Fordham, Mary Weston
In a far off hamlet near the sea
Where billows oft, in days of storm, and
Nights of darkness rush reckless to the shore;
Where tall, white cliffs like watchmen keep
A life-long vigil; Oft when the morning
Sunbeams gild their lofty peaks they seem
Like massive crystal vases adorned with
Rays of gold.
Hard-by those snowy cliffs,
Shielded safe from cutting winds and icy
Blasts, stood an humble, unpretending cot,
Its low, thatched roof of matted moss
Glimmered, when the morning sun brightened
Up the valley, and cast its rays aslant through
The tiny windows ignorant of glass. Its well-
Scrubbed floor shone like polished wood;
And all around an air of quiet, peace and
Within that cosy nest, there
Dwelt three loving hearts, Nay, four, for on the
Very morn when Christmas bells were
Ringing o'er the land, When children of the rich
And children of the poor alike, were talking
Of the Christ-child, and his day, Unto them a
Child was given, And this lovely babe, blest Christmas
Gift,--was richly prized. E'en now she knew her
Father's voice, and leaped with joy at his return.
But ah! the cry of war, broke o'er the land. Cruel
War, that rends the households and the hearts;
That makes fond bosoms bleed; and waters all
The sod with tears, Salty, agonizing tears, which,
When they dry, leave furrows never healing.--
Sorrows, never ceasing.
The mandate came.--
Marco must go. What! leave the dear ones all
Alone. The gray-haired sire sunning himself
Without the cottage door? The little wife in
Blooming womanhood? The cherub who in
Human form had come to bless his home?39Must he leave his treasures and away to
Distant shores, perchance, lay down to die?
O! the thought was death itself. Yet go he
Must. Each day he'd wander through the glade,
Where every blade and tuft of grass was dear,
So dear. All his life from babe to manhood,
Here was spent. Here he grew, and loved,
And wedded. Here the precious Mother in her
Green old age had yielded to the sharp scythe
Of the Reaper Death. Could he leave her?
The day of
Parting came. The sun was high when Marco
Rose. The cheery little table decked with snowy
Cloth was laid. Out from their frugal hoard
Came every dainty Uranne could find.
Naught was too good for him. The dear, the
Faithful! He who had done all in human power
To make her life joyous. Truly, she said, as tears
Lingered in her eyes, "My lines in pleasant places
Have been cast."
Well long they tarried o'er that
Meal. It seemed as though 'twould never end,
And yet they were not eating. At last the babe
Stretched forth its chubby hands and with
Infantile speech, broke up the silent meal.
Father, adieu. Take care of these as best thou40Can'st. I know the load is much too great for
Thee. Whose silvery hairs are whitening o'er with
Do all thou can'st and leave the rest to "Him
Who notes when e'en the sparrows fall."
And now, Uranne! truest and best, I can
Not give thee any more my heart, for thou had'st
It all long ago. Thy love to me has been like
Silver lining 'mid the clouds of life.
Has opened up my heart to kindlier feelings
For all who on this earth have naught to cheer,
To solace them in hours like these.
But time doth
Fly. Whether the moments teem with joy or
Flit in sorrow. So Marco said, e're yet I go,
Take this bunch of half-blown buds and place
Upon your breast, near your heart, and wear
Them till I come. Let naught divide 'twist
Thee and them. 'Mid summer's glow or winter's
Cold, loved one, wear them next thy heart.
Their very name, Forget-Me-Not, will 'mind.
Thee of thy lover-husband.
Months passed by. No tidings yet had
Come to them, in that lone village by the sea,
Ofttimes the sire would hand-in-hand take41Baby for a walk "by the sad, sea waves"--
Then would the little one pick up shells
And moss, and lisp so sweetly with
Infantile grace, that the aged form would
Straighten up, as if once more the fires of youth
Burned brightly in his veins; and his old
Bereaved heart would leap for joy.
Alas! when early
Spring had come, and the little snowdrops
Gleamed in the valley, little Bright-eyes
Faded and was laid beneath them.
O! then the sun went down in blackness grim,
And the whole world seemed devoid of life;
Not worth living, the old man cried. And
Then he, too, alas! was laid beside the babe.
All through the long-
, Long summer lonely Uranne dwelt. Her heart
Low down beneath the Daisies. Uranne, the
Pride of him who now, alas! was no more. Perchance
He too was sleeping in that far-off land,
Without a kindly hand to smooth his aching
Brow, or wipe from his cheeks the damp
One morning when the dew
Had not yet left the sodden grass,
She left the cot to look for her beloved.
She sat her down 'mid the dingy rocks, which
Girt the shore. The little ripples kissed her feet
Caressingly. Long she looked for a white sail,
To greet her tired eyes.
Marco, dost hear Uranne's
Call? Wilt thou no more return? My heart is
Breaking with its load. No longer can I wait,--
But list! I'll whisper in thine ear,--
The blue "Forget-Me-Nots,
The sweet Forget Me Nots" which thou
Did'st place upon my breast. Thou wilt see them
When thou com'st. None shall them remove.
Sweetheart, I keep them till you come.
There they found her cold
And stark. With hand pressed close to heart
Where lay her flowers. The sounding sea seemed
To forget to hurl its billows 'gainst the beach
Now white and shining. E'en the little ripples
Seemed to say, Uranne! And the great
Mountain rocks would echo back, Uranne!
Years went by. The war, the
Cruel war was at an end. And Peace with
Flowing mantle had overspread the land;--
With anxious heart, but willing feet, the
Soldier started for his dear old cabin nestled
So snugly in the valley. Would he find them all?43The dear old sire with his silvered hair--Perchance
He had lain him down to sleep, beside the wife
Who had left him in his prime.
But she, the dear
Uranne, she was there, no doubt of that. A stronger,
Healthier lass ne'er spun the dance.
Then the baby, our baby. How she must have
Grown. Wonder if she remembers me, her own dear
Sire? Who oft would soothe and rock to sleep.
O yes; Uranne has taught her to love and lisp
When the proud vessel dropped her
Anchor in the Bay, no prouder man, nor
Hopeful, than was Marco. Lightly he sprang
Ashore. He looked to right, to left, no sign of
His loved ones cheered his gaze.
Uranne, he cried, what! no welcome for Marco?
No outstretched arms to fold me in love's embrace?
He tottered to the cot all overgrown with
Weeds and trailing vines. O! stars above write
On hardest stone, Desolate, forlorn--alone.
Unconsciously he moved along the lane
That led to the old church-yard. The little
Tuneful bell that had pealed so joyously
On his marriage eve, was silent now.
He saw no one, nor questions asked. But
Slowly crept to where three mounds were
Raised all side by side. He closely scanned
Them all, when lo! upon the longest grave,
A beauteous tuft of blue Forget-Me-Nots--
Aha! he cried, my bright, my blue Forget-Me-Nots!
My flowers which I placed upon her breast,
And bid her wear till we should meet again,
My faithful one. The seeds matured on thy
Dear bosom, nourished by thine own mortality,
Pushed their way to the sunlight of earth, To
Cheer and to 'mind of faithful love,
Love which lasts even after the gates of
Death are passed. Then he wailed the whole
Day long: Come, O! come! Uranne, come!
Like my flowers, leave your bed, too dark too
Drear for thee. Uranne, come to me!
Or I will come to thee!
There they found him, there they laid him,
With his flowers and Uranne.