Tucker, Mary E.
|A BROADWAY IDYL|
She speaks her greeting with a pleading grace.
No word from him: naught save a smile of
Alone she stands--he with the tide moves on.
All color from the flushing cheeks now dies,
Hands press her heart to stifle woe's deep cries.
And onward, moved by demon of despair,
She braves the "king of terrors" in his lair.
Say, is she saved? Will the grim spectre,
Take from her more than life's short fleeting
breath?18Doom her to endless misery of mind,
Leaving a tainted name behind?
Men swell the current,--many of them wear
Upon their brows the cruel badge of care.
The magic Greenback, like some rolling ball,
Gathers the man-moss, hurls them into "Wall."( 3 )
Each eager face in passing seems to say--
"Chasing a dollar, comrades, clear the way!
I am ambitious, and I fain would win:
Would gain the dollar even if I sin."
And oft, alas, in raging lust for gold,
Life's cup is broken, and a soul is sold!19Some push along with satisfaction's air,
While others wear the visage of despair.
Some, looking forward, in perspective see
When their one dollar shall ten thousand be.
Some glancing upward, building in the sky
Bright airy castles soon to fade and die:
While sad-faced men look backward and pass on
Cursing the day that they were born.
For empty pockets helmets woes untold,
And friends and comfort vanish with our gold.
Then should we wonder that the trash is sought,
With which e'en friendship is oft sold and
bought?20There, mark the difference in the prosperous man,
And one who gains existence as he can--
One with his head erect, the other bowed,
The poor are humble, but the rich are proud.
Hark! surely there is music in the air!
'Tis "Dixie" floating on this Northern breeze.
Thrilling each Southern heart with thoughts
Of a lost Nation's hope, and her despair.
This world is strange, 'tis an anomaly!
For glancing downward now I see
A one-armed soldier, in a coat of blue--
And, by-the-by, his legs are missing too,21Grinding with his one hand the "Dixie" song.
Perchance, who knows, that very tune was
When in the midst of some mad martial raid
The missile came along
Which left of noble manhood but the wreck.
Now, standing by his side, is one
I know, a warrior, brave for Southern rights:
All strife is ended, and all warring done.
And the blue-clad soldier's eyes seem dancing
As in his hand the Southern warrior places22His mite; true, 'tis a small donation,
But it betrays the great appreciation
Of a brave soul, for spirit kindred born.( 4 )
Now "Yankee Doodle" falls upon my ear,
Then "Erin's Wearing of the Green" I hear;
And as the human current moves along,
I read their Nation as each hears the song--
For faces speak, and eyes will tell the truth:
When Memory, with swift electric string,
Draws Past to Present, on sweet music's wing.
A tear in manhood's eye is no disgrace,
And pity lends a charm to every face.23Statesmen, the satellites of Fame,
Are mingling with the throng,
Some heart sore with a Nation's blame,
Some charmed by the Siren song
Of present popularity.
Ah me! how changes tide with time,
Public opinion is as vacillating
As seasons are, forever on the change.
Warm, temperate, cold, in changing only true,
Of like some serpent, with its roseate hue,
Of commendation, luring on its victim
E'en to death; who wounded by the sting
Of misconception, like the poor snail,24Shrinks in his shell, and starving for frame, Dies in obscurity.
New eyes are mine--I see as ne'er before;
Not forms alone, as in the days of yore,
But acts--sing long untold--
And acts of mercy to my gaze unfold.
I see too, lives of men,
And step by step, I trace some back to when
With ragged jacket, hatless head, and feet
Frozen and bare, they wandered in the street,
With hope, ambition, faith within their hearts,
Whose dirty faces bore the stamp of Man25God's own insignia, neither wealth nor fame,
Nor right by birth to high ancestral name,
Can grant such priceless boon.
The glory be to him who can declare
I am the founder of the name I bear.
Not the last scion of the great of earth,
But first; the hour which gave me birth
Shall be remembered, until time shall be
Lost in the mazes of Eternity.
One word of praise, and it is nobly won
For him who said, "I will win for my Son
A name all glorious and bright."( 5 )26Censorious world! oh why not o'er the past
Oblivion's vail in its soft darkness cast
And honor grant, for what one is not was.
Our City rulers pass in grand array,
Some whose each step pollutes this snowy way
Whose nervous glances tell that they have sold
Their honor for position and for gold.
Others, whose pure lives can command
Respect, aye love, of all e'en in this land,
Where merit's granted but to favored few.
Our present Mayor, with abstracted air,
Comes with kind greeting, for high, low and fair.27In each heart holds he a much envied place,
And his position fills with nameless grace.
And yet he bears upon his brow the badge
Of hope deferred, Ambition's goal half won--
The race for station only just begun.( 6 )
His rival follow, and determination
Within his eye shows will to do, or dare--
Not only will, but power,
Dame Nature's priceless dower.
From very foot the mount of fame he trod:
Sprung from the people, he's the people's god.( 7 )
And Authors, too, the devils of the quill,28Who daily, hourly their poor brains distil:
Exalted, trampled by the public will;
And yet they cater, and will cater still,
Undaunted by the missiles hurled
Each day by a censorious world.
Some with their faces beaming bright
See in their eyes success' light;
Some who on yesterday were naught,
To-day they find themselves the sought
And courted, for their genius bright,
Made by the " Nation ,"
Growing like Jonah's gourd all in a night.29And some poor sinner who awoke
From dream of fame, alas to find
His fancy's child, child of his mind,
Dammed by the critics,
Or unnoticed passed.
Ah, well, when he is dead, perchance his name
May live forever, immortalized by fame.
Such is the world's great largess to the dead,
The genius who when living wanted bread.
'Tis marvellous how mortals can invent
The ways and means to increase worldly stores.
Scorn not beginnings, and each small thing prize,30From e'en a cord,( 8 ) sometimes large fortunes
Yon apple-woman, vender of small wares,
Stale lozenges, fruit, candy, and vile cakes,
Who sells to urchins pennies' worth of aches,
Has now the gold safe hoarded in the bank,
With which to buy high place in fashion's rank.
Merit is nothing, money rules the day
Right royally, with rare despotic sway.
Something familiar comes before me now,
A picture of the Southern cotton-plant.
Broadway to-day, with its white glittering shield,