H. C. Bunner

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


H. C. BUNNER

By Brander Matthews

ONLY a few weeks ago Death put an end to a friendship that had endured for nineteen years—nearly the half of my friend's life, as it happened, for he was but forty when he died, and only a little less than the half of mine; and in all these years of our manhood there had never been the shadow of a cloud over the friendship. Sympathy was indeed he keynote of Bunner's character, and cheery helpfulness was a chief of his characteristics. To me the companionship was of inestimable benefit; and it is bitter to face a future when I can no more hope for his hearty greeting, for the welcoming glance of his eager eye, for the solid grip of his hand, and for the unfailing stimulus and solace of his conversation.

It was late in the winter of 1877 that I made Bunner's acquaintance, three or four weeks after the first number of Puck had been issued in English. In the fall of 1876 Messrs. Keppler & Schwarzmann had started a German comic paper with colored cartoons, and it had been so well received that they were persuaded to accept Mr. Sydney Rosenfeld's suggestion to get out an edition in the English language also, utilizing the same cuts and caricatures. Bunner had already aided Mr. Rosenfeld in a journalistic venture which had died young; and he was the first man asked to join the small staff of the new weekly.

He was then barely twenty-two years old, but he had already had not a little experience in journalism. Educated at Dr. Callisen's school, he had been prepared for Columbia College; but at the last minute he had given up his college career, much as Washington Irving had chosen to do three-quarters of a century earlier. When he took his place as a clerk in an importing house—an experience that was to give him an invaluable knowledge of the ways of mercantile New York—he had supplemented his schooling by much browsing along the shelves of the library of his maternal uncle, Henry T. Tuckerman. He had taken Thoreau's advice to "read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all." When he gave up this place and trusted to his pen to make a living he had his British essayists at the ends of his fingers and his British poets at the tip of his tongue. He had been brought up on Shakespeare. He was a fair Latinist, and it is rare to find a lover of Horace whose own style lacks savor. While he was writing for the Arcadian, another short-lived journal, he was able to increase his acquaintance with the latter-day literatures of France and Germany. This was an equipment far richer than that of the ordinary young man who becomes an assistant on a comic paper.

The early numbers of Puck abound in evidences of Bunner's manifold qualifications for his new position. He had wide reading to give flavor to his writing, he had wit, he had humor, he was a master of parody in prose and verse, he had invention and ingenuity and unfailing freshness, and above all he had the splendid fecundity of confident youth. The staff of the paper was very small, and little money could be spent for outside contributions; and there were many weeks when nearly half of the whole number was written by Bunner. More than half of the good things in Puck were Bunner's, as I discovered when I paid my first visit to the office.

I had contributed to Mr. Rosenfeld's earlier venture, and when the new journal was started I opened communication with him again. One day I was asked to call. The office of Puck was then in a dingy building in North William Street, since torn down to make room for the Brooklyn Bridge. Mr. Rosenfeld met me at the street door, and after our first greetings we passed by the printing machinery on the ground floor and began our ascent to the editorial room in an upper story. I complimented Mr. Rosenfeld on something in the current number of Puck—I forget now what it was, but I think it was a certain "Ballad of Burdens." "Bunner wrote that, "I was informed by Mr. Rosenfeld, who had a hearty appreciation of his fellow-worker's ability. As we toiled up the next flight of stairs I praised something else I had seen in the pages of Puck, and Mr. Rosenfeld responded, "That was Bunner's too." On the third landing I commended yet another contribution, only to be told for the third time that Bunner was the author of that also. Then we entered the bare loft, at one end of which the artists had their drawing-tables, while at the other end stood the sole editorial desk. And there I had the pleasure of shaking hands with the writer of the various articles I had admired. He was beardless and slim, and, in spite of his glasses, he impressed me as very young indeed. He had ardor, vivacity, and self-possession, and it did not take me long to discover that his comrades held him in high esteem. As for myself, I liked him at first glance; and that afternoon a friendship was founded which endured as long as his life.

A few weeks later Mr. Rosenfeld and Messrs. Keppler & Schwarzmann disagreed and he left the paper. Then Bunner succeeded to the editorship. In those days Puck was still but an experiment; and it was long doubtful whether or not it would survive, as none of its countless predecessors had been able to do. That it did not die young as Vanity Fair had died and Mrs. Grundy and Punchinello, was due, I think, to the fortunate combination of the caricaturing adroitness of Joseph Keppler, the business sense of Mr. Schwarzmann, and the editorial resourcefulness of Bunner. To apportion the credit exactly among these three is impossible and unnecessary; the qualities of all three were really indispensable to the ultimate strength of the new weekly. It was not long after Bunner became editor that the circulation of the edition of Puck printed in English began to gain on the circulation of the edition printed in German; and after awhile the owners discovered that instead of having a German paper with an offshoot in English they had in fact a paper in English with an annex in German. Bunner it was who acted as a medium between the German originators of Puck and the American public. No paper could have had a more loyal editor, and for years Bunner put the best of his strength into its pages. He had been known to say that, after his family, his first thought was for Puck.

At first he did not care for politics, taking more interest in literature, in the drama and in art, and having given little thought to public affairs. But he soon saw how great an influence might be wielded by the editor of a comic paper who should accompany the political cartoon with persuasive comment; and with tins perception came a sense of his own responsibility. He began at once to reason out for himself the principles which should govern political action. He did his own thinking in politics as in literature; he was as independent as he was patriotic. In Lowell's essay on Lincoln we are told that even at the outbreak of the Rebellion there were not wanting among us men "who had so steeped their brains in London literature as to mistake cockneyism for European culture, and contempt of their country for cosmopolitan breadth of view." To say that Bunner was wholly free from any taint of anglomania is to state the case mildly; his Americanism was as sturdy as Lowell's. He was firmly rooted in the soil of his nativity. He was glad that he was an American and proud of being a New Yorker. He saw that creatures of the type that Lowell scorned still lingered on; and if he were intolerant toward any one it was toward the renegade American, the man without a country.

But Bunner was rarely intolerant. His imagination was quick enough to let him understand why those who opposed him should hold a different view of the duty of the moment; and he set himself to the task of persuading his opponents. He met them, not with invective, but with an appeal to their reason. And this is the way in which he was able to make the editorial page of Puck a power for good in the land. In its nature journalism must be ephemeral; and perhaps it was to be expected that the work Bunner did in inciting his readers to independence of thought is already half forgotten, and that it never even received the full recognition it deserved.

Until the nomination of Mr. Blaine in 1884 Puck might have been called an independent Republican paper; but after the nomination of Mr. Cleveland, Puck was an independent Democratic paper. Bunner greatly admired the stalwart manliness of Mr. Cleveland's character. He was like the President in that he had made no special study of economics until a consideration of the tariff was forced upon him. This seemed to him a question to be solved by common sense; and having found a solution satisfactory to his own mind, he thought he could bring others over to his way of thinking, if he reasoned with them calmly, assuming that they knew no more than he did and that they were as disinterested as he and as intelligent. Perhaps it was even an advantage to him then that he had taken to the study of this problem only a little while before, for he had thus a closer understanding of the frame of mind in which the voters were whom he wished to convince. Certainly nothing less academic can well be imagined than Bunner's discussion of the tariff. He dignified always, and direct, and plain-spoken; and above all he was persuasive—a great novelty in the dispute between protection and free-trade. Bunner held that hard words, even if they broke no bones, changed no man's opinions; and what he sought not an occasion for self-display but a chance to make converts. He met the men he addressed on their own level and with neither condescension nor affectation of superiority; and his manner invited them to talk the matter over quietly. In argument he acted on Tocqueville's maxim that "he who despises mankind will never get the best out of either others or himself." He explained that there was no cause for any excitement and that the subject was really far simpler than most people thought; and having thus won willing listeners, he set forth his own views, very clearly and with every-day illustrations.

Bunner was at first not only the editor of the journal, responsible for all that went into it, for the letterpress and for the cuts and for the mechanical make-up; he was also the chief contributor, as he had been when Mr. Rosenfeld was in charge. What a comic paper needs above all is not a group of brilliant wits sending in their best things whenever the inspiration chances to strike them; it is the steady and trustworthy writers who can be counted on regularly, week in and week out, to supply "comic copy" not below a certain average. Bunner was very much more than a mere manufacturer of "comic copy," but he could act in this capacity also when need was.

Into the broad columns of Puck during the first ten years of its existence Bunner poured an endless stream of humorous matter in prose and verse. Whatever might be wanted he stood ready to supply—rhymes of the times, humorous ballads, vers de société, verses to go with a cartoon, dialogues to go under a drawing, paragraphs pertinent and impertinent, satiric sketches of character, short stories, little comedies, nondescript comicalities of all kinds. Whatever the demand upon him he was ready and able to meet it; he had irresistible freshness and dauntless fecundity. No doubt very much of this comic journalism was no better than it pretended to be; but, on the other hand, much of it was worthy of rescue from the swift oblivion of the back number. The average was surprisingly high and the variety was extraordinary. And it is to be noted that in even the slightest specimen of Bunner's "comic copy" it was impossible not to see that the writer was a gentleman, that his not a bitter wit, and that he had always the gentle kindliness of the true humorist.

For one figure especially that Bunner evoked in those days of struggle, I had always a keen liking. That was the character of V. Hugo Dusenberry, the professional poet, prepared to ply for hire, to fill all orders promptly, to give you verse while you wait, and to write poems in every style, satisfaction guaranteed. This was a delightful conception, with a tinge of burlesque in it, no doubt, and perhaps without the restraint of Bunner's more mature art. V. Hugo Dusenberry enlivened the pages of many a number of Puck; and more than once in later years I urged on Bunner the advisability of making a selection of the professional poet's verses and of his lectures on the art; but Bunner's finer taste deemed this sketch too broad in its effects, too temporary in its allusions—in a word, too journalistic—for revival between the covers of a book. Yet he had revelled in the writing of the V. Hugo Dusenberry papers, and they gave him scope to develop his marvellous gift of parody.

It has always seemed to me that Bunner was one of the great parodists of the nineteenth century. Not Smith's "Rejected Addresses," not Thackeray's "Prize Novelists," not Mr. Bret Harte's "Condensed Novels," not Bayard Taylor's "Diversions of the Echo Club," shows a sharper understanding of the essentials of another author's art or a swifter faculty for reproducing them, than Bunner revealed in these V. Hugo Dusenberry papers, or in his "Home, Sweet Home, with variations" (now included in his "Airs from Arcady"). There are two kinds of parody, as we all know; one is a mere imitation of the external form and is commonly inexpensive and tiresome. The other is rarer and calls for an evocation of the internal spirit; and it was in the accomplishment of this that Bunner excelled. His parodies were never unfair and never unkind; they were not degraded reproductions of what another author had done, but rather imaginative suggestions as to what he might do had he chosen to treat these subjects in this way. In other words, Bunner met the author he desired to imitate on that author's own ground and tried a fall with him there. I doubt if any passage of Walt Whitman's own verse is more characteristically pathetic than the one in Bunner's "Home, Sweet Home, with variations," in which the return of the convict son is set before us with a few tense strokes. In prose he was equally felicitous, as all readers of this magazine will admit who recall the reproduction of Sterne ("A Sentimental Annex"); and as all readers of Puck will declare who remember the imitations of Mr. Frank R. Stockton and of Mr. Rudyard Kipling, in which he managed to put himself somehow into the skins of these diverse authors and to spin for us yarns of theirs of which they themselves need not have been ashamed. Readers of "Rowen" may be reminded of the airy little lyric called "Imitation," which begins:

My love she leans from the window
Afar in a rosy land;
And red as a rose are her blushes,
And white as a rose her hand,

and which ends:

This German style of poem
Is uncommonly popular now;
For the worst of us poets can do it—
Since Heine showed us how.

And yet this chameleon gift did not interfere at all with Bunner's own originality. Just as the painter studies his trade in the studio of a master, so the man of letters (whether he know it or not) is bound 'prentice to one or more of his elders in the art, from whom he learns the secrets of the craft. The acute analysis Bunner had made of the methods of other writers, aided him to recognize those most suitable for his own use, and thus his individuality was like the melancholy of Jaques, "compounded of many simples." None the less was it Bunner's own, and quite unmistakable. In verse he was in his youth a pupil of Heine's, and for a season he studied under Mr. Austin Dobson; but he would be a dull reader of "Airs from Arcady" who did not discover that in whatever workshops Bunner had spent his wander-years, he had come home with a style of his own.

So in fiction he was a close student of Boccaccio, that consummate artist in narrative. He delighted in the swiftness and in the symmetry of the best tales in the "Decameron," in their deftness of construction, in their omission of all trivial details, in their sharpness of outline. I have heard him say that when he was turning over in his mind the plot of a new story and found himself in doubt as to the best way of handling it, he was wont to take up the "Decameron," not merely for mental refreshment, but because he was certain to find in it the solution of the problem that puzzled him and to discover somewhere in Boccaccio's pages a model for the tale he was trying to tell. And yet how wide apart are the Italian's sombre or merry narratives and the American's sunny and hopeful "Love in Old Cloathes" and "As One Having Authority" and "Zadoc Pine."

When the late Guy de Maupassant (who was like Boccaccio in more ways than one) suddenly revealed his marvellous mastery of the craft of story-telling, Bunner became his disciple for awhile; and even thought to apply the Frenchman's methods to American subjects, the result being the very amusing volume called "Short Sixes." But so thoroughly had Bunner transmuted Maupassant's formulas, that he would need to be a preternaturally keen-eyed critic who could detect in this volume any sign of the American's indebtedness to his French contemporary. Perhaps a little to Bunner's surprise, no one of his books is more characteristically his own than "Short Sixes;" and perhaps this was the motive that led him afterward to produce "Made in France," in which he undertook lovingly to Americanize some half-score of Maupassant's stories, declaring in his preface that although the venture may seem somewhat bold, it was undertaken in a spirit of sincerest and faithfullest admiration for him who "must always be, to my thinking, the best of story-tellers since Boccaccio wrote down the tales he heard from women's lips." In a spirit of tricksy humor that Maupassant would have appreciated, the most French of all these ten tales, "with a United States twist," is not derived from the French, but is Bunner's own invention—a fact no reviewer of the volume ever knew enough to find out.

Like Boccaccio, and like Maupassant, Bunner succeeded best in the short story, the novella, the conte. His longer fictions are not full-fledged novels; they are rather short stories writ large. From this criticism must be excepted the first of them, an early novel, "A Woman of Honor," which was founded on an unacted play of his. He came in time to dislike the "Woman of Honor" as artificial, not to say theatrical; and it must be admitted that this youthful story lacks the firmer qualities of his later works, yet it proved that he had power to invent incident and strength to construct a plot.

There was nothing theatrical and scarcely anything that was artificial in either of the novels that followed, in "The Midge" or in "The Story of a New York House; "beautiful tales both of them; quite as ingenious as the earlier story, but far simpler in movement, and far finer in the delicacy of character-drawing. Perhaps the salient characteristics of these two brief novels are the unforced pathos the author could command at will, his sympathy with the loser in the wager of life, and his sentiment which never sickened into sentimentality. Perhaps their chief merit, in the eyes of many, was that they were novels of New York, the result of a long and loving study of this great town of ours.

It was one of Bunner's prejudices—and he was far too human to be without many of them—that New York is one of the most interesting places in the world. He enjoyed its powerful movement, its magnificent vitality. He took pleasure in observing the manners and customs of its kaleidoscopic population. He thrilled with the sense of its might to-day; and he gloried in its historic past. For himself he took pride also in that he came of an old New York stock. As he wrote in "Rowen:"

Why do I love New York, my dear?
I do not know. Were my father here—
And his—and HIS—the three and I
Might, perhaps, make you some reply.

Bunner had discovered for himself the truth of Lowell's assertion that "however needful it may be to go abroad for the study of æsthetics, a man may find here also pretty bits of what may be called the social picturesque, and little landscapes over which the Indian summer atmosphere of the past broods as sweetly and tenderly as over a Roman ruin." Noisy and restless as New York is, and blatant as it may seem to some, those who have eyes and a willingness to see, can collect specimens not only of the social picturesque, but of the physical picturesque also. Into the "Midge" and into the "Story of a New York House," Bunner put the results of his investigations into the life about us in the great city, to the most interesting manifestations of which so many of us are hopelessly blind. In the "Midge" he sketched what was then the French Quarter, lying south of "Washington Square; and in the "Story of a New York House" he showed how a home once far outside of the town was in time swallowed up as the streets advanced, and how at last it was left neglected as the district sank into disrepute; and the story of the edifice wherein the family dwelt that built it is the tragic story also of the family itself.

Not a few of Bunner's two-score short stories were also studies of human nature as it has been developed nowadays in the Manhattan environment. And not a few of them were studies of human nature as it has been developed in the semi-rural region that lies within the radius of an hour's journey from New York. In this territory are the homes of thousands whose work takes them daily to the city, while they spend their nights in the country. Bunner had an extended acquaintance with the manners and customs of the hybrid being created by the immense expansion of the metropolis; and this was in fact only self-knowledge after all, since seven or eight years before his death he had gone to dwell in the pretty village of Nutley, which he came to love dearly—and in which at last he was to die. His sense of humor was singularly acute, and he was swift to perceive the many shades of difference by which the suburban residents are set off from country people on the one hand and on the other from city folks. But his sympathy was broad here as elsewhere, and his observation of character was never harsh or hostile, whether it was the urban type he had in hand, or the suburban and semi-rural, or the truly rural.

Perhaps the ripest of his books is the most recent, "Jersey Street and Jersey Lane; Urban and Suburban Sketches." The tales and essays in this volume have not the brisk fun and the hearty comicality of "Short Sixes," but they are mellow with a more mature perception of the truth that, as Sam Slick says, "there is a great deal of nature in human nature." He had the sharp insight of a humorist, it is true, and the swift appreciation of the unexpected oddities of character; but he had in abundance also the gentle delicacy of the poet. Not that even those urban and suburban sketches are nerveless in the least, or sappy; "The Lost Child" is as vigorous in its way as even "Zadoc Pine." It is rather that the essential manliness of Bunner's writing is here accompanied by an almost feminine delicacy of feeling. And yet to praise "Jersey Street and Jersey Lane" for possessing this quality is perhaps to suggest unfairly that his other prose was without it. What I wished to convey is rather that in this last book of his the strength and the sweetness are even more harmoniously combined than in any of the earlier volumes. He had come to a mastery of his tools, and his hand worked without faltering. Even at the outset of his career as a man of letters, Bunner was not a story-teller merely by the grace of God—as is many a novelist who now and again may hold the ear of the public for a little while. He was always a devoted student of the art and mystery of narrative. He was born with the gift of story-telling, it is true; but it was by thought and by toil and by unending care that he made of himself the accomplished craftsman in fiction that he became before he died. Mention has already been made of his ceaseless study of the greatest of the old masters, Boccaccio, and of the strongest of the new models, Maupassant.

Although "Zadoc Pine," with its stalwart Americanism and its needed lesson of independence, has always been a chief favorite of my own, probably the first series of "Short Sixes" has been the most popular of all Bunner's volumes of fiction. And it is very likely that here again the broad public is right in its preference. I can see how it is that "Short Sixes" may strike many as the most characteristic of Bunner's collections of tales. In this book he is perhaps more frankly a humorist than in any other; and Bunner's humor was not biting, not saturnine, not boisterous; it was not contorted nor extravagant nor violent; it flowed freely and spontaneously. Above all, it was friendly; it blossomed out of our common human nature.

I do not think that the widespread liking for these "Short Sixes" was due chiefly to their vivacity, to their spontaneity, to their cleverness, to their originality, to their unfailing fertility of invention, to their individuality—although of course all these qualities were recognized and each helped in due proportion. I think they were taken to heart by the broad public because in them the author revealed himself most completely; because in them he showed clearly the simplicity of his own character—its transparency, so to speak; because in them could be seen abundantly his own kindliness, gentleness, toleration—in a word, his own broad sympathy even with the absurd persons he might be laughing at. Being a gentleman and a scholar, Bunner understood the ways of a man of the world and could record the sayings and doings of a woman of fashion; but being a man also and a good American, he had a liking for the plain people as well and an understanding of their habits of living and of their modes of thought. It was his fellow-man who interested Bunner above all else; and this feeling his fellow-men reciprocated.

Perhaps the chief charm of Bunner's verses is also a result of this same sympathy. As Hazlitt tells us, "Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself." Often vers de société—the English translation "society verse" is painfully inadequate—often vers de société which may meet the triple test of being brief and brilliant and buoyant is also hard and narrow and cynical. Some of Prior's best pieces are cold, and some of Praed's are chilly, to say the least. A more human warmth flushes the equally delightful stanzas of the late Frederick Locker-Lampson and of Mr. Austin Dobson. It is with these two and with Dr. Holmes that Bunner is to be classed, I think—with the Locker who wrote "At Her Window" and "To My Grandmother," the Dobson who gave us "Autonoë" and the "Drama of the Doctor's Window," the Holmes who told us of the "Last Leaf" and the "One Hoss Shay." They all three ifluenced him in the beginning; and so did Heine and Herrick.

And yet if the "Way to Arcady" was inspired directly by any older poet's verse, it is not Holmes's, nor Heine's nor Herrick's, but Shakespeare's—not the mighty Shakespeare of the great dramas, of course, but the Shakespeare of those lover's comedies, "As You Like It" and "Twelfth Night," the Shakespeare of the sugared sonnets, the Shakespeare who was the most graceful of Elizabethan lyrists. Or if it was not Shakespeare whom Bunner followed when he sang "Robin's Song" and when he took his bell and cried "A Lost Child," it was then those rivals of Shakespeare who wrote "Drink to me only with thine eyes" and "Come live with me and be my love." For a season or two Bunner's muse may have lingered in the Bohemia which is a desert country by the sea; but it was in the Forest of Arden that she soon took up her abode, and there she ranged the woodland in "the fresh fairness of the spring." And in the finest of the poems she inspired there was an out-door breeziness, a woodsy flavor, a bird-like melody. A minor poet Bunner might be, but he rarely sang in a minor key. In his lightsome lyrics there was the joy of living, the delight of loving—and I know of no notes that are less common than these among the lesser songsters of the modern choir. As he wrote me when I was preparing a paper on Mr. Dobson, the "Autonoë" of that poet "gives us the warm air of spring and the life that pulses in a girl's veins like the soft swelling of sap in a young tree. This is the same feeling that raises 'As You Like It' above all pastoral poetry;"—and I think the praise is as applicable to more than one of his own poems as it is to this lovely lyric of Mr. Dobson's. "Our nineteenth century sensibilities," he went on to say, "are so played on by the troubles, the sorrows, the little vital needs and anxieties of the world around us, that sometimes it does us good to get out into the woods and fields of another world entirely, if only the atmosphere is not chilled and rarefied by the lack of the breath of humanity."

Coleridge hailed it as a promise of genius in a young poet that he made a "choice of subjects very remote from the private interests and circumstances of the writer himself." And this must be my excuse for paying attention chiefly to the "Way to Arcady "and its fellows rather than considering the brisk and bright "society verse" which Bunner also wrote with ease and with certainty—"Forfeits, "for example, and "Candor," and "Just a Love Letter." But the merits of these polished and pointed stanzas are so obvious that they need no exposition. Yet it may be as well to suggest that even here in the "society verse," of which the formula is so monotonous, Bunner had a note of his own; he ventured his own variations. And his were no handmade verses, no mere mosaic of chipped rhymes. A gay spontaneity informed all his lighter lyrics and helped to lend them wings. His more serious quatrains, like "To a Dead Woman," and the final four lines of "Triumph," reveal no struggle for effect, no vain striving; they seem to be inevitable.

To Bunner verse was perhaps the most natural form of expression; and it is as a poet that he is most likely to linger in men's memories. I think this is the fame he would have chosen for himself, and I know how careful he was that his first book of poems should contain nothing unworthy of companionship with the best he had done. The late Frederick Locker-Lampson once asked Mr. Austin Dobson to make a choice of all his verses for a definitive edition of "London Lyrics;" but when this was done, the heart of the poet yearned over the poems Mr. Dobson had omitted, and so these were then gathered into a second volume to be called "London Rhymes." But when Bunner had arranged the poems he proposed to include in "Airs from Arcady," he consulted three friends, and he omitted from the book every line to which any one of the three had any objection to proffer; and no one of the omitted stanzas reappeared in his next volume of verse, "Bowen: Second Crop Songs."

"Airs from Arcady" was dedicated to the friend in partnership with whom he was soon to publish a book of short stories, but the final stanzas were inscribed "To Her."

. .Oh, will you ever read it true,
When all the rhymes are ended—
How much of Hope, of Love, of You,
With every verse is blended. . . .

And a little while before "The Midge" was published he was happily wedded To Her; and the dedication of every successive book of his to A. L. B. testified to the perfect happiness he found in his married life. In time children were born to him, and three of them survived him. Two of them died in infancy, and it was not long after one of these bereavements that "Bowen" was published, with these lines appended to the customary inscription:

To A. L. B.

"I put your rose within our baby's hand,
To bear back with him into Baby-land;
Your rose, you grew it—O my ever dear,
What roses you have grown me, year by year!
Your lover finds no path too hard to go
While your love's roses round about him blow.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.


The author died in 1929, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.