The Emigrant Mother By William Wordsworth

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Once in a lonely hamlet I sojourned
In which a Lady driven from France did dwell;
The big and lesser griefs with which she mourned,
In friendship she to me would often tell.
This Lady, dwelling upon British ground,
Where she was childless, daily would repair
To a poor neighbouring cottage; as I found,
For sake of a young Child whose home was there.

Once having seen her clasp with fond embrace
This Child, I chanted to myself a lay,
Endeavouring, in our English tongue, to trace
Such things as she unto the Babe might say:
And thus, from what I heard and knew, or guessed,
My song the workings of her heart expressed.

I

“Dear Babe, thou daughter of another,
One moment let me be thy mother!
An infant’s face and looks are thine,
And sure a mother’s heart is mine:
Thy own dear mother’s far away,
At labour in the harvest field:
Thy little sister is at play;
What warmth, what comfort would it yield
To my poor heart, if thou wouldst be
One little hour a child to me!

II

“Across the waters I am come,
And I have left a babe at home:
A long, long way of land and sea!
Come to me, I’m no enemy:
I am the same who at thy side
Sate yesterday, and made a nest
For thee, sweet Baby! thou hast tried,
Thou know’st the pillow of my breast;
Good, good art thou: alas! to me
Far more than I can be to thee.

III

“Here, little Darling, dost thou lie;
An infant thou, a mother I!
Mine wilt thou be, thou hast no fears;
Mine art thou, spite of these my tears.
Alas! before I left the spot,
My baby and its dwelling-place;
The nurse said to me, ‘Tears should not
Be shed upon an infant’s face,
It was unlucky’ no, no, no;
No truth is in them who say so!

IV

“My own dear Little-one will sigh,
Sweet Babe! and they will let him die.
‘He pines,’ they’ll say, ‘it is his doom,
And you may see his hour is come.’
Oh! had he but thy cheerful smiles,
Limbs stout as thine, and lips as gay,
Thy looks, thy cunning, and thy wiles,
And countenance like a summer’s day,
They would have hopes of him; and then
I should behold his face again!

V

“‘Tis gone, like dreams that we forget;
There was a smile or two, yet, yet
I can remember them, I see
The smiles, worth all the world to me.
Dear Baby! I must lay thee down;
Thou troublest me with strange alarms;
Smiles hast thou, bright ones of thy own;
I cannot keep thee in my arms;
For they confound me; where, where is
That last, that sweetest smile of his?

VI

“Oh! how I love thee! we will stay
Together here this one half day.
My sister’s child, who bears my name,
From France to sheltering England came;
She with her mother crossed the sea;
The babe and mother near me dwell:
Yet does my yearning heart to thee
Turn rather, though I love her well:
Rest, little Stranger, rest thee here!
Never was any child more dear!

VII

“I cannot help it; ill intent
I’ve none, my pretty Innocent!
I weep, I know they do thee wrong,
These tears, and my poor idle tongue.
Oh, what a kiss was that! my cheek
How cold it is! but thou art good;
Thine eyes are on me, they would speak,
I think, to help me if they could.
Blessings upon that soft, warm face,
My heart again is in its place!

VIII

“While thou art mine, my little Love,
This cannot be a sorrowful grove;
Contentment, hope, and mother’s glee,
I seem to find them all in thee:
Here’s grass to play with, here are flowers;
I’ll call thee by my darling’s name;
Thou hast, I think, a look of ours,
Thy features seem to me the same;
His little sister thou shalt be;
And, when once more my home I see,
I’ll tell him many tales of Thee.”

 

William Wordsworth, 1770-1850.

 

Painting, A peasant woman digging in front of her cottage, Vincent Van Gogh.

The Emigrant’s Address To America. By Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

jenn

All hail to thee, noble and generous Land!
With thy prairies boundless and wide,
Thy mountains that tower like sentinels grand,
Thy lakes and thy rivers of pride!

Thy forests that hide in their dim haunted shades
New flowers of loveliness rare –
Thy fairy like dells and thy bright golden glades,
Thy warm skies as Italy’s fair.

Here Plenty has lovingly smiled on the soil,
And ‘neath her sweet, merciful reign
The brave and long suff’ring children of toil
Need labor no longer in vain.

I ask of thee shelter from lawless harm,
Food – raiment – and promise thee now,
In return, the toil of a stalwart arm,
And the sweat of an honest brow.

But think not, I pray, that this heart is bereft
Of fond recollections of home;
That I e’er can forget the dear land I have left
In the new one to which I have come.

Oh no! far away in my own sunny isle
Is a spot my affection worth,
And though dear are the scenes that around me now smile,
More dear is the place of my birth!

There hedges of hawthorn scent the sweet air,
And, thick as the stars of the night,
The daisy and primrose, with flow’rets as fair,
Gem that soil of soft verdurous light.

And there points the spire of my own village church,
That long has braved time’s iron power,
With its bright glitt’ring cross and ivy wreathed porch –
Sure refuge in sorrow’s dark hour!

Whilst memory lasts think not e’er from this breast
Can pass the fond thoughts of my home:
No! I ne’er can forget the land I have left
In the new one to which I have come!

 

Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon, 1829-1879.

 

Artwork by Jenn Zed

The Fires By Rudyard Kipling

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Men make them fires on the hearth
Each under his roof-tree,
And the Four Winds that rule the earth
They blow the smoke to me.

Across the high hills and the sea
And all the changeful skies,
The Four Winds blow the smoke to me
Till the tears are in my eyes.

Until the tears are in my eyes
And my heart is well nigh broke
For thinking on old memories
That gather in the smoke.

With every shift of every wind
The homesick memories come,
From every quarter of mankind
Where I have made me a home.

Four times a fire against the cold
And a roof against the rain,
Sorrow fourfold and joy fourfold
The Four Winds bring again!

How can I answer which is best
Of all the fires that burn?
I have been too often host or guest
At every fire in turn.

How can I turn from any fire,
On any man’s hearthstone?
I know the wonder and desire
That went to build my own!

How can I doubt man’s joy or woe
Where’er his house-fires shine.
Since all that man must undergo
Will visit me at mine?

Oh, you Four Winds that blow so strong
And know that his is true,
Stoop for a little and carry my song
To all the men I knew!

Where there are fires against the cold,
Or roofs against the rain,
With love fourfold and joy fourfold,
Take them my songs again!

 

 

Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936. 

 

Original photograph by Ivan Bandura. 

 

 

 

 

Thistle-Down By E. Pauline Johnson

Thistledown

Beyond a ridge of pine with russet tips
The west lifts to the sun her longing lips,

Her blushes stain with gold and garnet dye
The shore, the river and the wide far sky;

Like floods of wine the waters filter through
The reeds that brush our indolent canoe.

I beach the bow where sands in shadows lie;
You hold my hand a space, then speak good-bye.

Upwinds your pathway through the yellow plumes
Of goldenrod, profuse in August blooms,

And o’er its tossing sprays you toss a kiss;
A moment more, and I see only this –

The idle paddle you so lately held,
The empty bow your pliant wrist propelled,

Some thistles purpling into violet,
Their blossoms with a thousand thorns afret,

And like a cobweb, shadowy and grey,
Far floats their down – far drifts my dream away.

 

 

E. Pauline Johnson, 1861-1913.

 

Photograph by 3268auber.

 

The Fire By Lola Ridge

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The old men of the world have made a fire
To warm their trembling hands.
They poke the young men in.
The young men burn like withes*.

If one run a little way,
The old men are wrath.
They catch him and bind him and throw him again to the flames.
Green withes burn slow…
And the smoke of the young men’s torment
Rises round and sheer as the trunk of a pillared oak,
And the darkness thereof spreads over the sky….

Green withes burn slow…
And the old men of the world sit round the fire
And rub their hands….
But the smoke of the young men’s torment
Ascends up for ever and ever.

 

Lola Ridge, 1873-1941.

Photograph by Dennis J. Kurpius.

 

* a willow twig or osier; any tough, flexible twig or stem

In the Next Yard by Helen Hoyt

O yes, you are very cunning,
I can see that:
Out there in the snow with your red cart
And your wooly grey coat
And those ridiculous
Little grey leggings!
Like a rabbit,
A demure brownie.
O yes, you are cunning;
But do not think you will escape your father and mother
And what your brothers are!
I know the pattern.
It will surely have you—
For all these elfish times in the snow—
As commonplace as the others,
Little grey rabbit.

 

Helen Hoyt, 1887-1972.

Painting: Winter Hare by Bruno Lilijefors.