Great Poems by American Women

Great Poems by American Women by Susan L. Rattiner Page A

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Authors: Susan L. Rattiner
leap into leaf,
To prove death could not make my love forget.
    I believe if I should fade
Into those mystic realms where light is made,
And you should long once more my face to see,
I would come forth upon the hills of night
And gather stars, like fagots, till thy sight,
Led by their beacon blaze, fell full on me!
    I believe my faith in thee,
Strong as my life, so nobly placed to be,
I would as soon expect to see the sun
Fall like a dead king from his height sublime,
His glory stricken from the throne of time,
As thee unworth the worship thou hast won.
    I believe who hath not loved
Hath half the sweetness of his life unproved;
Like one who, with the grape within his grasp,
Drops it with all its crimson juice unpressed,
And all its luscious sweetness left unguessed,
Out from his careless and unheeding clasp.
    I believe love, pure and true,
Is to the soul a sweet, immortal dew,
That gems life’s petals in its hours of dusk;
The waiting angels see and recognize
The rich crown jewel, Love, of Paradise,
When life falls from us like a withered husk.
    As by the instrument she took her place,
The expectant people, breathing sigh nor word,
Sat hushed, while o’er the waiting ivory stirred
Her supple hands with their suggestive grace.
With sweet notes they began to interlace,
And then with lofty strains their skill to gird,
Then loftier still, till all the echoes heard
Entrancing harmonies float into space.
She paused, and gaily trifled with the keys
Until they laughed in wild delirium,
Then, with rebuking fingers, from their glees
She led them one by one till all grew dumb,
And music seemed to sink upon its knees,
A slave her touch could quicken or benumb.
    Her Horoscope
    â€™T is true, one half of woman’s life is hope
And one half resignation. Between there lies
Anguish of broken dreams,—doubt, dire surprise,
And then is born the strength with all to cope.
    Unconsciously sublime, life’s shadowed slope
She braves; the knowledge in her patient eyes
Of all that love bestows and love denies,
As writ in every woman’s horoscope!
She lives, her heart-beats given to others’ needs,
Her hands, to lift for others on the way
The burdens which their weariness forsook.
She dies, an uncrowned doer of great deeds.
Remembered? Yes, as is for one brief day
The rose one leaves in some forgotten book.
    A Georgia Volunteer
    Far up the lonely mountain-side
    My wandering footsteps led;
    The moss lay thick beneath my feet,
    The pine sighed overhead.
    The trace of a dismantled fort
    Lay in the forest nave,
    And in the shadow near my path
    I saw a soldier’s grave.
    The bramble wrestled with the weed
    Upon the lowly mound;—
    The simple head-board, rudely writ,
    Had rotted to the ground;
    I raised it with a reverent hand,
    From dust its words to clear,
    But time had blotted all but these—
    â€œA Georgia Volunteer!”
    I saw the toad and scaly snake
    From tangled covert start,
    And hide themselves among the weeds
    Above the dead man’s heart;
    But undisturbed, in sleep profound,
    Unheeding, there he lay;
    His coffin but the mountain soil,
    His shroud Confederate gray.
    I heard the Shenandoah roll
    Along the vale below,
    I saw the Alleghanies rise
    Towards the realms of snow.
    The “Valley Campaign” rose to mind—
    Its leader’s name—and then
    I knew the sleeper had been one
    Of Stonewall Jackson’s men.
    Yet whence he came, what lip shall say—
    Whose tongue will ever tell
    What desolated hearths and hearts
    Have been because he fell?
    What sad-eyed maiden braids her hair,
    Her hair which he held dear?
    One lock of which perchance lies with
    The Georgia Volunteer!
    What mother, with long watching eyes,
    And white lips cold and dumb,
    Waits with appalling patience for
    Her darling boy to come?
    Her boy! whose mountain grave swells up
    But one of many a scar,
    Cut on the face of our fair land,
    By gory-handed

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