Tag Archives: James Russell Lowell

To the Dandelion by James Russell Lowell

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Dear common flower, that grow’st beside the way,
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,
First pledge of blithesome May,
Which children pluck, and, full of pride uphold,
High-hearted buccaneers, o’erjoyed that they
An Eldorado in the grass have found,
Which not the rich earth’s ample round
May match in wealth, thou art more dear to me
Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.

Gold such as thine ne’er drew the Spanish prow
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,
Nor wrinkled the lean brow
Of age, to rob the lover’s heart of ease;
‘Tis the Spring’s largess, which she scatters now
To rich and poor alike, with lavish hand,
Though most hearts never understand
To take it at God’s value, but pass by
The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.

Thou art my tropics and mine Italy;
To look at thee unlocks a warmer clime;
The eyes thou givest me
Are in the heart, and heed not space or time:
Not in mid June the golden-cuirassed bee
Feels a more summer-like warm ravishment
In the white lily’s breezy tent,
His fragrant Sybaris, than I, when first
From the dark green thy yellow circles burst.

Then think I of deep shadows on the grass,
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,
Where, as the breezes pass,
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways,
Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,
Or whiten in the wind, of waters blue
That from the distance sparkle through
Some woodland gap, and of a sky above,
Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.

My childhood’s earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin’s song,
Who, from the dark old tree
Beside the door, sang clearly all day long,
And I, secure in childish piety,
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
With news from heaven, which he could bring
Fresh every day to my untainted ears
When birds and flowers and I were happy peers.

How like a prodigal doth nature seem,
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
Thou teachest me to deem
More sacredly of every human heart,
Since each reflects in joy its scanty gleam
Of heaven, and could some wondrous secret show,
Did we but pay the love we owe,
And with a child’s undoubting wisdom look
On all these living pages of God’s book.

– James Russell Lowell

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The Courtin’ by James Russell Lowell

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God makes sech nights, all white an’ still
Fur ‘z you can look or listen,
Moonshine an’ snow on field an’ hill,
All silence an’ all glisten.

Zekle crep’ up quite unbeknown
An’ peeked in thru’ the winder,
An’ there sot Huldy all alone,
‘Ith no one nigh to hender.

A fireplace filled the room’s one side
With half a cord o’ wood in—
There warn’t no stoves (tell comfort died)
To bake ye to a puddin’.

The wa’nut logs shot sparkles out
Towards the pootiest, bless her,
An’ leetle flames danced all about
The chiny on the dresser.

Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung,
An’ in amongst ’em rusted
The ole queen’s arm thet gran’ther Young
Fetched back from Concord busted.

The very room, coz she was in,
Seemed warm from floor to ceilin’,
An’ she looked full ez rosy agin
Ez the apples she was peelin’.

‘Twas kin’ o’ kingdom-come to look
On seek a blessed cretur,
A dogrose blushin’ to a brook
Ain’t modester nor sweeter.

He was six foot o’ man, A 1,
Clean grit an’ human natur’;
None couldn’t quicker pitch a ton
Nor dror a furrer straighter.

He’d sparked it with full twenty gals,
He’d squired ’em, danced ’em, druv ’em,
Fust this one, an’ then thet, by spells—
All is, he couldn’t love ’em.

But long o’ her his veins ‘ould run
All crinkly like curled maple,
The side she breshed felt full o’ sun
Ez a south slope in Ap’il.

She thought no v’ice hed sech a swing
Ez hisn in the choir;
My! when he made Ole Hunderd ring,
She knowed the Lord was nigher.

An’ she’d blush scarlit, right in prayer,
When her new meetin’-bunnet
Felt somehow thru’ its crown a pair
O’ blue eyes sot upun it.

Thet night, I tell ye, she looked some!
She seemed to ‘ve gut a new soul,
For she felt sartin-sure he’d come,
Down to her very shoe-sole.

She heered a foot, an’ knowed it tu;
A-raspin’ on the scraper,—
All ways to once her feelin’s flew
Like sparks in burnt-up paper.

He kin’ o’ l’itered on the mat,
Some doubtfle o’ the sekle,
His heart kep’ goin’ pity-pat,
But hern went pity Zekle.

An’ yit she gin her cheer a jerk
Ez though she wished him furder,
An’ on her apples kep’ to work,
Parin’ away like murder.

‘You want to see my Pa, I s’pose?’
‘Wal…no…I come dasignin”—
‘To see my Ma? She’s sprinklin’ clo’es
Agin to-morrer’s i’nin’.’

To say why gals acts so or so,
Or don’t, ‘ould be presumin’;
Mebby to mean yes an’ say no
Comes nateral to women.

He stood a spell on one foot fust,
Then stood a spell on t’other,
An’ on which one he felt the wust
He couldn’t ha’ told ye nuther.

Says he, ‘I’d better call agin;’
Says she, ‘Think likely, Mister;’
Thet last word pricked him like a pin,
An’… Wal, he up an’ kist her.

When Ma bimeby upon ’em slips,
Huldy sot pale ez ashes,
All kin’ o’ smily roun’ the lips
An’ teary roun’ the lashes.

For she was jes’ the quiet kind
Whose naturs never vary,
Like streams that keep a summer mind
Snowhid in Jenooary.

The blood clost roun’ her heart felt glued
Too tight for all expressin’,
Tell mother see how metters stood,
And gin ’em both her blessin’.

Then her red come back like the tide
Down to the Bay o’ Fundy,
An’ all I know is they was cried
In meetin’ come nex’ Sunday.

– James Russell Lowell