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Good Words 1860
Without and Within


Once spake a gray-hair'd poet: A noble thing and good
To strike a heat adown the chain of our great brotherhood;
To send the blazing torch of truth from eager hand to hand,
To bid thought's swift electric wire vibrate from land to land.

To nurse a generous seed that in the mind hath taken root,
Then waft it forth on kindlier soil to come to nobler fruit,
By fire-lit hearth, in love-lit heart, a heritage to claim;
This
have men call'd an idle breath, the vanity of Fame!

But as to champing steed the noise of battle from afar,
That bids him paw the ground, and neigh to trumpet-sound, Ha, ha,
Is Fame to poet-soul, and mine hath shared among the rest;
Yet was the praise of earliest days the sweetest and the best!

And it is with me now as when with keen, ambitious breast,
At school I struggled with my mates, and ever foremost press'd;
Yet knew not what I won—the worth or sweetness of my prize—-
Till I took it home, and read them both within my mother's eyes!

My mother! She to whom I read my earliest rude essays,
"Who pinn'd my verses in her gown, and on her household ways,
As she kept moving, to herself she said them ever soft;
I had a true-love afterwards that read them not so oft!

And He, the kind old bachelor whose heart had been for one
Too much, and so he shared it out with all beneath the sun—
I see his broad and honest brow, the sparkle in his eye,
(A steadfast fire undimm'd by age,) I hear his slow reply.

The patientest of anglers he, and I the quietest
Of dreamy boys, true comrades we,—he chose me from the rest;
Content to saunter by his side in silence through the day,
Through coppice and by stream, the while my thoughts were far away,

Perhaps with Crusoe in his isle; our noonday meal we took,
Beneath an old gray-lichen'd rock that beetled o'er the brook;
Then were our tongues set free at last! not learning much nor wit
"Went with our simple fare, but talk as well that sea-son'd it.

I never hear a chafing brook, nor see the smooth stones lie
Beneath it golden-brown, or mark the mailed dragonfly
Shoot past, but something o'er my soul a summer feeling sends,
That brings my good old kinsman back, and all my boyhood's friends.

One still is left—the friend that fought my battles out at school;
Now would he fight them with the world, if ever it should cool
To verse of mine—yes, inch by inch contending: not a line
He reads, but takes them all on trust, content that they are mine.

Now have I made me store of friends the kindred of my mind;
They give unto me of their wealth, I pay them back in kind;
The world needs music at its feasts, it bids me welcome free;
It loves me for the songs I sing, but these loved my songs for me!

And so to such as these my heart flies back, a thing set free;
It craveth more than doth the mind, less cold equality;
Love is the one true leveller below—he bringctli down,
He raiseth up, he sets on all his chosen brows a crown:

For he hath gold enough, enough of sweetness in his tone
To lend an echo unto Fame far deeper than its own;
Its hollow cymbal sound is gone, and hush'd its selfish din,
When praising from "Without is met by loving from "Within.

D. G.


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