Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

383 761 256 510 38.2

250

504

380 506 128 254

510 382

Agassiz's Prof. and Mrs.' Journey in Brazil
Beecher's Norwood
Benjamin's The Turk and the Greek
Channing's Early Recollections of Newport
Ellet's Mrs. Queens of American Society
Frothingham's (Miss) Translation of Nathan the Wise
Gail Hamilton's Woman's Wrongs.
Goldwin Smith's Three English Statesmen
Greene's Life of Major-General Nathanael Greene
Harte's Condensed Novels
Hassaurek's Four years among Spanish Americans
Henry J. Morgan's Bibliotheca Canadensis
Lanier's Tiger-Lilies
Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight
Madame Michelet's Story of My Childhood
Men of the Time .
Morgan's American Beaver and his Works
Motley's History of the United Netherlands
Reid's Ohio in the War
Riedesel's (General) Letters and Journals Stone's Translation)
Ruskin's Time and Tide by Weare and Tyne
Sciler's (Emma The Voice in Singing
Stowe's Origin and History of the Books of the Bible
Tuckerman's Book of the Artists.
Ye Legende of St. Gwendoline

569 381 639 512 632 252 127 639 638

123

255 236

THE

ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A Magasine of Literature, Science, Art,

and Politics.

VOL. XXI. — JANUARY, 1868. — NO. CXXIII.

THE WIFE.

AX IDYL OF BEARCAMP WATER.

A
LONG the roadside, like the flowers of gold

That tawny Incas in their gardens grew,
Heavy with sunshine droops the golden-rod,
And the red pennons of the cardinal-flowers
Hang motionless upon their upright staves.
The sky is hot and hazy, and the wind,
Wing-weary with its long flight from the south,
Unfelt; yet, closely scanned, yon maple leaf
With faintest motion, as one stirs in dreams,
Confesses it. The locust by the wall
Stabs the noon-silence with his sharp alarm.
A single hay-cart down the dusty road
Creaks slowly, with its driver fast asleep
On the load's top. Against the neighboring hill,
Huddled along the stone wall's shady side,
The sheep show white, as if a snow-drift still
Defied the dog-star. Through the open door
A drowsy smell of flowers - gray heliotrope,
And white sweet-clover, and shy mignonette -
Comes faintly in, and silent chorus lends
To the pervading symphony of peace.

No time is this for hands long overworn
To task their strength; and (unto Him be praise
Who giveth quietness !) the stress and strain
Of years that did the work of centuries

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by TICKNOR and Fields, in the Clerk's Office

of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts, VOL. XXI. — NO. 123.

1

Have ceased, and we can draw our breath once more
Freely and full. So, as yon harvesters
Make glad their nooning underneath the elms
With tale and riddle and old snatch of song,
I lay aside grave themes, and idly play
With fancies borrowed from remembered hills
That beckon to me from the cold blue North.
And yet not idly all. A farmer's son,
Proud of field lore and harvest-craft, and feeling
All their fine possibilities, while yet
Knowing too well the hard necessities
Of labor and privation, and the bare
And colorless realities of life
Without an atmosphere, I fain would see
The rugged ou es touched and glorified
With mellowing haze and golden-tinted mist.
Our yeoman should be equal to his home
Set in these fair green valleys, purple-walled, —
A man to match his mountains, not a drudge
Dull as the clod he turns. I fain would teach
In this light way the blind eyes to discern,
And the cold hearts to feel, in common things,
Beatitudes of beauty; and, meanwhile,
Pay somewhat of the mighty debt I owe
To Nature for ber ministry of love
And life-long benediction. With the rocks
And woods and mountain valleys which have been
Solace in suffering, and exceeding joy
In life's best moments, I would leave some sign,
When I am but a name and memory,
That I have loved them. Haply, in the years
That wait to take the places of our own,
Whispered upon some breezy balcony
Fronting the hills, or where the lake in the moon
Sleeps dreaming of the mountains, fair as Ruth,
In the old Hebrew pastoral, at the feet
Of Boaz, even this little lay of mine
May lift some burden from a heavy heart,
Or make a light one lighter for its sake.

We held our sideling way above

The river's whitening shallows,
By homesteads old, with wide-flung barns

Swept through and through by swallows,

By maple orchards, belts of pine

And larches climbing darkly
The mountain slopes, and, over all,

The great peaks rising starkly.

You should have seen that long hill-range

With gaps of brightness riven, —

How through each pass and hollow streamed

The purpling lights of heaven,

Rivers of gold-mist flowing down

From far celestial fountains, -
The shorn sun dropping, large and low,

Behind the wall of mountains !

We drove before the farm-house door,

The farmer called to Mary ;
Bare-armed, with Juno's step, she came,

White-aproned, from her dairy.

Her air, her smile, her motions, told

Of womanly completeness ;
A music as of household songs

Was in her voice of sweetness ;

An inborn grace that nothing lacked

Of culture or appliance,
The warmth of genial courtesy,

The calm of self-reliance.

Before her queenly womanhood

How dared our landlord utter The paltry errand of his need

To buy her fresh-churned butter ?

She led the way with housewife pride,

Her goodly store disclosing, Full tenderly the golden balls

With snow-white hands disposing.

Then, while across the darkening hills

We watched the changeful glory Of sunset, on our homeward way,

The landlord told her story.

From school and ball and rout she came,

The city's fair, pale daughter,
To drink the wine of mountain air

Beside the Bearcamp Water.

Her step grew firmer on the hills

That watch our homesteads over; On cheek and lip, from summer fields,

She caught the bloom of clover.

For health comes sparkling in the streamts

From cool Chocorua stealing, There 's iron in our Northern winds,

Our pines are trees of healing.

She sat beneath the broad-armed elms

That skirt the mowing-meadow, And watched the gentle west-wind weave

The grass with shine and shadow.

Beside her, from the summer heat

To share her grateful screening, With forehead bared, the farmer stood,

Upon his pitchfork leaning.

Framed in its damp, dark locks, his face

Had nothing mean or common, Strong, manly, true, the tenderness

And pride beloved of woman.

She looked up, glowing with the health

The country air had brought her, And, laughing, said : “You lack a wife, . Your mother lacks a daughter.

“ To mend your frock and bake your bread

You do not need a lady:
Be sure among these brown old homes

Is some one waiting ready, –

“Some fair, sweet girl with skilful hand

And cheerful heart for treasure, Who never played with ivory keys,

Or danced the polka's measure.”

He bent his black brows to a frown,

He set his white teeth tightly. “'T is well,” he said, "for one like you

To choose for me so lightly.

“You think, because my life is rude,

I take no note of sweetness ;
I tell you love has naught to do

With meetness or unmeetness.

“ Itself its best excuse, it asks

No leave of pride or fashion
When silken zone or homespun frock

It stirs with throbs of passion.

“ You think me deaf and blind; you bring

Your winning graces hither As free as if from cradle-time

We two had played together.

“You tempt me with your laughing eyes,

Your cheek of sundown's blushes,

« PreviousContinue »