Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833-?)
"From Author's Collective Edition (Houghton, Mifflin, & Co.). A poet deservedly popular for his stirring ballads and free and graceful lyrics. As the author of the Poets of America and the still more widely known Victorian Poets, Mr. Stedman holds an undisputed place as the foremost American literary critic." (Sharp)
To Bayard Taylor
Bayard, awaken not this music strong,
While round thy home the indolent sweet breeze
Floats lightly as the summer breath of seas
O'er which Ulysses heard the Siren's song.
Dreams of low-lying isles to June belong,
And Circe holds us in her haunts of ease;
But later, when these high ancestral trees
Are sere, and such melodious languors wrong
The reddening strength of the autumnal year,
Yield to heroic words thy ear and eye;--
Intent on these broad pages thou shalt hear
The trumpets' blare, the Argive battle-cry,
And see Achilles hurl his hurtling spear,
And mark the Trojan arrows make reply!
A Mother's Picture
She seemed an angel to our infant eyes!
Once, when the glorifying moon revealed
Her who at evening by our pillow kneeled,
Soft-voiced and golden-haired, from holy skies
Flown to her loves on wings of Paradise,--
We looked to see the pinions half concealed
The Tuscan vines and olives will not yield
Her back to me, who loved her in this wise,
And since have little known her, but have grown
To see another mother, tenderly
Watch over sleeping children of my own.
Perchance the years have changed her: yet alone
This picture lingers; still she seems to me
The fair young angel of my infancy.
Bring no more flowers and books and precious things!
O speak no more of our beloved Art,
Of summer haunts,--melodious wanderings
In leafy refuge from this weary mart!
Surely such thoughts were dear unto my heart;
Now every word a newer sadness brings!
Thus oft some forest-bird caged far apart
From verdurous freedom, droops his careless wings,
Nor craves for more than food from day to day;
So long bereft of wild-wood joy and song,
Hopeless of all he dared to hope so long,
The music born within him dies away;
Even the song he loved becomes a pain,
Full-freighted with a yearning all in vain.
(Text from American Sonnets)