Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
468. Melodies and Catches
By Richard Henry Stoddard

    HOW are songs begot and bred?
    How do golden measures flow?
    From the heart, or from the head?
    Happy Poet, let me know.
    Tell me first how folded flowers        5
    Bud and bloom in vernal bowers;
    How the south wind shapes its tune,
      The harper, he, of June.
    None may answer, none may know,
    Winds and flowers come and go,        10
    And the selfsame canons bind
    Nature and the Poet’s mind.

THROUGH the night, through the night,
  In the saddest unrest,
Wrapt in white, all in white,        15
  With her babe on her breast,
Walks the mother so pale,
Staring out on the gale,
  Through the night.
Through the night, through the night,        20
  Where the sea lifts the wreck,
Land in sight, close in sight,
  On the surf-flooded deck,
Stands the father so brave,
Driving on to his grave,        25
  Through the night.

BIRDS are singing round my window,
  Tunes the sweetest ever heard,
And I hang my cage there daily,
  But I never catch a bird.        30
So with thoughts my brain is peopled,
  And they sing there all day long:
But they will not fold their pinions
  In the little cage of Song!

THE SKY is a drinking-cup,
  That was overturned of old,
And it pours in the eyes of men
  Its wine of airy gold.
We drink that wine all day,
  Till the last drop is drained up,        40
And are lighted off to bed
  By the jewels in the cup!

THERE is but one great sorrow,
  All over the wide, wide world;
But that in turn must come to all—        45
The Shadow that moves behind the pall,
  A flag that never is furled.
Till he in his marching crosses
  The threshold of the door,
Usurps a place in the inner room,        50
Where he broods in the awful hush and gloom,
  Till he goes, and comes no more—
Save this there is no sorrow,
  Whatever we think we feel;
But when Death comes all’s over:        55
’T is a blow that we never recover,
  A wound that never will heal.

  ONCE the head is gray,
    And the heart is dead,
  There ’s no more to do:        60
    Make the man a bed
  Six foot under ground,
  There he ’ll slumber sound.
  Golden was my hair,
    And my heart did beat        65
  To the viol’s voice
    Like the dancers’ feet.
  Not colder now his blood
  Who died before the flood.
  Fair, and fond, and false,        70
    Mother, wife, and maid,
  Never lived a man
    They have not betrayed.
  None shall ’scape my mirth
  But old Mother Earth.        75
  Safely housed with her,
    With no company
  But my brother Worm,
    Who will feed on me,
  I shall slumber sound,        80
  Deep down under ground.


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