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THE VACANT LOT
They're going to build a flathouse on the lot next door to me;
And Roger Jones, the janitor's boy, is mad as he can be.
That lot was like a tropic isle, with weeds and rubbish fair,
The rusty cans and coffee pots, that looked like Roger's hair.
'Twas oft we strolled among the weeds, we were in love, you see. ? And Roger Jones was going to build a bungalow for me.
We used to rest upon a rock just where the weeds were tall;
We were engaged, I think, until the builders spoiled it all.
But now they've ruined Roger's plans, they've dug up all the lot;
With all the brick and mortar round, you'd never know the spot.
They came with carts and horses; tore our wilderness apart;
No wonder Roger Jones was wild; it nearly broke my heart.
We could have done some wondrous things if time were not so slow;
The weeds, they might have grown to trees, fit for a bungalow.
With rusty cans and broken glass, we'd planned a home so nice:
But they dumped their brick and mortar in our little paradise.
They dumped their brick and mortar 'mid the smoky lakes of lime,
Yet we won't forget, 'twas Eden-Eden, once upon a time.
Eden, where we dreamed supremely--rusty can and coffee pot;
Eden, with the weeds and rubbish, in a vacant city lot.
And now, we're simply waiting, oh, that janitor's boy and me,
Until the janitor's boy grows up and finds himself quite free
To just discover areas where builders never go,
Where we may live forever in a little bungalow.
11 years old. Publisher: Thomas Seltzer, New York.
2 No puppet master pulls the strings on high,
Portioning our parts, the tinsel and the paint:
A twisted nerve, a ganglion gone awry,
Predestinates the sinner and the saint.
Each, held more firmly than by hempen band,
Slave of his entrails, struts across the scene:
The malnutrition of some obscure gland
Makes him a Ripper or the Nazarene.
GEORGE SYLVESTER VIERECK.
From "The Three Sphinxes and Other Poems."
Helen out of Helas came,
Finding home-life slightly slow,
Towered Troy to set aflame:
Priam's whiskers to and fro
Waved and withered in the glow
Like a bunch of spinach greens;
Priam murmured, sad and low,
“Arson is the sport of Queens.”
Nero's spouse, the flighty dame,
Was a fire fanatic, so-
Knowing he would get the blame
Touched off Rome and let 'er blow!
Nero said, “She loves a show,
Dotes on pyrotechnic scenes,
Sparkles please her, don't you know !
Arson is the sport of Queens."
Cleopatra loathed a tame
Tepid time or bashful beau-
Cats call her a burning shame
Kate of Russia's wrath, I trow
Scorched the circumjacent snow;
Many a princess in her teens
Thought a torch was made to throw;
Arson is the sport of Queens.
Modern Woman, should you grow
Peeved and burn our old machines
Civic, moral—let 'em go:
Arson is the sport of Queens !
From "Noah an' Jonah an' Cap'n John Smith," published by D. Appleton Company.
I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away!
With a cheery smile and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you-oh, you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return-
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here;
And loyal still, as he gave the blows
Of his warrior strength to his country's foes-
Mild and gentle, as he was brave,
When the sweetest love of his life he gave
To the simple things; where the violets grew
Pure as the eyes they were likened to,
The touches of his hands have strayed
As reverently as his lips have prayed;
When the little brown thrush that harshly chirred
Was dear to him as the mocking-bird;
And he pities as much as a man in pain
A writhing honey-bee wet with rain.
Think of him still as the same, I say;
He is not dead he is just-away!
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY.
From "Afterwhiles" by James Whitcomb Riley. Copyright, 1887, 1914. (This poem, reprinted by the courteous consent of the Bobbs-Merrill Company, owners of the copyright, was read « the funeral in Washington of Calvin Coolidge, Jr.]
Oh, Riley, with your home folks you've won my heart entire;
I wander with them by the creek, I join them at the fire.
They do not shame my shyness with any worldly show-
The plain folks, the kind folks that you have made me know.
I met them and spoke them when I was but a boy,
But never saw the pure gold, only the alloy.
For I was keen to take the road that led towards the Town,
Beyond the range of purple hills to where the sky came down.
There were the great folk, the powerful, the wise;
We were but the toiling hands, they the watchful eyes.
The Town's ways were strange ways, uncivil and unkind;
Grace they had but not the grace of them I left behind.
For pride I bide among them and make their ways my own;
And in their work am one of them, but in my heart-alone.
House have I and wife have I and babes to bear my name;
I think it like my father's house, but it is not the same.
A hunger, deep, unsatisfied, is urging me to roam-
The long road, the lost road, the end of which is Home.
The old home, the old scenes—I long for them in vain:
The dear bearts, the true hearts I shall not meet again.
But sometimes, with your folks, I glimpse the olden glow,
And love them as I never knew I loved them long ago.
“I will leave man to make the fateful guess,
Will leave him torn between the no and yes,
Leave him unresting till he rests in me,
Drawn upward by the choice that makes him free
Leave him in tragic loneliness to choose,
With all in life to win or all to lose.”
From The Homiletic Review (New York).
Whenever there is Music, it is you
Who came between me and the strings:
The cloudy portals part to let you through,
Troubled and strange with long rememberings.
Your nearness gathers ghostwise down the room,
And through the pleading violins they play,
There drifts the dim and delicate perfume
That once was you, come dreamily/astray.
Behind what thin and shadowy doors you wait
That such frail things as these should set you free!
When all my need, like armies at a gate,
Would storm in vain to bring you back to me;
When in this hush of strings you draw more near
Than any sound of music that I hear.
The pyramids; those domes and spires and towers;
All massive ruins, and fragile things-
Phænician glass, Etruscan rare-wrought rings;
Frescoes embalming Death's and Beauty's powers;
These myriad wheels that make a jest of time
By multiplying hands and shaming feat;
Steel steeds below, winged men above, more fleet
Than aught but light or sound; steel frames that climb
To touch the stars with trade; steel whales afloat
With thousands in their maws,-for every whim
Of sated sense an instant antidote-
Mammoth unleashed and mite to mote refined
Are dust of thought: “All matter is dead mind."
LEE MITCHELL HODGES.
From The Villager, Katonah, N. Y.