Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Mr. Hosea Biglow to the Editor of the Atlantic Monthly
By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
 
[From The Biglow Papers. Second Series. 1866.]

WHERE’S Peace? I start, some clear-blown night,
  When gaunt stone walls grow numb an’ number,
An’ creakin’ ’cross the snow-crus’ white,
  Walk the col’ starlight into summer;
Up grows the moon, an’ swell by swell        5
  Thru the pale pasturs silvers dimmer
Than the last smile thet strives to tell
  O’ love gone heavenward in its shimmer.
 
I hev ben gladder o’ sech things
  Than cocks o’ spring or bees o’ clover,        10
They filled my heart with livin’ springs,
  But now they seem to freeze ’em over;
Sights innercent ez babes on knee,
  Peaceful ez eyes o’ pastur’d cattle,
Jes’ coz they be so, seem to me        15
  To rile me more with thoughts o’ battle.
 
In-doors an’ out by spells I try;
  Ma’am Natur’ keeps her spin-wheel goin’,
But leaves my natur’ stiff and dry
  Ez fiel’s o’ clover arter mowin’;        20
An’ her jes’ keepin’ on the same,
  Calmer ’n a clock, an’ never carin’,
An’ findin’ nary thing to blame,
  Is wus than ef she took to swearin’.
*        *        *        *        *
Rat-tat-tat-tattle thru the street        25
  I hear the drummers makin’ riot,
An’ I set thinkin’ o’ the feet
  Thet follered once an’ now are quiet,—
White feet ez snowdrops innercent,
  Thet never knowed the paths o’ Satan,        30
Whose comin’ step ther’s ears thet won’t,
  No, not lifelong, leave off awaitin’.
 
Why, hain’t I held ’em on my knee?
  Didn’t I love to see ’em growin’,
Three likely lads ez wal could be,        35
  Hahnsome an’ brave an’ not tu knowin’?
I set an’ look into the blaze
  Whose natur’, jes’ like theirn, keeps climbin’,
Ez long ’z it lives, in shinin’ ways,
  An’ half despise myself for rhymin’.        40
 
Wut’s words to them whose faith an’ truth
  On War’s red techstone rang true metal,
Who ventered life an’ love an’ youth
  For the gret prize o’ death in battle?
To him who, deadly hurt, agen        45
  Flashed on afore the charge’s thunder,
Tippin’ with fire the bolt of men
  Thet rived the Rebel line asunder?
 
’Tain’t right to hev the young go fust,
  All throbbin’ full o’ gifts an’ graces,        50
Leavin’ life’s paupers dry ez dust
  To try an’ make b’lieve fill their places:
Nothin’ but tells us wut we miss,
  Ther’s gaps our lives can’t never fay in,
An’ thet world seems so fur from this        55
  Lef’ for us loafers to grow gray in!
 
My eyes cloud up for rain; my mouth
  Will take to twitchin’ roun’ the corners;
I pity mothers, tu, down South,
  For all they sot among the scorners:        60
I’d sooner take my chance to stan’
  At Jedgment where your meanest slave is,
Than at God’s bar hol’ up a han’
  Ez drippin’ red ez yourn, Jeff Davis!
 
Come, Peace! not like a mourner bowed        65
  For honor lost an’ dear ones wasted,
But proud, to meet a people proud,
  With eyes thet tell o’ triumph tasted!
Come, with han’ grippin’ on the hilt,
  An’ step thet proves ye Victory’s daughter!        70
Longin’ for you, our sperits wilt
  Like shipwrecked men’s on raf’s for water.
 
Come, while our country feels the lift
  Of a gret instinct shoutin’ forwards,
An’ knows thet freedom ain’t a gift        75
  Thet tarries long in han’s o’ cowards!
Come, sech ez mothers prayed for, when
  They kissed their cross with lips thet quivered,
An’ bring fair wages for brave men,
  A nation saved, a race delivered!        80
 
 
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