The Trumpeter, an Old English Tale

It was in the days of a gay British King
(In the old fashion'd custom of merry-making)
The Palace of Woodstock with revels did ring,
While they sang and carous'd--one and all:
For the monarch a plentiful treasury had,
And his Courtiers were pleas'd, and no visage was sad,
And the knavish and foolish with drinking were mad,
While they sat in the Banquetting hall.

Some talk'd of their Valour, and some of their Race,
And vaunted, till vaunting was black in the face;
Some bragg'd for a title, and some for a place,


The Traveller or, A Prospect of Society excerpt

...

But where to find that happiest spot below
Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
The shudd'ring tenant of the frigid zone
Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own;
Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,
And his long nights of revelry and ease:
The naked negro, panting at the line,
Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine,
Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
And thanks his gods for all the good they gave.
Such is the patriot's boast where'er we roam,


The Towers of Time

Under what withering leprous light
The very grass as hair is grey,
Grass in the cracks of the paven courts
Of gods we graved but yesterday.
Senate, republic, empire, all
We leaned our backs on like a wall
And blessed as stron as strong and blamed as stolid--
Can it be these that waver and fall?
And what is this like a ghost returning,
A dream grown strong in the strong daylight?
The all-forsaken, the unforgotten,
The ever-behind and out of sight.


The Sweets of Evening

The sweets of evening charm the mind,
Sick of the sultry day;
The body then no more confin'd,
But exercise with freedom join'd,
When Phoebus sheathes his ray.

While all-serene the summer moon
Sends glances thro' the trees,
And Philomel begins her tune,.
And Asteria too shall help her soon
With voice of skillful ease.

A nosegay, every thing that grows,
And music, every sound
To lull the sun to his repose;
The skies are colour'd like the rose
With lively streaks around.


The Sunlight on the Garden

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying


The Spooniad

[The late Mr. Jonathan Swift Somers, laureate of Spoon River, planned The Spooniad as an epic in twenty-four books, but unfortunately did not live to complete even the first book. The fragment was found among his papers by William Marion Reedy and was for the first time published in Reedy's Mirror of December 18th, 1914.]


Of John Cabanis' wrath and of the strife
Of hostile parties, and his dire defeat
Who led the common people in the cause
Of freedom for Spoon River, and the fall
Of Rhodes' bank that brought unnumbered woes


The Stars Go Over The Lonely Ocean

Unhappy about some far off things
That are not my affair, wandering
Along the coast and up the lean ridges,
I saw in the evening
The stars go over the lonely ocean,
And a black-maned wild boar
Plowing with his snout on Mal Paso Mountain.

The old monster snuffled, "Here are sweet roots,
Fat grubs, slick beetles and sprouted acorns.
The best nation in Europe has fallen,
And that is Finland,
But the stars go over the lonely ocean,"
The old black-bristled boar,
Tearing the sod on Mal Paso Mountain.


The Song Of The Standard

Maiden most beautiful, mother most bountiful, lady of lands,
Queen and republican, crowned of the centuries whose years are thy sands,
See for thy sake what we bring to thee, Italy, here in our hands.

This is the banner thy gonfalon, fair in the front of thy fight,
Red from the hearts that were pierced for thee, white as thy mountains are white,
Green as the spring of thy soul everlasting, whose life-blood is light.

Take to thy bosom thy banner, a fair bird fit for the nest,


The Song Of The Pacifist

What do they matter, our headlong hates, when we take the toll of our Dead?
Think ye our glory and gain will pay for the torrent of blood we have shed?
By the cheers of our Victory will the heart of the mother be comforted?

If by the Victory all we mean is a broken and brooding foe;
Is the pomp and power of a glitt'ring hour, and a truce for an age or so:
By the clay-cold hand on the broken blade we have smitten a bootless blow!

If by the Triumph we only prove that the sword we sheathe is bright;


The Song of the Cicadas

Yesterday there came to me
from a green and graceful tree
as I loitered listlessly
nothing doing, nothing caring,
light and warmth and fragrance sharing
with the butterfly and the bee,
while the sapling-tops a-glisten
danced and trembled, wild and willing
such a sudden sylvan shrilling
that I could not choose but listen
Green Cicadas, Black Cicadas,
happy in the gracious weather,
Floury-baker, Double-Drummer,
all as one and all together,
how they voiced the golden summer.


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