Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/161

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43
THE READING-CLUB.

Biting shorter the short green grass,
And a hedge of sumach and sassafras,
With bluebirds twittering all around,—
(Ah, good painter, you can't paint sound!)—
These, and the house where I was born,
Low and little, and black and old,
With children, many as it can hold,
All at the windows, open wide,—
Heads and shoulders clear outside,
And fair young faces all a-blush:
Perhaps you may have seen, some day,
Roses crowding the selfsame way,
Out of a wilding wayside bush.

Listen closer.When you have done
With woods and cornfields and grazing herds,
A lady the loveliest ever the sun
Looked down upon, you must paint for me.
Oh, if I only could make you see
The clear blue eyes, the tender smile,
The sovereign sweetness, the gentle grace,
The woman's soul, and the angel's face
That are beaming on me all the while!—
I need not speak these foolish words:
Yet one word tells you all I would say,—
She is my mother: you will agree
That all the rest may be thrown away.

Two little urchins at her knee
You must paint, sir: one like me,—
The other with a clearer brow,
And the light of his adventurous eyes
Flashing with boldest enterprise:
At ten years old he went to sea,—
God knoweth if he be living now,—
He sailed in the good ship Commodore:
Nobody ever crossed her track
To bring us news, and she never came back.
Ah, 'tis twenty long years and more
Since that old ship went out of the bay
With my great-hearted brother on her deck;
I watched him till he shrank to a speck,
And his face was toward me all the way.