Selected Poems of Fitz Hugh Ludlow

Collected and annotated in 1995 by Dave Gross

This collection is certainly incomplete -- many of Ludlow's poems are not included -- and imperfect, as my resources, my patience, and my ability to read nineteenth century handwriting are all wanting. Furthermore, to paraphrase Star Trek, "I'm a computer scientist, Jim, not a poet" so some of the subtleties of poetic form and some of the literary references may have left me clueless. Letters, words & phrases in [brackets] are guesses prompted by indecipherable photocopies and bad handwriting, sometimes based on what the word looks like, or on what word might logically (due to rhyme structure or appearance elsewhere in the poem) appear; other times just a mish-mash of letters that resembled those in the original. I encourage others with better talents to take up where I left off and decipher the scribbling.

-- Dave Gross

Contents:

  • Song to Old Union
  • The Best School for Everybody
  • The Hymn of the Soul of Man
  • "Over his head the daisies swim..."
  • I Did Not Ask That I Might Have a Name
  • Too Late
  • Socrates Snooks
  • Truth on His Travels
  • Hymn of Forbearance
  • The First Death
  • The Voices of a Man's Soul
  • Battle Song to the Soldier of Life
  • The Jolly Fellow
  • A la dame à voile noire
  • Ode to Night
  • Glory and Fame
  • Lord Levynn's Love
  • "I will not wish thy life a tinted bubble..."
  • A Twilight-Dream
  • Serve God with the Best
  • A Fragment
  • To the Profile Rock at Niagara
  • Hymn to our Intercessor
  • FOOTNOTES
  • Song to Old Union[1]

    { source: Union College commencement pamphlet, 23 July 1856 }

    AIR -- "Sparkling and Bright."

    Let the Grecian dream of his sacred stream,
       And sing of the brave adorning,
    That Phoebus weaves from his laurel leaves
       At the golden gates of Morning[2];
    But the brook that bounds through Union's grounds
       Gleams bright as the Delphic water,
    And a prize as fair as a god may wear,
       Is a dip[3] from our Alma Mater!
    
    CHORUS
    Then here's to thee, the[4] brave and free,
       Old Union smiling o'er us;
    And for many a day, as thy walls grow gray,[5]
       May they ring with thy children's chorus.[6]
    
    Could our praises throng on the waves of song,
       Like an Orient fleet gem-bringing,[7]
    We would bear to thee the argosy,
       And crown thee with pearls of singing;
    But thy smile beams down beneath a crown
       Whose glory asks no other;
    We gather it not from the green sea-grot --
       'Tis the love we bear our mother!
    
    		CHORUS
    
    Let the joy that falls from thy dear old walls,
       Unchanged, brave Time's[8] on-darting,
    And our only tear falls[9] once a year
       On hands that clasp ere parting;
    And when other throngs shall sing thy[10] songs,
       And their spell once hath bound us,[11]
    Our faded hours shall revive their flowers,[12]
       And the Past[13] shall live around us.
    
    		CHORUS
    

    The Best School for Everybody[14]

    { source: mss. in Union College Schaffer Library of poem as copied from the notebook in 1915 by Helen Ludlow and sent to Alice Crosby, for whom the poem was originally written "probably in 1855" }

    Little girl, where[15] do you go to school,
       And when do you go, little girl?
    Over the grass from morn till night[16]
       Your feet are in a whirl;
    You and the cat jump here and there,
       You and the robins sing,
    But what do you know in the spelling-book,
       Have you ever learned anything?
    
    Thus the little girl answered
       With a voice like a leaping spring,[17]
    
    When morning's eyes are rosy
       With weeping tears of dew,[18]
    The[19] swallows waken in the eaves,
       And the lamb bleats to the ewe;
    When the lawns are golden-barred
       And the early wind is cool,[20]
    And[21] morning's breath blows out the stars
       Then do I go to school.
    
    My school-roof is the dimpled[22] sky,
       And the bells that call[23] me there
    Are all the voices of morning
       In the dew-besprinkled air;[24]
    Old Nature is the madam[25]
       And the book whereout I spell
    Is dog's eared[26] at the woods and streams[27]
       Where I know the lesson well.
    
    Thus the little girl answered
       In her musical out-door tone,[28]
    And[29] the next time that she goes to school
       She will not be alone.
    

    The Hymn of the Soul of Man

    { source: Wilkie, Franc Bangs Personal Reminiscences of Thirty-Five Years of Journalism Ch. IV, also: the Union Alumni Monthly Nov. 1937. But first published in the Union College "New Era" }

    We are not things of yesterday;
       Our souls' ancestral rivers run
    From fountains of antiquity[30]
       That gushed ere God lit up the sun.
    Across the solitudes of Time,
       No more by mortal footsteps trod,
    Where the dead nations sleep sublime,
       Come whispers of our source in God.
    
    The slumber of Humanity
       Is ever vexed by mighty dreams:
    She smiles or shudders ceasely,[31]
       According as the vision seems;
    For, ever[32] mingling in her sleep,
       Are glorious temples broken down,
    And gulfs, across whose awful deep
       She grasps at a primeval crown.
    
    And here and there among the years
       Some giant prophet lifts his hands,
    And pours his burden[33] in her ears,
       As Furus sweeps the ocean sands.
    Such was the voice that shook the world
       From out Academia's trees,
    And such the lightning that was hurled
       From thy blind eyes, Maconides!
    
    Unconscious prophets though they be,
       Seers meaning more than they have known,
    And dreaming not that Deity
       Was speaking though them from His throne,
    Their word[34] shall like the sea-waves roll,
       Their burning thoughts shall never die,
    Till man awakes his sleeping soul
       To know its immortality.
    
    Arise to deeds of great intent,
       O man! and[35] with thy valiant hands
    Rear heaven-high[36] a monument
       Whose shadows[37] shall reach other lands.
    The glories of a noble strife
       Survive the pulses of endeavor,
    The echoes of a mighty life
       Ring through Time's corridors forever.[38]
    

    "Over his head the daisies swim..."

    { source: Helen Ludlow's notebook }

    Over his head the daisies swim
       In wind-swept eddies of sea-green grass
    He hath rest in every limb,
       Nothing more can come to pass
          Which hath aught in it for him
             To weary or harrass.
    
    He was not a saint on earth
       Nor wished he in heaven a saint to be
    [If?] a single Chair at the father's hearth
       Must go empty for all eternity
    "I have been a friend to want and dearth
       Without them I will not be saved!" said he.
    
    He had lived & loved & lost, that's all --
       And the joy which [missed?] him seemed so dear
    That he could not believe it was [under?] the call
       And the angels say "He hath found it here."
    In the depths of the night he heard them call
       His soul to its Golden Year.
    

    "I Did Not Ask That I Might Have a Name"

    { source: Helen Ludlow's notebook }

    I did not ask that I might have a name
       To sound forever like a wind-lashed sea,
    I sought no glory bursting like a flame
       Upon humanity
    
    In days gone by the shadow of a crown
       Hung over me & wooed me to be great --
    I sought the sunshine that I might lay down
       Its visionary weight
    
    I bent my forehead coldly from the kiss
       Of fair cajoling Fortune, braving out
    Her threat of stranded destiny & bliss
       Wrecked if she turned about
    
    My God, Thou knowest it was not with these
       I spent my labor or laid up my trust
    Nor ever stretched my eager hand to seize
       Their heaps of withered dust!
    
    No! all I asked was somewhere in the world
       To love & be repaid with love: as deep
    Ere out of Life's small day light I was hurled
       Into forgotten sleep
    
    Ah, few men with a burden like my own
       Have ever vexed their prayers through nights untold
    Deeming it little to be loved alone
       While Life hath pomp & gold!
    
    Was it that I implored so small a boon
       That my prayer floated back as clouds of even
    Drift from the icy barriers of the moon
       Too light to enter Heaven?
    
    Or did I in my daring ask a thing
       So mighty that it challenged God to mark
    Me as one thenceforth doomed to wandering
       Forever in the dark?
    
    I am not answered.  It were better so;
       He who without a lamp sits through the night
    Seeth no better that his soul doth know
       Wherefore he hath no light.
    
    Oh how in yearning have I[39] spent my time,
       Wasting unto the socket heart & strength
    While the years rounded like a shallow rhyme
       Their slow unfruitful length.
    
    I stand as one who from a dungeon dream
       Of open air and the free arch of stars
    Waking to things that be from things that seem
       Beats madly on the bars.
    
    I am not yet quite used to be aware
       That all my labor & my hope had birth
    Only to freeze me with the coffined share[40]
       Of void & soulless earth.
    
    Yet soon I shall be vexed with no more thought,
       If all of good for which I wished can burst
    Like a chilled bubble, I too may be nought
       And I have known the worst.
    

    Too Late

    {source: Harper's New Monthly Magazine June 1869}

    "Ah! si la jeunesse savait -- si la vieillesse pouvait!"

    There sat an old man on a rock,
        And unceasing bewailed him of Fate --
    That concern where we all must take stock,
       Though our vote has no bearing nor weight;
           And the old man sang him an old, old song --
           Never sang voice so clear and strong
           That it could drown the old man's[41] long,
              For he sang the song "Too late! Too late!"
    
    "When we want, we have for our pains
         The promise that if we but wait
    Till the want has burned out of our brains
        Every means shall be present to sate[42];
           While we send for the napkin the soup gets cold,
           While the bonnet is trimming the face grows old,
           When we've matched our buttons the pattern is sold,
              And every thing[43] comes too late -- too late!
    
    "When strawberries seemed like red heavens --
        Terrapin stew a wild dream --
    When my brain was at sixes and sevens
        If my mother had `folks' and ice-cream,
           Then I gazed with a lickerish hunger
           At the restaurant man and fruit-monger --
           But oh! how I wished I were younger
              When the goodies all came in a stream -- in a stream!
    
    "I've a splendid blood horse, and a liver
        That it jars into torture to trot;
    My row-boat's the gem of the river --
        Gout makes every knuckle a knot!
           I can buy boundless credits on Paris and Rome,
           But no palate for ménus -- no eyes for a dome --
           Those belonged to the youth who must tarry at home
              When no home but an attic he'd got -- he'd got.
    
    "How I longed in that lonest of garrets,
        Where the tiles baked my brains all July,
    For ground to grow two pecks of carrots,
        Two pigs of my own in a sty,
           A rose-bush -- a little thatched cottage --
           Two spoons -- love -- a basin of pottage:
           Now in freestone I sit -- and my dotage --
              With a woman's chair empty close by -- close by!
    
    "Ah! now, though I sit on a rock,
        I have shared one seat with the Great[44];
    I have sat, knowing naught of the clock,
        On Love's[45] high throne of state;
           But the lips that kissed and the arms that caressed
           To a mouth grown stern with delay were pressed,
           And circled a breast that their clasp had blessed
              Had they only not come too late! too late!"
    

    Socrates Snooks

    { source: The Best Loved Poems of the American People, selected by Hazel Felleman }

    Mister Socrates Snooks, a lord of creation,
    The second time entered the married relation:
    Xantippe Caloric accepted his hand,
    And they thought him the happiest man in the land.
    But scarce had the honeymoon passed o'er his head,
    When one morning to Xantippe Socrates said:
    "I think, for a man of my standing in life,
    This house is too small, as I now have a wife;
    So, as early as possible, carpenter Carey
    Shall be sent for to widen my house and my dairy."
    
    "Now, Socrates, dearest," Xantippe replied,
    "I hate to hear everything vulgarly my'd;
    Now, whenever you speak of your chattels again,
    Say, our cowhouse, our barnyard, our pigpen."
    "By your leave, Mrs. Snooks, I will say what I please
    Of my houses, my lands, my gardens, my trees."
    "Say our," Xantippe exclaimed in a rage.
    "I won't, Mrs. Snooks, though you ask it an age!"
    
    Oh, woman! though only a part of man's rib,
    If the story in Genesis don't tell a fib,
    Should your naughty companion e'er quarrel with you,
    You are certain to prove the best man of the two.
    In the following case this was certainly true;
    For the lovely Xantippe just pulled off her shoe,
    And laying about her, all sides at random,
    The adage was verified -- "Nil desperandum."
    
    Mister Socrates Snooks, after trying in vain,
    To ward off the blows which descended like rain --
    Concluding that valor's best part was discretion --
    Crept under the bed like a terrified Hessian;
    But the dauntless Xantippe, not one whit afraid,
    Converted the siege into a blockade.
    
    At last, after reasoning the thing in his pate,
    He concluded `twas useless to strive against fate:
    And, so, like a tortoise protruding his head,
    Said, "My dear, may we come out from under our bed?"
    "Ha! ha!" she exclaimed, "Mr. Socrates Snooks,
    I perceive you agree to my terms by your looks;
    Now, Socrates -- hear me -- from this happy hour,
    If you'll only obey me, I'll never look sour."
    
    `Tis said the next Sabbeth, ere going to church,
    He chanced for a clean pair of trousers to search;
    Having found them, he asked, with a few nervous twitches,
    "My dear, may we put on our new Sunday breeches?"
    

    Truth on His Travels

    {source: the College Hill Mercury 30 Dec. 1850, pp. 90-91 }

    Truth, tired of lying hidden,
       In volumes old and musty,
    To rise from the dust forbidden,
       In the brain of Doctor Rusty;
    Determined no longer to lie in check,
       Chained down by an old opinion,
    Which for numberless years had galled his neck,
       And made him the sage's minion --
    With one strong effort his fetters he broke,
       Determining to rebel;
    And with one more vigorous masterly stroke,
       He burst from his dingy cell.
    Crying out in exultation --
       "With healing in my wings,
    I will visit every nation --
       I'll reveal myself to Kings.
    Each mighty potentate on earth,
       Shall feel my power to bless,
    And I will hail the heaven-sprung birth
       Of the rule of righteousness."
    Thus speaking he wended his airy way,
       To the seven-hilled city of Rome;
    For there he heard Dr. Rusty say
       Was the arts' and sciences' home.
    So darting down swift as the glance of an axe,
       It chanced that "Willy Nilly" --
    He lit in a pack of Italian tracts
       Belonging to Dr. Achilli,
    Which were slowly and quietly going along
       On the back of a Roman mule,
    To the cadence low of the driver's song,
       Which he hummed in the evening cool.
    "Aha," cried Truth, and he gaily laughed
       As he curled himself snugly in,
    "I am now in my element, fore and aft,
       In truthfulness up to the chin.
    I shall teach to admiring thousands
       These themes that these volumns discuss --
    The doctrines of Wickliffe and Luther,
       Of Cramer, Melanchton and Huss."
    But without his host did he reckon,
       For the Gen d' Armes shook every fibre --
    They threw Doctor Achille in prison,
       And Truth and his tracts in the Tiber.
    But he scrabbled ashore as well as he could,
       With his wings all draggled and dripping,
    And sat sorrowfully down on an old log of wood,
       Like a boy that had got a whipping.
    But shaking at length like a Newfoundland dog --
       He managed his pinions to dry,
    And taking a leap from the side of the log,
       Soared upward -- was lost in the sky.
    He went to old England, and called for repeal
       Of the taxes -- those terrible bores
    Which force men to pay for each pleasure they feel,
       For their sorrows, and sicknesses, and sores;
    For their windows, and doors, and each cutlet of veal
       Which take from the widow her last pint of meal;
    But John Bull liked his conscience to rest in repose
       So he lifted his toes,
    (The ones afflicted by gout, we suppose,)
       And gently kicked Truth out of doors.
    Then he crossed the straits of Dover
       To visit sunny France,
    And there Right Reason was all over
       The colleague God of Chance;
    And he tried to teach the Sans-Culottes
       To serve the King of Kings,
    But they stared as if they had been shot,
       At such monarchic things;
    And Monsieur Tonson shook his head
       With look of dreadful meaning,
    And hinted of the dreamless bed
       That followed Guillotining.
    Then Truth exclaimed, "There's no place here
       Where the sole of my foot may rest,
    I'll take my flight for the hemisphere
       That lieth away in the west,
    Where the setting sun mirrors his blazing front
       On a people true and brave,
    As the courser's foot in the forest hunt,
       On Oceans' restless wave,
    When he throweth the glare of his burn-eye
       On a nation bold and free,
    And looketh down from his home in the skies,
       On a land of liberty.
    So with all these magnificent thoughts in his head,
       He landed at half-past nine
    In a city not a thousand miles
       From "Mason & Dixon's line."
    But the passing throng in the busy street
       Gave no heed to the stranger Truth,
    Save some whiskered dandies he chanced to meet,
       Who said it was a pity forsooth,
    That a vagrant like him should be strolling about
       Without the policeman's detection,
    And declared in full terms that they thought that the lout
       Should be sent to the house of correction.
    

    * * * * * * *

    Cetera desint.


    Hymn of Forbearance[46]

    { source: Carpenter, Frank B. "In Memoriam: Fitz Hugh Ludlow, as He Was Known by a Friend." The Evening Mail Dec ? 1870 }

    O living were a bitter thing,
       A riddle without reasons,
    If each sat lonely, gathering
    Within his[47] own heart's narrow ring
    The hopes and fears encumbering
       The flight of earthly seasons.
    
    Thank God that in Life's little day,
       Between our dawn and setting,
    We have kind deeds to give away,
    Sad hearts for which our own may pray
    And strength when we are wronged to stay,
       Forgiving and forgetting.
    
    Thank God for other feet that be
       By ours in Life's wayfaring --
    For blessed Christian charity,
       Believing good she cannot see,
    Suffering[48] her friends' infirmity,
       Enduring and forbearing.
    
    We all are travellers, who throng
       A thorny road together,
    And if some pilgrim not so strong
    As I, but foot-sore[49], does me wrong,
    I'll[50] make excuse, the road is long,
       And stormy is the weather.
    
    What comfort will it yield the day
       Whose light shall find us dying,
    To know that once we had our way
    Against a child of weaker clay,
    And bought our triumph in the fray,
       With purchase of his sighing?
    
    { Oh, who, when Life to many souls
       So little hath to cheer it,
    Will cover up his kindly coals
    In ashes, hoard the slender doles
    Which to the shipwrecked on Earth's shoals
       Might still so much endear it? }[51]
    
    Most like our Lord are they who bear,
       Like him, long with the sinning;
    The music of long suffering prayer
    Brings angels down God's golden stair,
    Like those through Olivet's darkened air,
       Who saw our life beginning.[52]
    

    The First Death[53]

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    Not on the fiery breast of fight,
    Down trampled in an army's flight;
    Not where God's vengeful angel stood
    O'er the plague smitten multitude;
    Not in the thirsty caravan
    Where man dies by his brother man,
    Did he deliver up his breath
    Who first stood face to face with Death
    Oh tis an easy thing to die
    When with the soul's departing sigh
    There mingles through the ether wide
    The throb of many [an?] heart beside,
    And sounds of pulsing spirit-wings
    Blend with our own life's rending strings
    Oh who has not prayed fervently
    That he might die when others die,
    And shrink with many a bitter groan
    From trying the untried alone?
    The terrors of that chartless sea
    Fade when we voyage in company
    But not to him [such?] boon was given
    Who first among the sons of men
    Felt Life's colossal columns riven
    By pangs undreamed of until then;
    Abruptly closed his path of years
    Upon a precipice of fears
    Whose dizzy wall sank glazed & steep
    Into an unimagined deep,
    And he beheld himself alone
    The pioneer of the Unknown!
    Horror unfathomed, undefined
    Like a [dark?] midnight atmosphere
    Grew solid round his shaken mind
    As neither to his intense ear
    Came any pulses of a wing
    The void beneath him unmoving
    Nor quickened by extreme distress
    His eye could sound the Visionless
    Pausing upon that dreadful brink
    With thoughts which no man else may think,
    He sate him down to gather strength
    For the inevitable leap,
    That leap of mystery & length,
    With eyes that saw yet could not weep,
    Though they beheld the sundering tie
    Of life's most precious sanctities.
    Silent the first of dying men
    Sate self-[coumceeming?]; breaking then
    From the chill bands of his despair
    He poured on the unechoing air
    His strong, his last, his bitter prayer
    "My God, thou who of old has been
    the Everlasting, the Unseen
    All Powerful, All surrounding One,
    Father to me of life begun,
    Onmover of its vanished years
    See how unpenetrable fears
    Hang on the front of coming Time
    (if aught of time to come there be)
    And if the Past be all of me
    Through what of horror shall I climb
    Down to unknown obscurity,
    Or shall I leap from Life's excess
    At once to voiceless nothingness?
    Oh leave me not unanswered, thou
    Who hast upheld me until now!
    I was, I am, Oh God from thee,
    Tell me, is future life for me?["]
    He ceased, & silence as he stood
    Seemed carven in his attitude,
    The very air grew still & dense
    As it were awed by his suspense,
    For he whose eyes Death first made dark
    Waited for God's immortal mark!
    The sun in sinking glory stood
    On the horizon's solitude,
    And from his disk a cloud wind-driven
    Past up into the deeps of Heaven,
    Leaving the speldors to beam down
    Unmantled from his burning crown
    Then on the watcher's silent soul
    A voice like evening shadows stole:
    "Like thee, the sun stands on the verge
    Of his extremest monarchy,
    As over thee, night vapors surge
    Above his parting majesty;
    They pass -- but lo, behold, thy sign
    Is written on his orb divine.
    Be that which thou from him shalt see
    Thy Life's sublimest prophesy."
    He looked & from that sinking sphere
    A glory glimmered through his fear,
    For every [osier?] by the river,
    And every rock that stands forever,
    And all things that on earth there be
    Seemed bathed in dews of prophesy
    Not westward where the sun still lingers
    Those prophets point their shadowy fingers,
    But backward to the Eastern sky
    Made dark by Day's abandonment,
    Point all the shadows silently,
    As if in calm presentiment
    Of glories to again be born
    Through that closed portal of the morn.
    Then floated that small voice again
    Down to the first of dying men,
    "God brings again the light, shall He
    Uplift the sun, forgetting thee?["]
    Down from his spirit's inner walls
    The horror of great darkness falls;
    At once the veil of doubt & [sense?]
    Glides off, for what he hopes to see
    Becomes the real, [so?] far hence
    He knows his Immortality!
    

    The Voices of a Man's Soul

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    There is many a harp whose strings to nearly broken
       Swing idly in the wind;
    Touch them thou skillful hand, [but the, no?] token
       Of days left far behind.
    Comes at thy challenge from the moveless deep,
    Where the forgotten dead of music sleep
    
    There is a quiet voice which says "Forever,"
       When a star falls from Heaven;
    And so we know that Earth's quenched [torches?] never
       Again light up the even
    But when a man is old their brands are shown
    In black cold heaps where he must die alone.
    
    What is the fairest face that glows like morning?
       A skull with maskings on!
    Death strips the conquered knight of his adorning.
       And lo -- a skeleton!
    The hope is dead that was thy soul's young bride!
    [?] not -- thou soon shalt slumber at her side.
    
    When these poor temporary tents are [folden?]
       We are not shelterless
    Ours is a city out of [sight?] and golden
       Where in dwells righteous ness
    And though our fallen stars rekindle never
    We have a sun whose glowing is forever.
    

    Battle Song to the Soldier of Life

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    Thou whose light is slowly waning
    With no heart to hold thine own
    Know the might of uncomplaining
    Stout endurance all alone!
    
    Up! And be a slave no longer
    Dare to speak the word "I can!"
    Love is strong but souls are stronger
       And the giant [will?] of man.
    
    Up! and fight for day is fleeting,
       He who sleeps and shuns his part,
    Lives but in the languid beating
       Of a [chill?] and coward heart.
    
    Though the Soul [is?] intensest yearning
       Lash thy bosom like a sea.
    Godlike joys shall come in learning
       That thou hast the mastery.
    
    Golden images of Beauty
       Lure thee to the dreaming Past
    But though Death march on with Duty
       Be thy soul's Iconoclast.
    
    From the Heart's enshrining inches,
       From the pomp of gold and gem,
    Hurl the statues, though the riches
       Of a life go down with them.
    
    Shapes impossible but cherished
       Mighty joys that cannot be
    Perish all, as aye have perished
       Those which had reality.
    
    Thus shalt [th?] lay down thine hammer,
       Wipe thy brow and rest in peace,
    And the trumpet-din and clamor
       Of embattled passions cease.
    
    Strong to the deed that makes thee glorious
       [Who?] for thee thy burial mound
    E'en thy death shall be victorious
       And thy head shall slumber crowned.
    

    The Jolly Fellow

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    There was a jolly fellow who lived about the town,
    He disapproved of [toddy?] and so he put it down;
    He attended public dinners for [fire?] and freedom's sake,
    And like a second [Polyearp?], went smiling to the steak.
    
    His vests were irreproachable, his trowsers of the kind
    Adown whose steep declivities hound [rushes] after kind.
    They were a speaking pattern, all the tailors would agree,
    But, oh, alas, they were too bright to speak coherently
    
    Up half a dozen pair of stairs our hero went to bed
    With nothing but the angels and the rafters o'er his head
    And so, although he loved to be where brandy vapor curled
    There never was a man who lived so much [alive?] the world
    
    No boards of all the roof were known a meeting e'er to hold
    And so the room was nothing but a trap for catching cold.
    There was a door, the carpenter had left the lock behind
    It must have slipped him as he had no Locks upon his mind.
    
    No dome was there, no window stained with Peter & the Keys
    But every winter brought a great [redundancy?] of frieze;
    Each [?ph lash?] groaned dolefully as [?] it felt the pain
    By some unearthly grammarye, a coming back again
    
    Well ceiled were all the rooms below though that's another story
    But now our hero's fate was ceiled & not his dormatory;
    When midnight played upon his bones and far from operatic
    What wonder that an `attic'-room should make a man room-attic!
    
    Our hero's uncle had to dye to keep himself alive
    His shop was down in Chatham St. at no. 35 --
    But when, as every dyer must, he felt his color fail
    Before he kicked the bucket, he turned a little pale
    
    He called his nephew to his side, & with a mournful [mien?]
    Said "I feel blue to leave you, you musn't think it green,
    I've not gained much by dying, but I leave you all my [pelf?]
    It may assist you if you ever want to dye yourself.["]
    
    His spirit fled, and left the youth to woe & [Byron?] collars
    As dolorous as any man who has a heap of dollars
    But, "Oh," said he, Let others dye, they're fools enough I [know?]
    For though the colors may be fast, the trade is very slow.
    
    "I'll cut the man who cuts my hair & [these?] the thing [as?] plain
    That I shall be, beyond a doubt, a lion in the mane;
    I'll buy myself a pair of [bays?] as early as I can
    For I've [often?] heard my uncle say that life is but a span."
    
    But oh, twas vain to try to change the color of his days
    For he could not conceal himself behind his [screen?] of bays
    [No? yarn?] of all that he could [spin?] could hide his uncle; line
    For that worthy was not one of those who dye & give no sign.
    
    And many who had been his uncle's customers of yore
    Thought perchance the youth was not behind what he had been before
    Daily stopped his gay [barouche?] to promise patronage [enough?]
    And thought their fancy fabricated when he muttered "Stuff!"
    
    His dandy friends grew fewer, and alas, he found between
    Their learning and their falling off no summer intervene.
    His heart was broken, and at last this fanciest of blades
    Who used to flare in scarlet vests preferred the darker shades
    
    One morning from a frowning cliff he jumped into the sea
    Crying "Oh thou mighty dying vat, behold I come to thee;"
    You think him green, but as to that I really cannot tell.
    Yet if he is, it is the kind they call [irisable?]
    

    A la dame à voile noire

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    As [night?] the rosy bosomed hills unfolding
       Softens their traces in his wierd embrace;
    So, more ethereal grew the matchless moulding
       Of thy pure earnest spiritual face,
          Most pensive maid,
          Beneath the shade
    Of that strange veil of melancholy lace.
    
    Art thou an abbess, gliding from the chancel
       Where [Eloisa?] poured her soul and prayed;
    Unshrouded and revivified to cancel
       Some debt of Christian charity unpaid.
          In years agone,
          When the midnight lone
    Of Death's cold angel made thy heart afraid?
    
    Perchance thou'st but a type of Death's own essence,
       Unearthly beauty whose dark borderings
    Turn men's hearts chill with horror at his presence
       And make them slaves who timely shall be kings
          But if a heavenly gale
          Lifts up the veil,
    Straightway they're ravished with Death's inner things.
    
    Perhpas thou art a beautiful temptation,
       [Some?] mystic bodiment of deadly sin,
    Like her who in the veil of consecration
       Mixed with the orisons of the Capuchin,
          [And?] nightly wooing
          To his undoing
    Till to his lost soul Satan entered in.
    
    Thou art too beautiful, I'll look no longer
       For be thou woman, [?] or sprite,
    [A skill is sinking?] over me that; [stronger?]
       Than silence in the watches of the night,
          For good or evil
          From saint or devil
    I dare not lift my eyes to read aright.
    

    Ode to Night

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    Oh Lovely Mother Night,
       Thy breath is cool
    And on my fevered brow
       I feel it now
    Like angel's [hand?] dipped in Bethesda's pool.
    
    Oh Lovely Mother Night,
       List to my lay;
    Thy fore head is more bright
       With gems of light
    Than all the splendors of the [step-damn?] Day
    
    Not with the dust and din
       Of feverish strife
    Dost thou Oh Night draw near;
       Thy voice is dear
    Because it whispers of a better life.
    
    Oh Lovely Mother Night,
       Like tired sheep
    Within thy star watched fold
       The young and old
    The strong and weary shall lie down to sleep
    
    Wrapt in his [semak?] robes,
       The sage shall dream;
    The maiden shall forget
       The river let,
    And [Plato ?] no more of Academe
    
    And Oh how sweet & [still?]
       That rest shall be,
    Beneath the shadowy pall
       That broods o'er all
    Expanding into immortality
    

    Glory & Fame

    { Dedicated to F.H.L. }

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    In Life's ever humid marches,
       Passion going in the van
    Leads us under broken arches,
       Ruins of the hopes of Man;
    
    Once where rose the stately column
       Sculptured frieze & architrave,
    Silence reigns alone & solemn
       O'er the nameless builder's grave.
    
    Shaft & Pyramid external
       Felt their evanescent art,
    But they knew not what eternal
       Monuments are in the Heart!
    
    Sleep relaxed the builders' fingers
       Ere the top-stone crowned their name,
    And where Desolation lingers
       Dreamed they in the arms of Fame.
    
    Fame is Glory's shadow falling
       On a whirlpool of the sea,
    From whose waves are voices calling
       Man to Glory's ecstasy.
    
    Listen to their lying story
       And thou art in Death's embrace;
    From thy prow away & Glory
       As thou goest bathes thy face!
    
    Where the trumpet ne'er hath sounded
       Where the nations look not on,
    By no echoing peaks surrounded,
       Thou mayst win a Marathon!
    
    Thou shalt see a glory gleaming
       From the smitten shield of Fate,
    Trust to God the outward seeming
       Only to thyself be great.
    
    He who bears with calm reliance
       [Alls?] he knows & God alone,
    Throws the gauntlet of defiance
       In thy face Oblivion!
    

    Lord Levynn's Love

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    "The winds & I are all at east
       And the ancient clock hath rung
    His peal of twelve on the midnight breeze
       From his heavy brazen tongue;
    The ghosts & I must walk tonight
       Although it be hand in hand,
    To me there was never a shape of fright
       That came from the Shadowy Land!"
    
    Thus spake the Lord of Levynn Park
       And the mist bedewed his beard,
    And the roof of Heaven was fearful dark
       But never the Knight had feared;
    So he girt his broad-sword to his side
       And wandered to & fro,
    Like the ebb & flow of a restless tide
       Or as midnight spirits go.
    
    He had come from the wars of the Holy Grave
       Where a sea of spearmen moved
    His steel was true & his heart was brave
       But never the Knight had loved;
    And now as he passed through the corridor
       By the mullions old & dim,
    In the castle vaults beneath the floors
       Lay all that had cared for him.
    
    Tramp, tramp as he strode along
       With a soul that is all unrest
    His heart's heavy pulses beat as strong
       As though they would burst his breast
    And he sharply feels though he knows not why
       And he never hath felt before
    How bitter it is for a man to die
       Alone on his native shore!
    
    He hath been in the thickest of the fray
       When the Saracen's blood hath gushed
    Like the Jordan's flood of a stormy day
       Wherever his Legion rushed;
    The suns of Judea have burned his brow,
       While a hundred passions strove
    For the mastery of his soul, but now
       He knows he hath banished love!
    
    His armor clangs in his midnight march
       And he hears its sound along,
    But why does he gaze at yonder arch
       And its buttress of grim grey stone?
    "Ha ha, it is not a ghost," cries he
       "But the moon hath cast a gleam
    Through a rent in her cloudy tapestry
       Athwart you carven beam."
    
    But the something which he sees draws near
       And it cannot be the moon,
    Does he dream or is it a thing of fear
       That a word shall banish soon?
    No moon, nor ghost nor dream is there,
       But a maiden whose brow is cool,
    With a halo around her golden hair
       And her presence is beautiful.
    
    "Who art thou, lady of lovely mien
       With thy eyes of grammarye
    And thy circled brow that speaks the queen,
       I pray thee answer me!"
    "Oh Knight of the lurid [lion?] crest
       Of the spotless spear & shield
    I give thee a love that never the breast
       Of woman on earth may yield.
    
    "Thou art walking the night of Life alone
       As thou hast walked this night
    I have come to claim thee for my own
       Lord Levynn, thou art my right!
    No more shalt thou be ill at ease
       Though the night-winds will not sleep
    Ere morning [solaut?] shines through the trees,
       Thy peace with me shall be deep."
    
    His helmed head is on her breast
       Her arms entwine him round,
    And he seems to hear as he lies in rest
       Unearthly music sound;
    And when the cool arch of the morning heaven
       Hears the reveille clarion,
    The pages have found the Lord of Levynn?
       Dead with his armor on.
    

    "I will not wish thy life a tinted bubble..."

    Written in the Album of Phebe Van S. Troy.

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    I will not wish thy life a tinted bubble
       Floating forever on an unvexed sea;
    I will not prophesy thee skies whose trouble
       Like [sun sweet?] morning clouds shall quickly flee
    Life hath great triumphs in its darkest seasons
       For [?] who makes black Heavens shed rains of peace
    And he who bears the facts & waits the reasons
       Finds dew upon his solitary fleece.
    
    Oh be it mine in life's still varying tissue,
       To see God's presence like a golden strand
    Brighten it ever till its [?] shall issue
       Out of the loom into the weaver's hand;
    May Heaven in kindness grant thee little sorrow,
       But be Earth's change feel pageant as they [may?],
    Look through the gates of the Eternal Morrow
       For there awaits thee an unclouded day.
    

    A Twilight-Dream

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    Since I was weary of the Day
       And weary was the day of me,
    As o'er the hills it crept away
       We gladly parted company.
    
    The mingled voices of the town
       Like strains of a departing band
    Grew fainter till they trembled down
       Nor came again from slumber-land
    
    The twilight shadows made me dream
       That I was in the Past again,
    For up the waters of the stream
       That never may flow back for [man?]
    
    Those arms that ne'er shall clasp me more
       Were thrown around me tenderly
    And I heard footfalls on the floor
       That may not come again to me.
    
    But sadly did those arms unfold,
       And sadly passed those feet away,
    And suddenly my heart grew cold
       Returning to the present day.
    
    Then down I sat with moveless eye
       Like a wrecked sailor on a dock,
    Forever gazing fixedly
       To pierce the cold horizon's lock.
    
    I [saw?] red banners lifted high
       And smitten shields that rang again,
    I heard the foot of Fate go by
       To beat the doors of other men;
    
    The voice of all Humanity
       Was tremulous upon my ears,
    I heard the sighing of the sea
       That swallows up the dying years.
    
    But sight and voices slipped away
       From the cold channel-ways of sense
    For the long shadows of a day
       Gone by, lay o'er me dark & dense.
    
    As thus I sat here seemed to blend
       With the fixed sadness of my dream,
    A face so sweet that it might lend
       More brightness to the morning beam.
    
    With foot more light than music's swell,
       A fair young girl before me stood
    Making the air grow palpable
       With light & love & womanhood.
    
    The smile that lit her eyes of dew
       Fell on me through the mists of sleep,
    Like a chance sunbeam shooting through
       The loophole of a [mined?] keep.
    
    Her very beauty broke my dream,
       I woke & night was in the sky,
    But through my heart there flowed a stream
       Of peace that never shall be dry.
    
    For after many days of pain
       I learned at last the only balm
    For those whose Past comes not again
       Is present love & trustful Calm.
    

    Serve God with the Best

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    God's bounties fill the hand of thrift,
       Yet we with garners stored
    Forget the Giver in the gift,
       Nor well requite the Lord,
    But we whose strivings he hath blest
    Should serve him ever with the best.
    
    When Plenty sets her golden seals
       Where Labor's hand hath been,
    When the last harvest-burdened wheels
       Have brought their blessing in,
    Let the first fruits of increase won
    Be His who gave the rain & sun,
    
    When Morn unlocks his rosy door
       Earth teems with stillness sweet,
    Before her paths are [printed?] o'er
       With hurrying human feet;
    Give God this opening bud of [time?]
    And praise Him in the morning's prime.
    
    Give God thy manhood's earliest part
       Nor yield him [Ma?lessly]
    The last sad gleamings of a heart
       Reaped by his enemy;
    Shall he behold thee grey in sin
    Who died in youth thy soul to win?
    

    A Fragment[54]

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    The Present hath an [amoranthmic?] glory
       Whose orb its few its great alone may wear
    The Past is like a dream-enchanted story
       Of shapes seen kingly through a rosy air;
    And if we have not here our crowns by climbing
       Time's golden shadow wraps us as we wait,
    For the knell of all the Dead blends with the chiming
       Of Today's bells of triumph for her great.
    The Dead are one -- their Past a mount of wonder
       Whose less & loftier pearls grand height makes one
    And they all echo with one deathless thunder,
       And all drink glory from one quenchless sun;
    There is an awful grandeur in the solemn
       Reality of having passed away
    From Earth, God knoweth whither, that the column
       Of Present Triumph giveth not to clay
    'Tis well we thus are made that God hath folden
       The past to us in sublime sanctity,
    Teaching us in the Present that the Olden
       Time is but what we our own selves shall be,
    And if a bye-gone soul hath worth so golden
       How dread a trust is living stewardry!
    

    To the Profile Rock at Niagara[55]

    {source: The Hasheesh Eater (1857)}

    Niagara! I am not one who seeks
       To lift his voice above thine[56] awful hymn;
    Mine be it to keep silence where[57] God speaks,
       Nor with my praise to make his glory[58] dim.
    
    Yet unto thee, shape of the stony brow,
       Standing forever in thine unshared place,
    The human soul within me yearneth[59] now,
       And I would lay my head beside thy face
    
    King, from dim ages of God set apart
       To bear the weight of a tremendous crown,
    And feel the robes that wrap thy lonely heart
       Deaden its pulses as their folds flow down;
    
    What sublime years are written on the scroll
       Of thine imperial, dread inheritance,
    Man shall not read until its lines unroll
       In the great hand that set thy stony trance.
    
    Perchance thy moveless adamantine look
       For its long watch o'er the abyss was bent
    Ere the thick gates of primal darkness shook,
       And light broke in upon thy battlement.
    
    And when that sudden glory lit thy crown,
       And God lent thee a rainbow from His[60] throne,
    E'en through thy stony breast flashed there not down
       Somewhat of His joy also made thine own?
    
    Who knoweth but He gave thee to rejoice
       Till man's hymn sounded through the time to be,
    And when our choral coming hushed thy voice,
       Still left thee something of humanity?[61]
    
    Still seemest thou a priest -- still the veil streams
       Before thy reverent eyes, and hides[62] His light,
    And thine is as the face of one who dreams
       Of a great glory now no more his[63] right.
    
    Soon shall I pass away; the mighty psalm
       Of thine o'ershadowing waters shall be heard
    In memory only; but thy speechless calm
       Hath lessons for me more than many a word,
    
    Teaching the glory of the soul that bears
       Great floods, a veil between him and the sun,
    And, standing in the might of Patience,[64] dares
       To bide His[65] finishing who hath begun.
    

    Hymn to Our Intercessor[66]

    {source: Helen Ludlow's notebook}

    Not from thine incommunicable glory
       Wherein, Oh God, thou [sat it?] in might eterne
    Years numberless before the mountains hoary,
       [?ineth?] the lesson our weak souls may learn;
    Like snow we melt away in our on gazing
       The weak, & stained before the Strong & Good,
    And the faint voice of our presumpuous praising
       Dieth away in Thine infinitude.
    
    Our hymns & tears by earthly wind updriven
       Float back from viewless barriers in the sky
    Nor are the battlements celestial riven
       To let in unto thee our earnest cry;
    Through Christ Thy Son our earnest souls come `only
       And stand untrembling in the might of trust
    At the [clear?] gates wherein abideth lonely
       Glory uncsullied though enshrined [in?] dust.
    
    Here, meekly here, our deep unworth confessing
       Even to touch the walls thou dwellest in,
    We having nought of thee the All-possessing
       Ask for that wealth thy poverty did win,
    Ask for the rest thy brow of thorns did gain us
       Without a pillow for its weariness,
    Ask for that washing from the spots that stain us
       Which thy sore wounds found not in their distress.
    
    Thou who hast felt the pains of Godhead rending
       Thy fleshly tent on midnight mountains bleak
    Knowest, above our sleep-locked eyelids bending
       The spirit willing though the flesh be weak;
    Breathe thy might into us, make our souls earnest
       Whether it be to labor or to weep
    Till noiseless at the sundown Thou returnest
       And gently givest thy beloved sleep.
    

    FOOTNOTES:

    This hypertext version of the selected poems of Fitz Hugh Ludlow is copyright © 1995 by Dave Gross.



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