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CLEON AND I
Toward the end of the yacht race in which the America won her historic cup the English monarch, who was one of the spectators, inquired: "Which boat is first?" "The America seems to be first, your majesty," replied an aide. "And which is second?" asked the monarch. "Your majesty, there seems to be no second." So it is in the race for happiness. The man who is natural, who is open and kind of heart, is always first. The man who is merely rich or sheltered or proud is not even a good second.
LEON hath a million acres, ne'er a one have I;
Cleon dwelleth in a palace, in a cottage I; Cleon hath a dozen fortunes, not a penny I; Yet the poorer of the twain is Cleon, and not I.
Cleon, true, possesses acres, but the landscape I;
Cleon is a slave to grandeur, free as thought am I; Cleon fees a score of doctors, need of none have I; Wealth-surrounded, care-environed, Cleon fears to die; Death may come, he'll find me ready, happier man am I.
Cleon sees no charm in nature, in a daisy I;
Cleon hears no anthems ringing in the sea and sky;
State for state, with all attendants, who would change?
Most of our ills and troubles are not very serious when we come to examine the realities of them. Or perhaps we expect too much. An old negro was complaining that the railroad would not pay him for his mule, which it had killed-nay, would not even give him back his rope. "What rope?" he was asked. "Why, sah," answered he, “de rope dat I tied de mule on de track wif.”
Nothing to see but sights,
Nothing to quench but thirst,
Nothing to strike but a gait;
Nothing at all but common sense
From "Ben King's Verse,"
A PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED
There are irritating, troublesome people about us. Of what use is it to be irritating in our turn or to add to the trouble? Most offenders have their better side. Our wisest course is to find this and upon the basis of it build up a better relationship.
HERE'S a fellow in your office
Who complains and carps and whines
To his heirs and his assigns.
But I'll tip you to a secret
(And this chap's of course involved)-
There's a duffer in your district
This old earth's (I'm sometimes thinking)
One menagerie of freaks
Folks invested with abnormal
Lungs or brains or galls or beaks.
St. Clair Adams
Here the poet looks forward to death. He does not ask for an easy death; he does not wish to creep past an experience which all men sooner or later must face, and which many men have faced so heroically. He has fought well in life; he wishes to make the last fight too. The poem was written shortly after the death of Mrs. Browning, and the closing lines refer to her.
EAR death?-to feel the fog in my throat,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
For the journey is done and the summit attained,
Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
I was ever a fighter, so-one fight more,
The best and the last!
I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore, And bade me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
The black minute's at end,
And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices that rave,
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest!
THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL
Geologists tell us that in the long processes of the ages mountains have been raised and leveled, continents formed and washed away. Astronomers tell us that in space are countless worlds, many of them doubtless inhabited-perhaps by creatures of a lower type than we, perhaps by creatures of a higher. The magnitude of these changes and of these worlds makes the imagination reel. But on one thing we can rely-the greatness of the human soul. On one thing we can confidently build-the men whose spirit is lofty, divine.
OR tho' the Giant Ages heave the hill
Make and break, and work their will;
And other forms of life than ours,
What know we greater than the soul?
On God and Godlike men we build our trust.
What sheer perseverance can accomplish, even in matters of the heart, is revealed in this little poem written in Heine's mood of mingled seriousness and gayety.
E asked if she ever could love him.
She answered him, no, on the spot.
He asked if she ever could love him.
From "Shadow Verses,"