DWELLERS IN LAUREL TOWN
SHE SITS IN AN OLD KITCHEN CHAIR; WHILE THE HORSES
TRUNDLE THE WAGON ALONG SOUTH MASSACHUSETTS STREET UNDER HER
Her back is curved, hard work has swerved
Her form from its first light grace;
Her hands, thin and brown and awkward at rest,
Lie in the lap of her gown.
But unfading light from her face shines bright;
Her lips in self-conquest are drawn;
And her eyes look away to another day
That not yet has begun to dawn.
She is merely one of our Farmer folks,
But she brings the Beyond to sight;
She has given herself, without stint she has given
As a root sends its sap to the light.
She has merged herself in the land's patient life
As selfless as the sod;
She is merely one of our Farmer folks
Transmuting their touch with God.
DWELLERS IN LAUREL TOWN
THE LITTLE CITY OF THE GHOSTLY HEART
A little city, a meet human nest,
Lies snug on teeming lands of our Mid-West;
Its houses, broadly parked with neighbors', stand
Mid shrub and blossom, in a friendly band;
And midst bird-haunted maples, trees so tall
They seem like rows of pillars, or a wall
To lift the wide and open, sparkling sky
By winter's sun-dogs, or July's red eye.
Such to a stranger's sense this city seems;
And so to youthful students, when with dreams
And hopes of gaining fruits of ages-long
A self-reliant, heart-high, eager throng --
They swarm in dwelling, lecture-room and street,
And seize to-day, yet would to-morrow greet.
Democracy triumphant! For the state
Set on this city's height learning elate,
Its university -- its trained, strong arm
Stretched forth to succor, brain and heart to warm,
Exalt the people's life and make for right
Through all just works, and days of lucent light.
So does the little town in beauty rest;
A fellowship building an ideal best;
A gem on the telluric cloak of God;
A wind-flower rising from its blue-grass sod.
But ever in this city's ways and shade
There moves another hand.
From moss-soft mounds under broad oaks they come --
Where blue-bird, thrush and squirrel make their home --
And through the busy town they wander far,
These souls without the grosser body's wear;
And pass on restless, driven by the fire
That burns in spirits who for others aspire.
For their young manhood lay in that far day
When folk "went west" to work, and fight, and pray;
When men embodied ancient English zeal
For each man's right Puritan commonweal;
The Puritan intensity of soul,
Visions millennial, a new race to mould,
These Anglo-Saxon state-makers then sought,
And for their building their race-ideals brought.
To blaze a way, to make a trail, to plough,
To plant, to build a city -- never Now
But ever toward the Future urged their will;
And ever toward the future look they still.
O city of these future-yearning hearts!
O leaf-clad town where youths' years now do lie!
Thou hast in keeping many mounds of earth,
And only those who know not pass them by;
And misty beings ever go thy ways,
And tell of years agone, and sing God's praise.
They gave themselves and established here their home --
These ghostly men and women -- and they come
To watch right gain through fibre-strengthening strife;
They are this city's very heart and life.
First soldiers buoyantly; then in between
Their Colonel marches with a laughing mien;
The Minister whose sermons counted far --
But more his deeds among his people were;
A Governor with territorial tales
Of how he downed age-old, pro-slavery wails;
A Judge, whose violet eyes still shade with pain
His sentence -- lest it fail the offenders gain;
The Secretary who served Lincoln when he died;
The Naturalist, whose saurian was his pride;
Professor "Rob" joking in Latin speech;
And gentle he, "Lord" D., who smiled on each;
Hearth-builders, too, with honor signs aloft --
The trowel, straight-edge, plummet of their craft;
These, and still other souls, inebriate
Of labor and of planting seeds of state;
And with them constant wives in even pace,
Their homesick tears wetting a smiling face.
Soil-delvers, also, milkers of the kine,
Planters of orchards and the fruitful vine;
Their hair dishevelled, feet oftentimes splayed,
Hands brown and horny, and their forms arrayed
In dress ill-fit and faded -- still they go
With eyes reaping the future and aglow.
As when June winds drive from the southern seas,
And strike the wan primroses' fragile ease,
And each small bloom dips to its mellow soil,
Yet rises, ghost-like, after the gust's toil;
So this white folk, this city's heart and soul,
Sway with a new day's zeal, a new time's toll,
And yet pass ever singing old-times' joy and dole
"Had we not fought defeat, and woe and death,
Our haunts would hardly house your calmer breath;
To serve the truth, to see that justice guides,
That all are free, that equity abides --
Had we not fought for this with all our powers,
You here could build no safer life than ours;
To make our word incarnate in our deed,
This was our offering, and our highest meed."
Such are this city's heart. They realized
Ideals for which the human spirit cried
In swelling notes of Milton's sacred song;
In Shelley's verse to right the whole world's wrong;
In Arnold's ringing cry pressing to call
"Hail to the victors lying by the wall!"
So thou, O little town, thou purse of gold --
Beyond the price of all that's bought and sold --
Thou haunt of ghostly lives firm, free and bold;
Thou dwelling, too, of lives bright, young, untold;
Thou art a Land of Futures, place apart --
A little city of State-building Hearts.