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 . Paul to Virginia

    Fin de siècle [Fr. - end of an era / beginning of a new one]

    I REALLY must confess, my dear,
       I cannot help but love you,
    For of all girls I ever knew,
       There's none I place above you;
    But then you know it's rather hard,
       To dangle aimless at your skirt,
    And watch your every movement so,
       For I am jealous, and you're a flirt.

    There's half a score of fellows round,
       You smile at every one,
    And as I think to pride myself for basking in the sun
    Of your sweet smiles, you laugh at me,
       And treat me like a lump of dirt,
    Until I wish that I were dead,
       For I am jealous, and you're a flirt.

    I'm sorry that I've ever known
       Your loveliness entrancing,
    Or ever saw your laughing eyes,
       With girlish mischief dancing;
    'Tis agony supreme and rare
    To see your slender waist a-girt
    With other fellows' arms, you see,
       For I am jealous, and you're a flirt.

    Now, girlie, if you'll promise me,
       To never, never treat me mean,
    I'll show you in a little while,
       The best sweetheart you've ever seen;
    You do not seem to know or care,
       How often you've my feelings hurt,
    While flying round with other boys,
       For I am jealous, and you're a flirt.

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


 . In Memoriam

    THE light streams through the windows arched high,
       And o'er the stern, stone carvings breaks
       In warm rich gold and crimson waves,
    Then steals away in corners dark to die.

    And all the grand cathedral silence falls
       Into the hearts of those that worship low,
       Like tender waves of hushed nothingness,
    Confined nor kept by human earthly walls.

    Deep music in its thundering organ sounds,
       Grows diffuse through the echoing space,
       Till hearts grow still in sadness' mighty joy,
    Or leap aloft in swift ecstatic bounds.

    Mayhap 'twas but a dream that came to me,
       Or but a vision of the soul's desire,
       To see the nation in one mighty whole,
    Do homage on its bended, worshipping knee.

    Through time's heroic actions, the soul of man,
       Alone proves what that soul without earth's dross
       Could be, and this, through time's far-searching fire,
    Hath proved thine white beneath the deepest scan.

    A woman's tribute, 'tis a tiny dot,
       A merest flower from a frail, small hand,
       To lay among the many petaled wreaths
    About thy form,--a tribute soon forgot.

    But if in all the incense to arise
       In fragrance to the blue empyrean
       The blended sweetness of the womens' love
    Goes pouring too, in all their heartfelt sighs.

    And if one woman's sorrow be among them too,
       One woman's joy for labor past
       Be reckoned in the mighty teeming whole,
    It is enough, there is not more to do.

    Within the hearts of heroes small and great
       There 'bides a tenderness for weakling things
       Within thy heart, the sorrowing country knows
    These passions, bravest and the tenderest mate.

    When man is dust, before the gazing eyes
       Of all the gaping throng, his life lies wide
       For all to see and whisper low about
    Or let their thoughts in discord's clatter rise.

    But thine was pure and undefiled,
       A record of long brilliant, teeming days,
       Each thought did tend to further things,
    But pure as the proverbial child.

    Oh, people, that thy grief might find express
       To gather in some vast cathedral's hall,
       That then in unity we might kneel and hear
    Sublimity in sounds, voice our distress.

    Peace, peace, the men of God cry, ye be bold,
       The world hath known, 'tis Heaven who claims him now,
       And in our railings we but cast aside
    The noble traits he bid us hold.

    So though divided through the land, in dreams
       We see a people kneeling low,
       Bowed down in heart and soul to see
    This fearful sorrow, crushing as it seems.

    And all the grand cathedral silence falls
       Into the hearts of these that worship low,
       Like tender waves of hushed nothingness,
    Confined, nor kept by human earthly walls.

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


 . At Bay St. Louis

    SOFT breezes blow and swiftly show
       Through fragrant orange branches parted,
    A maiden fair, with sun-flecked hair,
       Caressed by arrows, golden darted.
    The vine-clad tree holds forth to me
       A promise sweet of purple blooms,
    And chirping bird, scarce seen but heard
       Sings dreamily, and sweetly croons
       At Bay St. Louis.

    The hammock swinging, idly singing,
       Lissome nut-brown maid
       Swings gaily, freely, to-and-fro;
    The curling, green-white waters casting cool, clear shade,
       Rock small, shell boats that go
    In circles wide, or tug at anchor's chain,
    As though to skim the sea with cargo vain,
       At Bay St. Louis.

       The maid swings slower, slower to-and-fro,
    And sunbeams kiss gray, dreamy half-closed eyes;
       Fond lover creeping on with foot steps slow,
    Gives gentle kiss, and smiles at sweet surprise.

       *      *      *      *      *

       The lengthening shadows tell that eve is nigh,
       And fragrant zephyrs cool and calmer grow,
    Yet still the lover lingers, and scarce breathed sigh,
       Bids the swift hours to pause, nor go,
       At Bay St. Louis.

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


 . New Year's Day

    THE poor old year died hard; for all the earth lay cold
       And bare beneath the wintry sky;
    While grey clouds scurried madly to the west,
       And hid the chill young moon from mortal sight.
    Deep, dying groans the aged year breathed forth,
       In soughing winds that wailed a requiem sad
    In dull crescendo through the mournful air.

    The new year now is welcomed noisily
       With din and song and shout and clanging bell,
    And all the glare and blare of fiery fun.
    Sing high the welcome to the New Year's morn!
       Le roi est mort. Vive, vive le roi! cry out,            [Fr. - The King is Dead, Long live the king!]
    And hail the new-born king of coming days.

    Alas! the day is spent and eve draws nigh;
    The king's first subject dies--for naught,
    And wasted moments by the hundred score
       Of past years rise like spectres grim
    To warn, that these days may not idly glide away.
    Oh, New Year, youth of promise fair!
       What dost thou hold for me? An aching heart?
    Or eyes burnt blind by unshed tears? Or stabs,
       More keen because unseen?
    Nay, nay, dear youth, I've had surfeit
       Of sorrow's feast. The monarch dead
    Did rule me with an iron hand. Be thou a friend,
       A tender, loving king--and let me know
    The ripe, full sweetness of a happy year.

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


 . Amid the Roses

    THERE is tropical warmth and languorous life
       Where the roses lie
       In a tempting drift
    Of pink and red and golden light
    Untouched as yet by the pruning knife.
    And the still, warm life of the roses fair
       That whisper "Come,"
       With promises
    Of sweet caresses, close and pure
    Has a thorny whiff in the perfumed air.
    There are thorns and love in the roses' bed,
       And Satan too
       Must linger there;
    So Satan's wiles and the conscience stings,
    Must now abide--the roses are dead.

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


 . The Idler

    AN IDLE lingerer on the wayside's road,
    He gathers up his work and yawns away;
    A little longer, ere the tiresome load
    Shall be reduced to ashes or to clay.

    No matter if the world has marched along,
    And scorned his slowness as it quickly passed;
    No matter, if amid the busy throng,
    He greets some face, infantile at the last.

    His mission? Well, there is but one,
    And if it is a mission he knows it, nay,
    To be a happy idler, to lounge and sun,
    And dreaming, pass his long-drawn days away.

    So dreams he on, his happy life to pass
    Content, without ambitions painful sighs,
    Until the sands run down into the glass;
    He smiles--content--unmoved and dies.

    And yet, with all the pity that you feel
    For this poor mothling of that flame, the world;
    Are you the better for your desperate deal,
    When you, like him, into infinitude are hurled?

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


 . If I Had Known

    IF I had known
    Two years ago how drear this life should be,
    And crowd upon itself allstrangely sad,
    Mayhap another song would burst from out my lips,
    Overflowing with the happiness of future hopes;
    Mayhap another throb than that of joy.
    Have stirred my soul into its inmost depths,
                If I had known.

    If I had known,
    Two years ago the impotence of love,
    The vainness of a kiss, how barren a caress,
    Mayhap my soul to higher things have soarn,
    Nor clung to earthly loves and tender dreams,
    But ever up aloft into the blue empyrean,
    And there to master all the world of mind,
                If I had known.

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


 . A Pliant

    DEAR God, 'tis hard, so awful hard to lose
    The one we love, and see him go afar,
    With scarce one thought of aching hearts behind,
    Nor wistful eyes, nor outstretched yearning hands.
    Chide not, dear God, if surging thoughts arise.
    And bitter questionings of love and fate,
    But rather give my weary heart thy rest,
    And turn the sad, dark memories into sweet.
    Dear God, I fain my loved one were anear,
    But since thou will'st that happy thence he'll be,
    I send him forth, and back I'll choke the grief
    Rebellious rises in my lonely heart.
    I pray thee, God, my loved one joy to bring;
    I dare not hope that joy will be with me,
    But ah, dear God, one boon I crave of thee,
    That he shall ne'er forget his hours with me.

    Alice Ruth Moore (Alice Dunbar)


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