Wallace Bruce (1844-1914)

"Has a home in Poughkeepsie, a cottage in Florida, and is now consul at Leith, Scotland. He was chief editor of the Lit. at Yale, poet at the Newburg Centennial, poet at the unveiling of the Burns statue in Central Park, and on other occasions; being a favorite with Scotchmen and Grand Army veterans.  Has published Household Poems . (Harper & Brothers.)" (Crandall)

A Star-eyed Daisy

San Marco, St. Augustine

(Tri-centennial Anniversary, 1886)

Ensigns of empires flaunt thy flanking wall,
Grim ancient warders guard thy storied gate,
Loud Babeled centuries at thy bastions wait
On Spanish, French, and English seneschal.
Rich yellow folds of Castile's haughty state,
Fair Fleur de Lys from proud Parisian hall,
St. George's Cross triumphant o'er them all,
Recall long years of fierce and bloody hate.
But now the star-eyed daisy lifts its form
From crevice, chink, and crumbling parapet,
Without one stain of battle's crimson storm
On snowy leaf with golden petal set:
Bright banneret which Nature kindly rears
To deck with light the mould of bitter years.

The Stranger

An Eastern Legend

An aged man came late to Abraham's tent.
The sky was dark, and all the plain was bare.
He asked for bread; his strength was wellnigh spent,
His haggard look implored the tenderest care.
The food was brought.  He sat with thankful eyes,
But spake no grace, nor bowed he towards the east.
Safe sheltered here from dark and angry skies,
The bounteous table seemed a royal feast.
But ere his hand had touched the tempting fare,
The Patriarch rose, and leaning on his rod—
"Stranger," he said, "dost thou not bow in prayer?
Dost thou not fear, dost thou not worship God?"
He answered, "Nay."  The Patriarch sadly said:
"Thou hast my pity.  Go!  eat not my bread."

Another came that wild and fearful night.
The fierce winds raged, and darker grew the sky;
But all the tent was filled with wondrous light,
And Abraham knew the Lord his God was nigh.
"Where is that aged man?" the Presence said,
"That asked for shelter from the driving blast?
Who made thee master of thy Master's bread?
What right hadst thou the wanderer forth to cast?"
"Forgive me, Lord," the Patriarch answer made,
With downcast look, with bowed and trembling knee.
"Ah me!  the stranger might with me have stayed,
But, O my God, he would not worship Thee."
"I've borne him long," God said, "and still I wait:
Couldst thou not lodge him one night in thy gate?"

The Nuptials

New York and Brooklyn, 1883

The nuptial-knot at last is firmly tied;
A hundred bells ring out a merry chime,
A hundred wires proclaim to every clime—
Manhattan takes fair Brooklyn for his bride.
In strength and beauty growing side by side,
Cities betrothed, you waited vigorous prime,
Like steadfast lovers in the olden time,
Ere greed and gain our early faith defied.

We wish you joy.  No longer twain, but one,
Forever bound in links of triple steel;
You need no marriage ritual to rehearse,
Which Venice chanted to bright Adria won;
No golden ring; the service now is real—
"Each other take for better or for worse."


Again I see him on the sunlit lawn,
As in the May-day of that final year,
With brow as radiant as the early dawn,
And eye transparent as the heavens clear.
With cloak o'er shoulder thrown in careless grace,
He stands enframed in budding flowers and trees,
A genial Orpheus, with Olympian face
Forever fanned by pure Arcadian breeze.
Ah, more to me than Prospero's magic isle
The paths and greensward where the poet dreamed;
The opening blossoms wooed his kindly smile,
The expectant flowers with richer colors gleamed.
My soul still clasps the warm and generous hand
Which wields the sceptre of a kingless land.

To a Picture of Mary Stuart

When I do note the beauty of thine eyes,
And think that they have long been sightless dust;
When I observe the warrior's envied prize—
Helmet and corselet—thick with yellow rust;
When scutcheoned doors lie prone in castle halls,
And turrets totter, razed by ruthless Time;
When panelled brass from stately column falls,
Well-graved with praises writ in lofty rhyme—
Then I perceive how all things here decay;
That this wide world is but a shifting stage,
Where faith and love, fierce pride and passion, play,
And narrow lines divide the fool and sage;
Where fame's brief candle flickers to its death
And beauty's reign is measured by a breath.

Paris to Helen

Imperial beauty, born for Ilium's blight;
Sweet, winsome Helen, paragon of earth;
Would that our flocks were still on Ida's height,
And princely halls unemptied of their mirth!
Alas!  proud Troy is tottering to her fall;
Our promised joys are steeped in bitter pain;
Kinsmen and Greek in deep derision call,
And every eye speaks loathing and disdain.
Dear bribe of Venus!  why were we beguiled
By Cyprian words to walk in devious ways,
And leave our names as synonymes reviled
Forevermore through unforgiving days?
O fruitless passion, won at honor's cost!
Faith, courage, glory—all forever lost.

The Infinite

With measuring lines we reach from star to star,
On pinion bold we seek creation's rim,
The vast horizon mocks us from afar
With sphere on sphere beyond our vision dim;
On weary wing our thought, from voyage vain,
Like that lone dove, with neither leaf nor bud,
Returns to find the windowed ark again—
A floating refuge on a shoreless flood.
O mystery vast which veils the sovereign brow!
O vergeless silence, depths by light untrod!
Space without centre!  Time, eternal now!
O star-gemmed vesture!  Seamless robe of God!
What word doth this vast Universe inthrall!
Bounded by nothing, yet embracing all.

Juliet to Romeo

One more fond kiss, my Romeo, and away!
The eastern hills are touched with rosy light.
Ah love, with thee dun night is brightest day,
And brightest day, when thou art gone, is night.
How blest the hours swift-borne on starry wheels!
How heavy waiting on the laggard sun!
A weary void till day her eyelids seals,
And Heaven's high warders guard love's fortress won.
Dear Romeo, go!  Yet I would have thee stay.
O pilfering morn, that robs the jewelled skies!
Purloining gems within thy mantle gray,
Take all, but leave the one dear star I prize.
Alas!  that love from love should ever part;
Yon sunrise brings wan sunset to my heart.

Antony to Cleopatra

My Cleopatra, queen, alas the day
Thy lustrous eyes proclaimed such bitter doom!
That shame and Antony should live for aye,
An epitaph on Time's enduring tomb!
Soft-coiling serpent!  Thy enticing wiles
Hold heroes captive in strong toils of grace;
For power is lost in passion, as fond smiles
Light up the matchless beauty of thy face.
Cold duty summons; but, enchantress fair,
My courage melts beneath thy glowing eyes;
And in thine arms I neither reck nor care
If Roman honor lives or basely dies.
Let Fame's rich pearl dissolve in nectar bright!
Farewell to valor—day is lost in night.

Ferdinand to Miranda

Miranda mine, thy beauty is more rare
Than May-day flowers that deck the meadows green;
Thy lips are sweeter than the lily fair
Plucked fresh at dawn from out the glittering sheen;
The mantling color of thy cheek's bright hue
Makes pale and shames the blood of damask-rose;
Thine eye preserves the violet's pensive blue,
Which, born of light, with Heaven's own color glows;
Thy neck, full sweet, seems like a flowery lane,
Or garden pathway, to thy gentle breast,
Where love, that knows not passion's earthly stain,
Has dwelt alone and wished no other guest.
Here Eden's flowers retain the morning dew,
And sweeter seem united all in you.
(Texts above from Old Household Poems (1888))

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