large state appropriations for educational purposes as the people were able to bear, and vigorously defended the Normal Schools, against much opposition. As an earnest of their appreciation of his faithfulness and capacity as a representative, he was strongly urged by his friends to announce himself as a candidate for the State Senate for the ensuing term, but he persistantly refused to come forward, having no inclination to enter political life.

Mr. Vasser's poetical work has not been great in amount, he having never devoted himself assiduously to poetry, which has been a past-time with him rather than an occupation. Only one volume


ABOVE the drowsy hum of bees,

That rove amid the garden's bloom, A clear, young voice comes on the breeze,

As glad and sweet as if no gloom Hung o'er the dreary world to-day; And listening to the quaint old lay,

A melody my childhood knew, I half forget that I am gray,

And softly hum the measures through.

Oh! it does seem so long since then,

When, like this artless boy I sang! And three-score cannot sing as ten;

For silver bells which sweetly sang For joyous youth are silent now; So if I sink, it must be low;

But oh, how gladly would I fling Aside the spoil of years, to go

And with this careless urchin sing!

[graphic][merged small]

of his poems has been published, a small book entitled, “Flower Myths and Other Poems,” (Louisville, Ky., 1884). Since the publication of this volume his work has been mainly in contributions to newspapers, and here may be found some of the best work that he has done. W. T. S.

While, blest with affection, with you I abide,

In summer or winter an Eden I find itAn Eden where you like a seraph preside."

No poem was written; he lingered all day

To feast on her charms, and the poem forgotAnd many a poem's forgotten that way.




“I KNOW what your poem will be,” she said,

And laughed in his face as she reached her arm

Up over his shoulders, and joined her palms, And plaited her fingers behind his head. “'Twill be about roses all faded and fallen, 'Twill be about grasses all yellow and dead,

'Twill be about heather in clusters of purple, 'Twill be about leaves that are golden and red.

Say, truthfully, won't it? Just answer me now;"

And merrily twinkled her mischievous eyes, While warm was the touch of her lips on his brow.

THE musk-rose, love, is sweetest now,

The evening star hath risen; The closing flower a tardy bee

Hath caught and shut in prison; And now the moon, on silvery shoon,

Ascends the slopes of blue, And sends her light, dear maid, this night

To brighten paths for you.

Oh, love, there's music on the breeze!

To soothe his mate to slumber, The feathered minstrel fills her bower

With many a tuneful number. And, hark! afar, a soft guitar

And voices sweet and clear; Your breast, I know, will softer grow

When strains like these you hear.

A wonderful prophetess you, no doubt,”

He answered her, laughing. “But you'll agree

A poem without them, this month, would be Like Hamlet with Hamlet himself left out.

Whoever would herald October's returning, Her livery must wear and her colors hang out; Tho' threadbare the trappings and ancient the

colors, 'Tis cruel the wearer and bearer to flout.

Now isn't it truly? Just answer me this,”

He asked her, with passionate, loving embrace, And sealed her red lips for a time with a kiss.

Oh, come, fair girl, and walk with me

These paths like silver glowing, And fill with music's honied draught

Thy soul to overflowing;
And lend thine ear again to hear

The tale I would repeat,
Of how my soul were freed from dole

If thou wert mine, oh sweet!


“Ah, well! but you'll sigh for the summer past,

For the butterflies gaudy and songs of birds,

And mention in sorrowful, tender words The blossom that lingers alone, the last;

And plaintively murder in pitiful verses About the approach of the merciless blast,

The snows and the blight and the wild desolation That come with the winter that's coming so fast. Say, honestly, won't you? Now tell me the

truth," She asked him, and pouted, as though she

believed That poets were gloomy repiners, forsooth!

HIGH-NICHED within the temple of my heart

An Idol stood, all faultless in my sight:

The rosy tint it wore in love's warm light,
Its pose, finisse de grain, and every part
Proportioned fitly by the sculptor's art,
Combined, it seemed, as seen from its great

To make a form divine; and day and night
My soul to it did adoration pay,
Till lo! in time, it fell upon

the ground, And right before my feet it broken lay,

When, scanning it amazedly, I found
'Twas but a coarse and faulty piece of clay.

My partial sight alone had made it seem
A work full meet to fill a master's dream.

“No, never-I swear it!” he then replied. “Repine I will never, nor care a fig

For vanishing blossom and leafless twig, As long as my darling is at my side.

The winter may bluster-I dread not its fury,



Is it best to be one of a garden of flowers

That blossoms in freedom from cover and wall, Where butterflies flit in the sunniest hours

And lightly pay court to the charms of them all;

Or best to be only a separate flower

That gladdens a house where it blossoms alone, Yet blossoms not only in sunniest hour, But cheers and is cherished when summer has

flown ?

Is it best to be one of a concert of songs

Whose varying melodies ravish the ear, And puzzle the listeners, who gather in throngs,

To tell which is sweeter of all that they hear;

Or best to be only a separate song

Whose resonant harmonies lighten and swell The heart of a toiler and render him strong

To shoulder his burden and carry it well?


Is it best to be one of a bevy of maids,

Light-hearted and joyous in youth's sunny days, Admired ere the bloom of their loveliness fades By gallants who court them with meaningless



tion of marked pre-eminence among his English brethren. He belongs to a class of versemakers whose ranks are certainly not overcrowded, and whose productions are distinguished chiefly by their fewness and their feebleness. The comic poet does not, in short, flourish in England. It was a day to be marked with a white stone when this quaint genius met Sir Arthur Sullivan. Their first joint production was called “Thespis; or, the Gods Grown Old,” which has already gone a long way on the road to the limbo of forgotten plays. Then came “Trial by Jury,” produced at the Royalty Theatre in March, 1864, the first emphatic success in a series of operettas that have made the names of Gilbert and Sullivan famous wherever the English language is spoken, and in a good many places where it is not. This pleasantry at the expense of the Bench and Bar was followed in 1877 by “The Sorcerer,” and next by “H. M. S. Pinafore," which ran at the Opera Comique for the almost unprecedented period of two years. “H. M. S. Pinafore" was followed by Pirates of Penzance;" then by “ Patience,” which mocked the folly of the so-called “æsthetic" craze, and in which the army came in for some of the good-natured satire that the navy had already had meted out to it; then by “Iolanthe," with its skits upon Parliament and the famous song of the sentry; next by “Princess Ida," in which Mr. Gilbert returned to a subject that he had previously treated in a blank verse burlesque; then by “The Mikado,” afterwards by “Ruddigore," and, finally, by “The Yeomen of the Guard,” produced at the Savoy, which, by-the-way, is one of the few theatres, like Wagner's at Bayreuth, expressly built for a particular series of operas. If Mr. Gilbert had done nothing else, his share in these delightful plays would have entitled him to lasting gratitude from all lovers of the stage. They did much to relieve the English theatre from the reproach of being a second-hand vehicle for the display of French opera-bouffé, showed the world that an English musician could more than hold his own on their chosen ground against an Offenbach or a Lecocq, and that other sources of humor were available than the erotic sentiment of a Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.

The libretti of these operettas, with their many dainty lyrics, form, however, only a small part of the work that Mr. Gilbert has one. His first piece was a burlesque on “L'Elisir d'Amore,” called “Dulcamara; or, the Little Duck and the

Or best to be only a dutiful wise,

With cares which the bosoms of wives ever hold, But loving and loved through the years of her life,

With love that is boundless and never grows cold?


Her summer days are gone,

But well I knew they teemed With all the sunny glow

Whereof in spring she dreamed. For see, her brow is smooth,

And look, her eyes are bright; O, well I know her summer days

Were joyous-filled with light.

The autumn days are come,

And beautiful are they,
With placid loveliness that marks

At eve the perfect day.
Her ways are sweet and kind,

Her voice is soft and low;
O, beautiful this autumn peace

Which follows summer's glow.

« PreviousContinue »