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Poems for 9th Graders

Table of Contents

The Canoe
The Canoe
by Tom Thomson
  1. Love is like a rose by Christina Georgina Rossetti
  2. The Pines by Ruby Archer
  3. The Chariot by Emily Dickinson
  4. A Poison Tree by William Blake
  5. A Vagabond Song by Bliss Carman
  6. How Sleep the Brave by William Collins
  7. The Heritage by James Russell Lowell
  8. Break, Break, Break by Alfred Tennyson
  9. The Eagle by James Gates Percival
  10. The Bridge by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  11. Thunderstorm on the Alps by George Gordon, Lord Byron
  12. The New England Pastor by Timothy Dwight
  13. A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  14. Horatius at the Bridge by Thomas B. Macaulay
  15. The Lesson by Paul Laurence Dunbar
  16. Nobility by Alice Cary
  17. The Lion and the Mouse by Jeffreys Taylor
  18. Life Sculpture by George Washington Doane
  19. The Pumpkins in the Corn by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  20. Be Thou My Vision by Dallan Forgaill

  1. Love is like a rose

    by Christina Georgina Rossetti

    Hope is like a harebell trembling from its birth,
    Love is like a rose the joy of all the earth;
    Faith is like a lily lifted high and white,
    Love is like a lovely rose the world’s delight;
    Harebells and sweet lilies show a thornless growth,
    But the rose with all its thorns excels them both.

    So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    – 1 Corinthians 13:13
  2. The Pines

    Old Settlers
    Old Settlers
    by Winslow Homer
    by Ruby Archer

    What ethics in the pine-grove lurk
    For keen of ear to sound—
    A myriad kindly ministers,
    Humility profound.

    The trees maintain a brotherhood,
    The earth exhales a prayer,
    Each bough a precious ointment pours
    In balm upon the air.

    The ferns a tender refuge grant
    To vagrant, rolling cone;
    The forest monarch woos the bird
    To share his royal throne.

    The willing branches move aside
    To leave the sunlight room;
    And in the whole broad, lovely wood,
    No envy makes a gloom.

    Come out and learn of pine-grove lore
    How sweet it is to give,
    What perfect rule for happiness,—
    To live and help to live.

  3. A Poison Tree

    Trees in the Moonlight
    Trees in the Moonlight
    by Carl Julius von Leypold
    by William Blake

    I was angry with my friend;
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe:
    I told it not, my wrath did grow.

    And I waterd it in fears,
    Night & morning with my tears:
    And I sunned it with smiles,
    And with soft deceitful wiles.

    And it grew both day and night.
    Till it bore an apple bright.
    And my foe beheld it shine,
    And he knew that it was mine.

    And into my garden stole,
    When the night had veild the pole;
    In the morning glad I see;
    My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

  4. A Vagabond Song

    On the Saco
    On the Saco
    by Albert Bierstadt
    by Bliss Carman

    There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood —
    Touch of manner, hint of mood;
    And my heart is like a rhyme,
    With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time....

    The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
    Of bugles going by.
    And my lonely spirit thrills
    To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

    There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
    We must rise and follow her,
    When from every hill of flame
    She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

  5. How Sleep the Brave

    by William Collins

    How sleep the brave, who sink to rest
    By all their country's wishes blest!
    When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
    Returns to deck their hallow'd mould,
    She there shall dress a sweeter sod
    Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.

    By fairy hands their knell is rung;
    By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
    There Honour comes, a pilgrim grey,
    To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
    And Freedom shall awhile repair
    To dwell, a weeping hermit, there!

  6. The Heritage

    The Reaper
    The Reaper
    by Winslow Homer

    Toil only gives the soul to shine,

    – James Russell Lowell
    The Heritage
    by James Russell Lowell

    The rich man's son inherits lands,
    And piles of brick, and stone, and gold,
    And he inherits soft white hands,
    And tender flesh that fears the cold,
    Nor dares to wear a garment old;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

    The rich man's son inherits cares;
    The bank may break, the factory burn,
    A breath may burst his bubble shares,
    And soft white hands could hardly earn
    A living that would serve his turn;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

    The rich man's son inherits wants,
    His stomach craves for dainty fare;
    With sated heart, he hears the pants
    Of toiling hinds with brown arms bare!
    And wearies in his easy-chair;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    One scarce would wish to hold in fee.

    What doth the poor man's son inherit?
    Stout muscles and a sinewy heart,
    A hardy frame, a hardier spirit;
    King of two hands, he does his part
    In every useful toil and art;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    A king might wish to hold in fee.

    What doth the poor man's son inherit?
    Wishes o'erjoyed with humble things,
    A rank adjudged by toil-won merit,
    Content that from employment springs,
    A heart that in his labor sings;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    A king might wish to hold in fee.

    What doth the poor man's son inherit?
    A patience learned of being poor,
    Courage, if sorrow come, to bear it,
    A fellow-feeling that is sure
    To make the outcast bless his door;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    A king might wish to hold in fee.

    O rich man's son! there is a toil
    That with all others level stands:
    Large charity doth never soil,
    But only whiten soft, white hands,—
    This is the best crop from thy lands;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    Worth being rich to hold in fee.

    O poor man's son! scorn not thy state;
    There is worse weariness than thine
    In merely being rich and great:
    Toil only gives the soul to shine,
    And makes rest fragrant and benign;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    Worth being poor to hold in fee.

    Both, heirs to some six feet of sod,
    Are equal in the earth at last;
    Both, children of the same dear God,
    Prove title to your heirship vast
    By record of a well-filled past;
    A heritage, it seems to me,
    Well worth a life to hold in fee.

  7. Break, Break, Break

    West Point, Prout's Neck
    West Point, Prout's Neck
    by Winslow Homer
    Alfred Tennyson

    Break, break, break,
    On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
    And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.

    Oh, well for the fisherman's boy,
    That he shouts with his sister at play!
    Oh, well for the sailor lad,
    That he sings in his boat on the bay!

    And the stately ships go on
    To their haven under the hill;
    But oh for the touch of a vanished hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!

    Break, break, break,
    At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
    But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.

  8. The Eagle

    by James Gates Percival

    Bird of the broad and sweeping wing!
    Thy home is high in heaven,
    Where the wide storms their banners fling,
    And the tempest clouds are driven.
    Thy throne is on the mountain top;
    Thy fields, the boundless air;
    And hoary peaks, that proudly prop
    The skies, thy dwellings are.

    Thou art perched aloft on the beetling crag,
    And the waves are white below,
    And on, with a haste that can not lag,
    They rush in an endless flow.
    Again thou hast plumed thy wing for flight
    To lands beyond the sea,
    And away, like a spirit wreathed in light,
    Thou hurriest, wild and free.

    Lord of the boundless realm of air!
    In thy imperial name,
    The hearts of the bold and ardent dare
    The dangerous path of fame,
    Beneath the shade of thy golden wings,
    The Roman legions bore,
    From the river of Egypt's cloudy springs,
    Their pride, to the polar shore.

    For thee they fought, for thee they fell,
    And their oath on thee was laid;
    To thee the clarions raised their swell,
    And the dying warrior prayed.
    Thou wert, through an age of death and fears,
    The image of pride and power,
    Till the gathered rage of a thousand years,
    Burst forth in one awful hour.

    And then, a deluge of wrath, it came,
    And the nations shook with dread;
    And it swept the earth, till its fields were flame,
    And piled with the mingled dead.
    Kings were rolled in the wasteful flood,
    With the low and crouching slave;
    And together lay, in a shroud of blood,
    The coward and the brave.

  9. The Bridge

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    I stood on the bridge at midnight,
    As the clocks were striking the hour,
    And the moon rose o'er the city,
    Behind the dark church tower.

    I saw her bright reflection
    In the waters under me,
    Like a golden goblet falling
    And sinking into the sea.

    And far in the hazy distance
    Of that lovely night in June,
    The blaze of the flaming furnace
    Gleamed redder than the moon.

    Among the long, black rafters
    The wavering shadows lay,
    And the current that came from the ocean
    Seemed to lift and bear them away;

    As, sweeping and eddying through them,
    Rose the belated tide,
    And, streaming into the moonlight,
    The seaweed floated wide.

    And like those waters rushing
    Among the wooden piers,
    A flood of thoughts came o'er me
    That filled my eyes with tears

    How often, oh, how often,
    In the days that had gone by,
    I had stood on that bridge at midnight
    And gazed on that wave and sky!

    How often, oh, how often,
    I had wished that the ebbing tide
    Would bear me away on its bosom
    O'er the ocean wild and wide.

    For my heart was hot and restless,
    And my life was full of care,
    And the burden laid upon me
    Seemed greater than I could bear.

    But now it has fallen from me,
    It is buried in the sea;
    And only the sorrow of others
    Throws its shadow over me.

    Yet, whenever I cross the river
    On its bridge with wooden piers,
    Like the odor of brine from the ocean
    Comes the thought of other years.

    And I think how many thousands
    Of care-encumbered men,
    Each bearing his burden of sorrow,
    Have crossed the bridge since then.

    I see the long procession
    Still passing to and fro,
    The young heart hot and restless,
    And the old, subdued and slow!

    And forever and forever,
    As long as the river flows,
    As long as the heart has passions,
    As long as life has woes;

    The moon and its broken reflection
    And its shadows shall appear
    As the symbol of love in heaven,
    And its wavering image here.

  10. Thunderstorm on the Alps

    George Gordon, Lord Byron

    Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
    With the wild world I dwell in, is a thing
    Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
    Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring.
    This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
    To waft me from distraction; once I loved
    Torn ocean's roar, but thy soft murmuring
    Sounds sweet, as if a sister's voice reproved,
    That I with stern delights should e'er have been so moved.

    All heaven and earth are still—though not in sleep,
    But breathless, as we grow when feeling most;
    And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep—
    All heaven and earth are still: from the high host
    Of stars, to the lulled lake and mountain coast,
    All is concentered in a life intense,
    Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
    But hath a part of being, and a sense
    Of that which is of all Creator and defense.

    The sky is changed! and such a change! O night,
    And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
    Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
    Of a dark eye in woman! Far along,
    From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
    Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
    But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
    And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
    Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud!

    And this is in the night.—Most glorious night!
    Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
    A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,—
    A portion of the tempest and of thee!
    How the lit lake shines,—a phosphoric sea!
    And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
    And now again, 'tis black,—and now, the glee
    Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain mirth,
    As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth.

    Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his way between
    Heights which appear as lovers who have parted
    In hate, whose mining depths so intervene,
    That they can meet no more, though broken-hearted;
    Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted,
    Love was the very root of the fond rage,
    Which blighted their life's bloom, and then—departed.
    Itself expired, but leaving them an age
    Of years, all winters,—war within themselves to wage.

    Now, where the quick Rhone thus hath cleft his way,
    The mightiest of the storms hath ta'en his stand!
    For here, not one, but many make their play,
    And fling their thunderbolts from hand to hand,
    Flashing and cast around! Of all the band,
    The brightest through these parted hills hath forked
    His lightnings,—as if he did understand,
    That in such gaps as desolation worked,
    There, the hot shaft should blast whatever therein lurked.

  11. The Chariot

    Boarding the Carriage, Rome
    Boarding the Carriage, Rome
    by Raffaello Sorbi
    by Emily Dickinson

    Because I could not stop for Death,
    He kindly stopped for me;
    The carriage held but just ourselves
    And Immortality.

    We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
    And I had put away
    My labor, and my leisure too,
    For his civility.

    We passed the school where children played,
    Their lessons scarcely done;
    We passed the fields of gazing grain,
    We passed the setting sun.

    We paused before a house that seemed
    A swelling of the ground;
    The roof was scarcely visible,
    The cornice but a mound.

    Since then 't is centuries; but each
    Feels shorter than the day
    I first surmised the horses' heads
    Were toward eternity.

  12. The New England Pastor

    Timothy Dwight

    The place, with east and western sides,
    A wide and verdant street divides:
    And here the houses faced the day,
    And there the lawns in beauty lay.
    There, turret-crowned, and central, stood
    A neat and solemn house of God.
    Across the way, beneath the shade
    Two elms with sober silence spread,
    The preacher lived. O'er all the place
    His mansion cast a Sunday grace;
    Dumb stillness sate the fields around;
    His garden seemed a hallowed ground;
    Swains ceased to laugh aloud, when near,
    And schoolboys never sported there.

    In the same mild and temperate zone,
    Twice twenty years, his course had run,
    His locks of flowing silver spread
    A crown of glory o'er his head;
    His face, the image of his mind,
    With grave and furrowed wisdom shined;
    Not cold; but glowing still, and bright;
    Yet glowing with October light:
    As evening blends, with beauteous ray,
    Approaching night with shining day.

    His Cure his thoughts engrossed alone:
    For them his painful course was run:
    To bless, to save, his only care;
    To chill the guilty soul with fear;
    To point the pathway to the skies,
    And teach, and urge, and aid, to rise;
    Where strait, and difficult to keep,
    It climbs, and climbs, o'er Virtue's steep.

  13. A Psalm of Life

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

    – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    A Psalm of Life
    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    What The Heart of The Young Man Said to the Psalmist.

    Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
    Life is but an empty dream!
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
    Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world’s broad field of battle,
    In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
    Be a hero in the strife!

    Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act,— act in the living Present!
    Heart within, and God o’erhead!

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

  14. Horatius at the Bridge

    Horatius Cocles Defending Rome Against the Etruscans
    Horatius Cocles Defending Rome Against the Etruscans
    by a Follower of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
    by Thomas B. Macaulay

    Lars Porsena of Clusium,
    By the Nine Gods he swore
    That the great house of Tarquin
    Should suffer wrong no more.
    By the Nine Gods he swore it,
    And named a trysting-day,
    And bade his messengers ride forth,
    East and west and south and north,
    To summon his array.

    East and west and south and north
    The messengers ride fast,
    And tower and town and cottage
    Have heard the trumpet's blast.
    Shame on the false Etruscan
    Who lingers in his home
    When Porsena of Clusium
    Is on the march for Rome!

    The horsemen and the footmen
    Are pouring in amain,
    From many a stately market-place,
    From many a fruitful plain;
    From many a lonely hamlet,
    Which, hid by beech and pine,
    Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest
    Of purple Apennine.

    The harvests of Arretium,
    This year, old men shall reap;
    This year, young boys in Umbro
    Shall plunge the struggling sheep;
    And in the vats of Luna,
    This year, the must shall foam
    Round the white feet of laughing girls
    Whose sires have marched to Rome.

    There be thirty chosen prophets,
    The wisest of the land,
    Who alway by Lars Porsena
    Both morn and evening stand:
    Evening and morn the Thirty
    Have turned the verses o'er,
    Traced from the right on linen white
    By mighty seers of yore.

    And with one voice the Thirty
    Have their glad answer given:
    "Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena;
    Go forth, beloved of Heaven;
    Go, and return in glory
    To Clusium's royal dome;
    And hang round Nurscia's altarsv The golden shields of Rome."

    And now hath every city
    Sent up her tale of men;
    The foot are fourscore thousand,
    The horse are thousands ten.
    Before the gates of Sutrium
    Is met the great array.
    A proud man was Lars Porsena
    Upon the trysting-day.

    For all the Etruscan armies
    Were ranged beneath his eye,
    And many a banished Roman,
    And many a stout ally;
    And with a mighty following
    To join the muster came
    The Tusculan Mamilius,
    Prince of the Latian name.

    But by the yellow Tiber
    Was tumult and affright:
    From all the spacious champaign
    To Rome men took their flight.
    A mile around the city,
    The throng stopped up the ways;
    A fearful sight it was to see
    Through two long nights and days.

    Now, from the rock Tarpeian,
    Could the wan burghers spy
    The line of blazing villages
    Red in the midnight sky.
    The Fathers of the City,
    They sat all night and day,
    For every hour some horseman came
    With tidings of dismay.

    To eastward and to westward
    Have spread the Tuscan bands;
    Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecot,
    In Crustumerium stands.
    Verbenna down to Ostia
    Hath wasted all the plain;
    Astur hath stormed Janiculum,
    And the stout guards are slain.

    I wis, in all the Senate,
    There was no heart so bold,
    But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
    When that ill news was told.
    Forthwith up rose the Consul,
    Up rose the Fathers all;
    In haste they girded up their gowns,
    And hied them to the wall.

    They held a council standing
    Before the River Gate;
    Short time was there, ye well may guess,
    For musing or debate.
    Out spoke the Consul roundly:
    "The bridge must straight go down;
    For, since Janiculum is lost,
    Naught else can save the town."

    Just then a scout came flying,
    All wild with haste and fear:
    "To arms! to arms! Sir Consul;
    Lars Porsena is here."
    On the low hills to westward
    The Consul fixed his eye,
    And saw the swarthy storm of dust
    Rise fast along the sky.

    And nearer, fast, and nearer
    Doth the red whirlwind come;
    And louder still, and still more loud,
    From underneath that rolling cloud,
    Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,
    The trampling and the hum.
    And plainly and more plainly
    Now through the gloom appears,
    Far to left and far to right,
    In broken gleams of dark-blue light,
    The long array of helmets bright,
    The long array of spears.

    And plainly and more plainly,
    Above the glimmering line,
    Now might ye see the banners
    Of twelve fair cities shine;
    But the banner of proud Clusium
    Was the highest of them all,
    The terror of the Umbrian,
    The terror of the Gaul.

    Fast by the royal standard,
    O'erlooking all the war,
    Lars Porsena of Clusium
    Sat in his ivory car.
    By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
    Prince of the Latian name,
    And by the left false Sextus,
    That wrought the deed of shame.

    But when the face of Sextus
    Was seen among the foes,
    A yell that rent the firmament
    From all the town arose.
    On the house-tops was no woman
    But spat toward him and hissed,
    No child but screamed out curses,
    And shook its little fist.

    But the Consul's brow was sad,
    And the Consul's speech was low,
    And darkly looked he at the wall,
    And darkly at the foe.
    "Their van will be upon us
    Before the bridge goes down;
    And if they once may win the bridge,
    What hope to save the town?"

    Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the Gate:
    "To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late;
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his gods.

    "And for the tender mother
    Who dandled him to rest,
    And for the wife who nurses
    His baby at her breast,
    And for the holy maidens
    Who feed the eternal flame,
    To save them from false Sextus
    That wrought the deed of shame?

    "Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
    With all the speed ye may;
    I, with two more to help me,
    Will hold the foe in play.
    In yon straight path a thousand
    May well be stopped by three.
    Now who will stand on either hand,
    And keep the bridge with me?"

    Then out spake Spurius Lartius—
    A Ramnian proud was he—
    I will stand at thy right hand,
    And keep the bridge with thee."
    And out spake strong Herminius—
    Of Titian blood was he—
    "I will abide on thy left side,
    And keep the bridge with thee."

    "Horatius," quoth the Consul,
    "As thou say'st, so let it be,"
    And straight against that great array
    Forth went the dauntless Three.
    For Romans in Rome's quarrel
    Spared neither land nor gold,
    Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
    In the brave days of old.

    Now while the Three were tightening
    Their harness on their backs,
    The Consul was the foremost man
    To take in hand an ax;
    And Fathers mixed with Commons
    Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,
    And smote upon the planks above,
    And loosed the props below.
    Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
    Right glorious to behold,
    Came flashing back the noonday light,
    Rank behind rank, like surges bright
    Of a broad sea of gold.

    Four hundred trumpets sounded
    A peal of warlike glee,
    As that great host, with measured tread,
    And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
    Rolled slowly toward the bridge's head,
    Where stood the dauntless Three.

    The Three stood calm and silent,
    And looked upon the foes,
    And a great shout of laughter
    From all the vanguard rose:
    And forth three chiefs came spurring
    Before that deep array;
    To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
    And lifted high their shields, and flew
    To win the narrow way;

    Aunus from green Tifernum,
    Lord of the Hill of Vines;
    And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves
    Sicken in Ilva's mines;
    And Picus, long to Clusium
    Vassal in peace and war,
    Who led to fight his Umbrian powers
    From that gray crag where, girt with towers,
    The fortress of Nequinum lowers
    O'er the pale waves of Nar.

    Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
    Into the stream beneath;
    Herminius struck at Seius,
    And clove him to the teeth;
    At Picus brave Horatius
    Darted one fiery thrust;
    And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
    Clashed in the bloody dust.

    Then Ocnus of Falerii
    Rushed on the Roman Three;
    And Lausulus of Urgo,
    The rover of the sea;
    And Aruns of Volsinium,
    Who slew the great wild boar,
    The great wild boar that had his den
    Amid the reeds of Cosa's fen.
    And wasted fields and slaughtered men
    Along Albinia's shore.

    Herminius smote down Aruns;
    Lartius laid Ocnus low;
    Right to the heart of Lausulus
    Horatius sent a blow.
    "Lie there," he cried, "fell pirate!
    No more, aghast and pale,
    From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark
    The tracks of thy destroying bark,
    No more Campania's hinds shall fly
    To woods and caverns when they spy
    Thy thrice accurséd sail."

    But now no sound of laughter
    Was heard among the foes.
    A wild and wrathful clamour
    From all the vanguard rose.
    Six spears' length from the entrance
    Halted that deep array,
    And for a space no man came forth
    To win the narrow way.

    But hark! the cry is Astur:
    And lo! the ranks divide;
    And the great Lord of Luna
    Comes with his stately stride.
    Upon his ample shoulders
    Clangs loud the fourfold shield,
    And in his hand he shakes the brand
    Which none but he can wield.

    He smiled on those bold Romans,
    A smile serene and high;
    He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
    And scorn was in his eye.
    Quoth he: "The she-wolf's litter
    Stand savagely at bay;
    But will ye dare to follow,
    If Astur clears the way?"

    Then, whirling up his broadsword
    With both hands to the height,
    He rushed against Horatius,
    And smote with all his might.
    With shield and blade Horatius
    Right deftly turned the blow.
    The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;
    It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh:
    The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
    To see the red blood flow.

    He reeled, and on Herminius
    He leaned one breathing space;
    Then, like a wildcat mad with wounds,
    Sprang right at Astur's face.
    Through teeth, and skull, and helmet,
    So fierce a thrust he sped,
    The good sword stood a handbreadth out
    Behind the Tuscan's head.

    And the great Lord of Luna
    Fell at the deadly stroke,
    As falls on Mount Alvernus
    A thunder-smitten oak.
    Far o'er the crashing forest
    The giant arms lie spread;
    And the pale augurs, muttering low,
    Gaze on the blasted head.

    On Astur's throat Horatius
    Right firmly pressed his heel,
    And thrice and four times tugged amain
    Ere he wrenched out the steel.
    "And see," he cried, "the welcome,
    Fair guests, that waits you here!
    What noble Lucumo comes next
    To taste our Roman cheer?"

    But at his haughty challenge
    A sullen murmur ran,
    Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread,
    Along that glittering van.
    There lacked not men of prowess,
    Nor men of lordly race;
    For all Etruria's noblest
    Were round the fatal place.

    But all Etruria's noblest
    Felt their hearts sink to see
    On the earth the bloody corpses,
    In the path the dauntless Three:
    And, from the ghastly entrance
    Where those bold Romans stood,
    All shrank, like boys who unaware,
    Ranging the woods to start a hare,
    Come to the mouth of the dark lair
    Where, growling low, a fierce old bear
    Lies amid bones and blood.

    Was none who would be foremost
    To lead such dire attack?
    But those behind cried "Forward!"
    And those before cried "Back!"
    And backward now and forward
    Wavers the deep array;
    And on the tossing sea of steel
    To and fro the standards reel;
    And the victorious trumpet peal
    Dies fitfully away.

    Yet one man for one moment Strode out before the crowd;
    Well known was he to all the Three, And they gave him greeting loud:
    "Now welcome, welcome, Sextus! Now welcome to thy home!
    Why dost thou stay, and turn away? Here lies the road to Rome."

    Thrice looked he at the city;
    Thrice looked he at the dead;
    And thrice came on in fury,
    And thrice turned back in dread:
    And, white with fear and hatred,
    Scowled at the narrow way
    Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,
    The bravest Tuscans lay.

    But meanwhile ax and lever
    Have manfully been plied,
    And now the bridge hangs tottering
    Above the boiling tide.
    "Come back, come back, Horatius!"
    Loud cried the Fathers all.
    "Back, Lartius! Back, Herminius!
    Back, ere the ruin fall!"

    Back darted Spurius Lartius;
    Herminius darted back:
    And, as they passed, beneath their feet
    They felt the timbers crack.
    But when they turned their faces,
    And on the farther shore
    Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
    They would have crossed once more.

    But with a crash like thunder
    Fell every loosened beam,
    And, like a dam, the mighty wreck
    Lay right athwart the stream;
    And a long shout of triumph
    Rose from the walls of Rome,
    As to the highest turret tops
    Was splashed the yellow foam.

    And, like a horse unbroken
    When first he feels the rein,
    The furious river struggled hard,
    And tossed his tawny mane;
    And burst the curb, and bounded,
    Rejoicing to be free,
    And whirling down, in fierce career,
    Battlement, and plank, and pier,
    Rushed headlong to the sea.

    Alone stood brave Horatius,
    But constant still in mind;
    Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
    And the broad flood behind.
    "Down with him!" cried false Sextus,
    With a smile on his pale face.
    "Now yield thee," cried Lars Porsena,
    "Now yield thee to our grace."

    Round turned he, as not deigning
    Those craven ranks to see;
    Naught spake he to Lars Porsena,
    To Sextus naught spake he;
    But he saw on Palatinus
    The white porch of his home;
    And he spake to the noble river
    That rolls by the towers of Rome:

    "O Tiber! Father Tiber!
    To whom the Romans pray,
    A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
    Take thou in charge this day!"
    So he spake, and speaking sheathed
    The good sword by his side,
    And, with his harness on his back,
    Plunged headlong in the tide.

    No sound of joy or sorrow
    Was heard from either bank;
    But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
    With parted lips and straining eyes,
    Stood gazing where he sank;
    And when above the surges
    They saw his crest appear,
    All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
    And even the ranks of Tuscany
    Could scarce forbear to cheer.

    And fiercely ran the current,
    Swollen high by months of rain;
    And fast his blood was flowing,
    And he was sore in pain,
    And heavy with his armour,
    And spent with changing blows:
    And oft they thought him sinking,
    But still again he rose.

    Never, I ween, did swimmer,
    In such an evil case,
    Struggle through such a raging flood
    Safe to the landing place;
    But his limbs were borne up bravely
    By the brave heart within,
    And our good Father Tiber
    Bore bravely up his chin.

    "Curse on him!" quoth false Sextus;
    "Will not the villain drown?
    But for this stay, ere close of day
    We should have sacked the town!"
    "Heaven help him!" quoth Lars Porsena,
    "And bring him safe to shore;
    For such a gallant feat of arms
    Was never seen before."

    And now he feels the bottom;
    Now on dry earth he stands;
    Now round him throng the Fathers
    To press his gory hands;
    And now with shouts and clapping,
    And noise of weeping loud,
    He enters through the River Gate,
    Borne by the joyous crowd.

    They gave him of the corn land,
    That was of public right.
    As much as two strong oxen
    Could plow from morn till night:
    And they made a molten image,
    And set it up on high,
    And there it stands unto this day
    To witness if I lie.

    It stands in the Comitium,
    Plain for all folk to see,—
    Horatius in his harness,
    Halting upon one knee:
    And underneath is written,
    In letters all of gold,
    How valiantly he kept the bridge
    In the brave days of old.

    And still his name sounds stirring
    Unto the men of Rome,
    As the trumpet blast that cries to them
    To charge the Volscian home;
    And wives still pray to Juno
    For boys with hearts as bold
    As his who kept the bridge so well
    In the brave days of old.

    And in the nights of winter,
    When the cold north winds blow,
    And the long howling of the wolves
    Is heard amid the snow;
    When round the lonely cottage
    Roars loud the tempest's din,
    And the good logs of Algidus
    Roar louder yet within;

    When the oldest cask is opened,
    And the largest lamp is lit;
    When the chestnuts glow in the embers,
    And the kid turns on the spit;
    When young and old in circle
    Around the firebrands close;
    When the girls are weaving baskets,
    And the lads are shaping bows;

    When the goodman mends his armour,
    And trims his helmet's plume;
    When the goodwife's shuttle merrily
    Goes flashing through the loom,—
    With weeping and with laughter
    Still is the story told,
    How well Horatius kept the bridge
    In the brave days of old.

  15. The Lesson

    In trying to soothe another's woes
    Mine own had passed away.

    – Paul Laurence Dunbar
    The Lesson
    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    My cot was down by a cypress grove,
    And I sat by my window the whole night long,
    And heard well up from the deep dark wood
    A mocking-bird's passionate song.

    And I thought of myself so sad and lone,
    And my life's cold winter that knew no spring;
    Of my mind so weary and sick and wild,
    Of my heart too sad to sing.

    But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's song,
    A thought stole into my saddened heart,
    And I said, "I can cheer some other soul
    By a carol's simple art."

    For oft from the darkness of hearts and lives
    Come songs that brim with joy and light,
    As out of the gloom of the cypress grove
    The mocking-bird sings at night.

    So I sang a lay for a brother's ear
    In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart,
    And he smiled at the sound of my voice and lyre,
    Though mine was a feeble art.

    But at his smile I smiled in turn,
    And into my soul there came a ray:
    In trying to soothe another's woes
    Mine own had passed away.

  16. Nobility

    True worth is in being, not seeming,—

    - Alice Cary
    by Alice Cary

    True worth is in being, not seeming,—
    In doing, each day that goes by,
    Some little good—not in dreaming
    Of great things to do by and by.
    For whatever men say in their blindness,
    And spite of the fancies of youth,
    There’s nothing so kingly as kindness,
    And nothing so royal as truth.

    We get back our meet as we measure—
    We cannot do wrong and feel right,
    Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
    For justice avenges each slight.
    The air for the wing of the sparrow,
    The bush for the robin and wren,
    But always the path that is narrow
    And straight, for the children of men.

    ‘Tis not in the pages of story
    The heart of its ills to begulie,
    Though he who makes courtship to glory
    Gives all that he hath for her smile.
    For when from her heights he has won her,
    Alas it is only to prove
    That nothing’s so sacred as honor,
    And nothing so loyal as love!

    We cannot make bargains for blisses,
    Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
    And sometimes the thing our life misses
    Helps more than the thing which it gets.
    For good lieth not in pursuing,
    Nor gaining of great nor of small,
    But just in the doing, and doing
    As we would be done by, is all.

    Through envy, through malice, through hating,
    Against the world, early and late,
    No jot of our courage abating—
    Our part is to work and wait.
    And slight is the sting of his trouble
    Whose winnings are less than his worth;
    For he who is honest and noble,
    Whatever his fortunes or birth.

  17. The Lion and the Mouse

    Few are so small or weak, I guess,
    But may assist us in distress,
    Nor shall we ever, if we're wise,
    The meanest, or the least despise.

    – Jeffreys Taylor
    The Lion and the Mouse
    by Jeffreys Taylor

    A lion with the heat oppressed,
    One day composed himself to rest:
    But while he dozed as he intended,
    A mouse, his royal back ascended;
    Nor thought of harm, as Aesop tells,
    Mistaking him for someone else;
    And travelled over him, and round him,
    And might have left him as she found him
    Had she not—tremble when you hear—
    Tried to explore the monarch's ear!
    Who straightway woke, with wrath immense,
    And shook his head to cast her thence.
    "You rascal, what are you about?"
    Said he, when he had turned her out,
    "I'll teach you soon," the lion said,
    "To make a mouse-hole in my head!"
    So saying, he prepared his foot
    To crush the trembling tiny brute;
    But she (the mouse) with tearful eye,
    Implored the lion's clemency,
    Who thought it best at last to give
    His little prisoner a reprieve.

    'Twas nearly twelve months after this,
    The lion chanced his way to miss;
    When pressing forward, heedless yet,
    He got entangled in a net.
    With dreadful rage, he stamped and tore,
    And straight commenced a lordly roar;
    When the poor mouse, who heard the noise,
    Attended, for she knew his voice.
    Then what the lion's utmost strength
    Could not effect, she did at length;
    With patient labor she applied
    Her teeth, the network to divide;
    And so at last forth issued he,
    A lion, by a mouse set free.

    Few are so small or weak, I guess,
    But may assist us in distress,
    Nor shall we ever, if we're wise,
    The meanest, or the least despise.

  18. Life Sculpture

    by George Washington Doane

    Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
    With his marble block before him,
    And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
    As an angel-dream passed o’er him.

    He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
    With many a sharp incision;
    With heaven’s own flight the sculpture shone,—
    He’d caught that angel-vision.

    Children of life are we, as we stand
    With our lives uncarved before us,
    Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
    Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.

    If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
    With many a sharp incision,
    Its heavenly beauty shall be our own,—
    Our lives, that angel-vision.

    Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

    – Isaiah 64:8
    The Bible, NIV
  19. The Pumpkins in the Corn

    Corn Shocks and Pumpkins
    Corn Shocks and Pumpkins
    by William Trost Richards
    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    Amber and blue, the smoke behind the hill,
    Where in the glow fades out the morning star,
    Curtains the autumn cornfield, sloped afar,
    And strikes an acrid savour on the chill.
    The hilltop fence shines saffron o'er the still
    Unbending ranks of bunched and bleaching corn,
    And every pallid stalk is crisp with morn,
    Crisp with the silver autumn morns distil.

    Purple the narrowing alleys stretched between
    The spectral shocks, a purple harsh and cold,
    But spotted, where the gadding pumpkins run,
    With bursts of blaze that startle the serene
    Like sudden voices,—globes of orange bold,
    Elate to mimic the unrisen sun.

  20. Be Thou My Vision

    by Dallán Forgaill

    Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
    Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
    Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

    Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word;
    I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
    Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
    Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

    Be Thou my battle shield, sword for the fight;
    Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight;
    Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower:
    Raise Thou me heav’nward, O power of my power.

    Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
    Thou mine inheritance, now and always:
    Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
    High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.

    High King of Heaven, my victory won,
    May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
    Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
    Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

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