H. C. Bunner (1855-1896)
Full name, Henry Cuyler Bunner. Selections below
from Airs from Arcady (1884)
"The editor of Puck and author of Airs from
Arcady is still a young man, and one who is well known in the literary
circles of New York. His poems, of which some on the subject of
Death are especially interesting, are published by Scribners." (Crandall)
Dead in Bohemia
Died in New Orleans, December 1879
Small was thy share of all this world's delight
And scant thy poet's crown of flowers of praise;
Yet ever catches quaint of quaint old days
Thou sang'st, and, singing, kept thy spirit bright
Even as to lips the winds of winter bite
Some outcast wanderer sets his flute and plays
Till at his feet blossom the icy ways,
And from the snowdrift's bitter wasting white
He hears the uprising carol of the lark,
Soaring from clover seas with summer ripe--
While freeze upon his cheek glad, foolish tears.
Ah! let us hope that somewhere in thy dark,
Herrick's full note, and Suckling's pleasant pipe,
Are sounding still their solace in thine ears.
text from American Sonnets)
A Poem in the Programme
A thousand fans are fretting the hot air;
Soft swells the music of the interlude
Above the murmurous hum of talk subdued;
But, from the noise withdrawn and from the glare,
Deep in the shadowy box your coilèd hair
Gleams golden bright, with diamonds bedewed;
Your head is bent; I know your dark eyes brood
On the poor sheet of paper you hold there,
That quotes my verses, and I see no more
That bald-head Plutus by your side. The seas
Sound in my ears; I hear the rustling pines;
Catch the low lisp of billows on the shore
Where once I lay in Knickerbockered ease,
And read to you those then unprinted lines.
text from Representative Sonnets by American Poets)
As to a bird's song she were listening,
Her beautiful head is ever sidewise bent;
Her questioning eyes lift up their depths intent—
She, who will never hear the wild-birds sing.
My words within her ears' cold chambers ring
Faint, with the city's murmurous sub-tones blent;
Though with such sounds as suppliants may have sent To high-throned goddesses, my speech takes wing.
Not for the side-poised head's appealing grace
I gaze, nor hair where fire in shadow lies—
For her this world's unhallowed noises base
Melt into silence; not our groans, our cries,
Our curses, reach that high-removèd place
Where dwells her spirit, innocently wise.
From a Counting-House
There is an hour when first the westering sun
Takes on some forecast faint of future red;
When from the wings of weariness is shed
A spell upon us toilers, every one;
The day's work lags a little, well-nigh done;
Far dusky lofts through all the close air spread
A smell of eastern bales; the old clerk's head
Nods by my side, heavy with dreams begun
In dear dead days wherein his heart is tombed.
But I my way to Italy have found;
Or wander where high stars gleam coldly through
The Alpine skies; or in some nest perfumed,
With soft Parisian luxury set round,
Held out my arms and cry "At last!" to you.
Farewell to Salvini
April 26th, 1883
Although a curtain of the salt sea-mist
May fall between the actor and our eyes—
Although he change for dear and softer skies
These that the sun has yet but coyly kissed—
Although the voice to which we loved to list
Fail ere the thunder of our plaudits dies—
Although he parts from us in gracious wise,
With grateful memory left his eulogist—
His best is with us still.
His perfect art
Has held us 'twixt a heart-throb and a tear—
Cheating our souls to passionate belief.
And in his greatness we have now some part—
We have been courtiers of the crownless Lear,
And partners in Othello's mighty grief.
As to the drunkard who at morn doth wake
Are the clear waters of the virgin spring
Wherewith he bathes his eyes that burn and sting
And his intolerable thirst doth slake,
So is the thought of thee to me, who break
One sober moment, sick and shuddering,
From all my life's unworthiness, to fling
Me at thy memory's feet, and for Love's sake
Pray that thy peace may enter in my soul.
Love, thou hast heart! My veins more calmly flow—
The madness of the night is passed away—
Fire of false eyes, thirst of the cursèd bowl—
I drink deep of thy purity, and lo!
Thou hast given me new heart to meet the day.