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Dayton, Ohio - An Intimate History
Chapter Sixteen





The wind bloweth where it listeth and so does the spirit of poetry. In obscure localities far from the intellectual centers; from unexpected sources, come real treasures of lyric thought. It has been so in Dayton and it has been thought wise to collect and preserve some of these verses now quite buried in the scrapbooks of the past. If, in this chapter, some be found which do not quite reach the heights of the divine afflatus, they are, at least, pleasing to read and most of them breathe the spirit of Dayton.

Several teachers have written verse and found acceptance by the magazines. Among them, Leila Ada Thomas, for years on the staff of Steele High School and later at the head of a private school of her own, is easily the leader. Many people in Dayton, now middle-aged and parents of pupils, will read  with a warm and poignant remembrance Miss Thomas’ lovely lines.


                        AT  THE  CLOSE  OF  SCHOOL


The day has come, the hour has struck,

And friends have gathered here to see,

While I, with mother-heart intent

Upon the bright young crescent bent

The stage across, single out thee,

     My pretty girl!


There’s none that stands so straight and strong,

A type of woman at her best;

There’s none that has so sweet a face,

Where now the simple child I trace

And now the woman, unconfessed;

     My pretty girl!


My eyes of brown, my sunny hair,

For all that’s yours is mine, dear heart;

Mine is your future as your past,

Oh daughter of myself a part!

     My pretty girl!


Came ever from more silvery tongue

The  poet’s message, glad, serene?

Could one look on I think he’d say

She is the poem herself today,

Calling the doves neath maples green –

     My pretty girl –


My thoughts caress white gown, white hands,

And kiss the roses of your cheek,

And while a sudden stab I feel, -

Who is the lover that will kneel

And beg your maiden lips to speak,

     My pretty girl –


Where does he win his laurels now

To drop one day at Amy’s feet,

Where does he strike temptation dead,

With dragon sins his sword make red?

Oh baby daughter, clinging, sweet,

     My pretty girl –


I feel your head against my arm,

Your downy head so round and small;

Suppose this lover should be rough

Should wear like frieze my silken stuff?

The tears upon my program fall,

                       My pretty girl!


After Miss Thomas had been a successful teacher for many years she went back to her own alma mater, Wheaton Seminary, Norton, Massachusetts, where at an alumnae anniversary she read the following ode. The date is not recorded but it could not have been later than 1885.


                     IN  MEDIAS  RES.


Over the old school’s dull discolored walls

The loving lingering light of evening falls.

I sit upon the step where once I sat

With  flitting girl thoughts touching this and that.

Alas, they’re clipped, those winged airy things!

On a low branch my fancy broods and sings.

Where is the buoyant life that comes and goes,

Throat like a lily-bud and cheek that glows,

The curling tendril lock of loosened hair

And all that makes sixteen so dear and fair?


Where is the wave that breaks upon the rock

Shattered to diamond drops by deadly shock?

Never again its glory and its might

Leaps into air defiant – sinks to sight.

But in the azure offing lo, another

Like as a crested bird is to its brother

Lifts up its head and creeps and steps and strides

The silent cliff in laughing strength derides

Then bends and breaks – is gone – too late, too late

He pauses who is face to face with fate.


And so they ebb and flow, and ebb and flow,

Your class and mine, the merry, mad and slow,

The “dig” upon her Latin verb intent

The wag with mind on mischief solely bent,

The plodder, patient though her brains be thick,

The brilliant rocket and the heavy stick,

“The king is dead” into one ear you whisper,

“Long live the king” shouts some sweet eighth-grade lisper

Close to the other. Ah, ‘twas ever so.


With these who count their rosary of years

Well pleased to think that scarce a score appears

Spectators we, the school-yard mimic stage

Where stalk about or fume or pine or rage

The actors of a farce. This is their day

And here a  wondrous transformation see,

Arabian knights become a verity.

The shallow girl who dresses never fit,

By swift degrees, now here, now there a bit,

Is changed into a blushing bright-eyed vision,

Who bends on you a glance and smile elysian;

How dazzling sweet knows well the school-boy lover

But whence the charm or why he can’t discover.


And while she gathers without rhyme or reason

New loveliness from every lavish season

The sun of summer and the frost of winter

Deft maids who stand with harmless rouge to tint her;

For him, the boy, they’re squires, he being their knight

To arm him well men tend him to the fight.

Long-limbed and awkward first he meets your  view,

The butt of others and his own jest too,

But once without the school-room’s prison space

Feels he the green turf underneath his feet,

As he springs the swift-hurled ball to meet,

Or where the river curving round the town

Catches the flakes of fire the sun drops down,

He dips his paddle in the ruddy wave

And bids his light canoe her thin side lave.


He is no lout, and you, as justice asks,

Review him at his play and not his tasks,

So gains he strength with every flying hour,

Knots the tense muscles, spreads the chest, the power

To strike and hurt, to speak and be obeyed

Because some fellow-being feels afraid,

A new temptation and a new source of pride,

Has, like the shield of old its better side.

God grant the vigor of that young right arm

Be only used to save the weak from harm.


Spectators we? Forgive the term, I pray;

I fling the useless simile away.

To look, applaud or censure, then forget,

The gay dress-circle in its place is set.

Nor, as the masters of an earlier day

Whose scholars only knew one word – “obey”!

Not so we watch the growing girl or boy

Part of their pain and parcel of their joy,

Grieved at their failure, glad in their success,

Trying to lift the burden when its stress

Too much for weak and unformed shoulders proves.

If we grow sluggish and slip into grooves,

Or the tongue somehow gets a trick of scolding

When grave rebuke is all the heart is holding

When young blood routing through two decades

Leads into mischief erst submissive maids

Or studious lads, we try to make the best

Of  things, this too must happen with the rest.


You do not find, my pupils, when the embers

Of memory you stir, what one remembers

Those trifles?  They’re the spurts of violet flame

That sink into the crevice whence they came.

Only the steady glow of purpose true

Remains – the noble thing we wished to do.

We judge each other not by what we did,

But by what we meant. The rest with love is hid.
And yet – you’d have me be an honest bard!

No purpose and no aim – that made it hard!

No love – that’s harder still – nay do not blow

The coals; they’re dead. Best leave them lying so.


We cannot tell to what far lands you’ve wandered,

Whether your wealth of youth you’ve saved or squandered

But O strong man and child-encircled mother,

Come back and bring the courage you, no other,

Can  give the weary teacher. In your faces,

Fine with all womanly and manly graces,

She sees the finished work and turns to put

The  chisel to the rough block at her foot.


Come ye no more? ye others gone so long?

Hushed eloquent tongue, hushed liquid voice in song.

Vanished the smile that never failed to greet

The  teacher in the cold and careless street.

Once through the door for the last time ye went,

What need had ye of rest? Ye were not bent

With toil? Ye were not jaded, surely yet

As we at noon with the day’s ceaseless fret!


Come ye no more? Ye come, with message mild

Standing between me and the restless child,

Finger on lip and soft restraining hand,

Murmuring  patience, check the harsh command.

So not in vain – and yet to see one craves

More  than the hoar grass stirring in their graves.

Courage and patience! This is our high emprise,

Not with things poor or mean or short-lived lies;

Souls are our stuff for working. Let him sneer

To whom such clay ignoble doeth appear,

While he on frail gilt baubles spends his prime,

He  for eternity and we for time.


Over the old school’s dull discolored walls

The long gray garment of the twilight falls.

A swallow darts across the fading sky,

The breeze that waits the day’s close ‘gins to sigh

But on the waving tip of yonder tree

The golden light of evening still I see,

Tender and soft as if the great sun shone

For that young spray and for that spray along.

  • DaytonJournal






                                    SAMUEL  C.  WILSON

Superintendent Dayton Schools, 1873


                                      SLEEP  AND  REST


Tossed on the waves along the shores of Sleep,

The winds of Thought still blow me here and there

While the treacherous currents from the sea of Care

Retard me from the port of Slumbers deep;

While ghostly Hours in grim procession creep,

With closed eyes I see those gardens fair,

Where grow the poppy and the lotos rare

For whose delicious balm I almost weep.


Oh Nature give me rest, or let me gaze

For one brief moment on the Gorgon’s eyes,

That changed to stone, quick as the lightning flies

I find an end to weary nights and days.


Turn me to marble and I shall be blest

For I desire a thousand years of rest.

  • DaytonJournal





 A  Lament  for  my  Alpenstock


At Basle I bought an alpenstock

But threw it from me at Lucerne

Because to climb each mount and rock

I found some “trap” to serve my turn,

   A diligence or swift coupe

   To  speed me up the rugged way.


I went by rail to Righi’s top

Without bruised limbs or aching bones,

And therefore had no need to stop

To breathe or dodge the rolling stones;

   But still I dearly rue the day

   I threw my alpenstock away.


Up Jungfrau and the Matterhorn

I went as far as tourists ride,

To venture more provokes my scorn,

There’s danger on the mountain side;

   And yet I dearly rue the day

   I threw my alpenstock away.


I rode a mule up Montanvert

And gazed my fill on Mer de Glace,

Then safely in a sedan chair

To the Chapeau I dared to pass,

   But all the same I rue the day

   I threw my alpenstock away.


For there were other heights to climb,

Of  which I did not dream or know,

That wearied more and took more time

Than hills of pine or mounts of snow;

   A stranger in the land of Tell,

   I did not know the land of Tell.


The Grand Hotel der Schweizerhof,

The Grand Hotel d’Angleterre,

The Grand Hotel der Deutscherhof,

The Grand Hotel Dotmakesemschwerre,

    The Grand Hotel of seven flights

    That almost rivals mountain heights.


The Grand Hotel of seven flights

With which the country doth abound,

And yet to reach its sleepy heights

No elevator can be found;

    No elevator night or day

    To  help you up the lofty way.


And so without the slightest aid

And climb for hours the marble stair

And stop to rest at every grade,

The while you inly (only?) groan and swear,

   And therefore do I rue the day

   I threw my alpenstock away.


Ah, had I now my alpenstock

I would not carve thereon the name

Of any glacier, mount or rock

Which I have climbed for fun or fame;

   But I would carve exceeding well

   The name of every Grand Hotel


Wherein I lodged a single night

And where I climbed the marble stair

Until I reached the topmost flight

That alpine guides would scarcely dare

   The Grand Hotel der Dundengrat,

   The  Grand Hotel Angstkummen-Matt.


The Grand Hotel der Schweizerhof,

The Grand Hotel d’Angleterre,

The Grand Hotel der Deutscherhof,

The Grand Hotel Dotmakesemschwerre,

   Ah, bitterly I  rue the day

   I threw my alpenstock away!

                                                - DaytonJournal







                       Last  Night


          Last night, last night

An unknown god laid stone hands on my heart.

     Bade it be friendly wise but wisdom cold.

He set my eyes still further wide apart

     And blinded them and taught them to behold,

          Last night!


          Last night, last night

Ghost god of very god stood by my bed.

     He bade me rise up conscious of the hour

And sing his wonder to the living dead

     If need! But still to sing and sing with power

          Last night!


          Last night, last night

Calm as the mood of mountains rising sheer

     Motionless in might that almost beauty is

He warned me of the music of the sphere

     And let me touch his lyre! He did all this

          Last night!


          Last night, last night

Because of him, I sang the end of things,

     Being at the beginning without fear

Or hope, a voice amongst a cry of beings

     That speechless spoke a language calm and clear

          Last night, last night! – All night!

  • The New York Herald-Tribune





                                                LAUS  STELLARUM


September night! And morning coming and thin rain

   Drifting it down and down upon the deck,

And dew, pearled drop on drop within your hair, and pain

Between us – and through the water like slow flame

   Old Sirius the Dog Star, fleck on fleck

Of scattering scarlet! Then the silence, then the same


Reverberate still runnelling of the water,

   The splash of schools of bluefish and the grim

Dark chariot movement of the storm clouds! O, Daughter

Of the Stars, lover of the night’s bright moonless weather,

   What secrets were you whispering when that slim

September dawn slew us and all the stars together?

  • The Bookman







(Nineteen hundred and one)


A century is dead; but friendships live;

   These reckon not by years,

But reach, if strong and true

   As ours for you,

Beyond time’s boundaries that men conceive,

Survive all woes, outlast our smiles and tears.


A century is born; we shall not stay

   To see its glorious end;

Still let us hold,

   Though we grow gray and old,

A memory of every precious day

When  each the other knew as loyal friend.





                         THE  GHOST  OF  THINGS  UNDONE

                  To Charles B. Stivers


“There needs no ghost my lord, come from the grave to tell us this.”

  • Hamlet



When sleep hath sealed the eyelids fast:

When some dear friend hath from us fled;

What standest with us by the dead

And saith, “Why held ye to the last,

The meed of worth, the gift well won?

                          -  It is the Ghost of Things Undone!


Today we gaze upon the face,

Serene beneath the veil of death;

And sigh regret with every breath,

That we had found nor time nor place

To tell him of the love he’d won;

    - We pay the Ghost of Things Undone!


Our chorus thousand-lipped accord

Belated praise beside this bier;

Alas our Captain does not hear;

Deaf to our all too tardy words,

He knows the higher verdict won,

   The voice eternal says, “Well Done”!

  • DaytonHerald




       THE  TALE  OF  TAFT


Out through the glorious Golden Gate

The stately ship was heading straight

   For harbors oriental;

While bending o’er her larboard rail

A mighty form with visage pale

   Was  bowed in anguish mental.

His noble brow was dripping damp,

He writhed as one who suffers cramp

   And  finds no present solace.

Who can this be, so very ill?

It is – as Loomis called him – “Bill”

     The  same who walloped Wallace.


“To leave my native land,” he cried,

“And venture to the other side,

   Oh why was I so ready?

Now I am gone, that smooth Galoot

(And yet I love him) Mr. Root,

   Will  get right next to Teddy.


While I am on the ocean blue

That dear persuasive Elihu

   Will  be the Big Casino.

I wish” and here his face he hid

“I’d stayed right there upon the lid

   Oh, d-n the Filipino”!


And then he heaved a heavy sigh,

For since the waves were rolling high

   “Twas all he had for heaving;

Then calling on his native pride

The seasick secretary cried

   “This is no time for grieving;

Let Teddy and his New York pal

Build that old Panama Canal,

   And if they do ignore me;

Chief Justice I shall be some day,

And won’t there be the deuce to pay

   When I get Root before me?”


But while he mused, the noble ship

Began (as landsmen say) to tip,

   This noble ship “Manchuria”;

“Now should we drown, it seems to me

The case presented then would be

   Damnum  absque  injuria.”

Loud cried the Captain, “Mister Taft,

Please shift yourself most quickly aft,

   Our danger is terrific;

Your weight has listed her to port

Soon you may hold your Supreme Court

   Way down in the Pacific.”


The Secretary moved with haste

And stowed himself within the waist

   Of the half-foundered vessel;

And while the still-careening craft

Swam on her side the contrite Taft

   With doubts began to wrestle;

“Why should  these people all be drowned

Because  of my four hundred pound?

  Oh would that I could doff it!

I think I’ll float right back to shore

And when I strike that lid once more

   I never will get off it.”


Just here the thread of this sea-tale

Is lost, but did our hero fail

  In  his most bold endeavor?

Ah no, for ere the week was done

We find him back in Washington

   The same Dear Bill as ever.

He hies him to the White House straight

And, tho’ the hour is somewhat late,

   He passes through the portals,

To find the President in tears

For wireless as it appears

   Had  placed Taft with th’ immortals.


“Oh Bill,” exclaims the President,

“My heart with grief was sorely rent,

   I was bowed down with sorrow;

Root has another trip for you

With Perry to the Pole to go,

   He starts, I think, tomorrow.”

“Nay Theodore, I shall not go

Into that land of ice and snow

   On  any exploration.

I’ll just stay here, watch Root and you,

And do the best that I can do

   To  get that nomination.”


Now dear William, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On a lid outside the palace, just beyond the White House door,

And his eyes have all the seeming of a candidate that’s scheming,

Of a candidate that’s dreaming of the next convention score;

While he mutters “I have got ‘em if they take two ballots more.”

  • DaytonHerald





                   A  Few  of  Us


(Read  before the Banquet of the Dayton Bar, 1891.)


Shall time roll on and added years

  Bring baldness and decay?

And shall the glories of our Bar

  Forever fade away?


Shall those who move among us now

  Beloved for virtues many

All without record be dismissed

  As though they hadn’t any?


No, say we all, the Muse must sing

  In strains both just and true

And while she can’t include us all,

  Touch up a favored few.


And if, forsooth she over-vault

  In any way the line,

Remember, brethren, that the fault

  Is hers along, not mine.




From high Parnassus winging swift my flight,

I start in quest of victims for my verse;

Now on the Dayton Court House I alight,

I can’t do better and I might do worse.

Judges and lawyers busy go and come

Here clients, witnesses and jurors are,

I’ll fold my wings and make myself at home

While  I remark upon the Dayton Bar.

How shall I choose when all have equal merit?

All are so wise, so learned in the Law?

Time is too precious and I cannot spare it,

Only a few the pictures I may draw.


On drowsy summer afternoon, when slow

The heated wanderer pauses on his way,

He dozes as he walks and dreams, when lo!

A mighty sound he hears that bids him stay –

“Ha! Ha! Ha! Whe-e-e!  It echoes loud and long

The startled dreamer knows there’s something wrong –

And when he asks believes not more than half

That noise was only Boltin’s laugh.

The Judge has heard a “new one” and straightway,

 He puts a card, “Back Soon” upon the door

And goes to tell his friends, who, let me say,

Have  heard that “new one” just a month before.

But still they listen gladly, for full well

They love to wake the Judge’s laughing tone

Although the story that he stops to tell

Has whiskers on it long as Judge’s own.

Call him not old, that beard is all a sham,

His heart is young although his hair be white

And they do say that, very often, Sam

Takes that beard off when he goes out at night.


Who is this now, English in form and face,

Happy in diction in each phrase felicitous,

Treat him with deference, keep in his good grace

If for posthumous fame you are felicitous,

On any theme his ready pen ne’re halts,

Though he prefers the subject epitaphic,

In generous words covers one’s obvious faults

Or sets one’s virtues forth in manner graphic

And, though he writes on every topic well,

Though he adorns each – be it grave or merry,

His real strength, as any one can tell,

Lies  in solemn form obituary.

He is a Latin scholar too, that tongue being dead

He ought to know it – I don’t mean to flatter –

But they do say that out of his own head

He got that line “Justiciae Dedicata” –

Alas he goes – his loss we much deplore

But he’s promoted from the narrow forum

And for two years (he’ll try to make it four)

He’ll help to swell a Democratic quorum.

And when some statesman, dropping from the ranks,

Leaves for a world celestial – or infernal,

Houk will be there (he’ll take along his blanks)

To  write the truth and spread it on the Journal.*

Who comes, with gracious word and courtly air –

Clearing his throat, a most portentous sound,

Mounts with a youthful step the Court House stair

While an admiring throng collects around?

This is the advocate whose skillful tongue

Captures the jury, listening delighted

Until each man is wondering to himself

Why in the world the prisoner was indicted.


How many hard-fought struggles hath he won,

How many witnesses hath made turn pale,

Now that at last his fighting days are done

How many more poor devils are in jail!

Him we all know – beloved by us all,

Long may he live, an honor to the Bar,

Light may these latter years upon him fall,

May all his battles leave no lasting scar.


Some lawyers make a specialty of corporation law –

Some always know the men who die or fail –

And some are railroad lawyers, who get that name you know

Because  they travel constantly by rail.

You meet our brother Gottschall, he has his little grip,

He’s off for New York, Boston or the West;

He’s always just about to take a flying business trip,

We wonder when he finds time to rest.

He is a railroad lawyer and loves a parlor car,

The limited express is his delight;

To all the Pullman porters he’s known both near and far

And at home he rarely stays a single a night.

Sometimes he and his clients invade a little town

And find a thriving shop with many hands –

Straightway they capture, bring it home, and set that business down

Where it naturally booms adjoining lands.#

For rushing rapid movement and real impetuosity,

For slashing round until the air is blue,

We have a brother with us who is a curiosity –

His name you’d never guess – its Elihu!

 He flies about the Court House with dash enthusiastic,

He talks, at an alarming rapid rate,

Religion, spooks, philosophy, in style both smooth and plastic

And is always just a week ahead of date.+

When through the court room sweeps a mighty gale,

When windows break and doors fly open wide,

When judges shrink and jurors all turn pale,

Then is the name of “Cyclone” justified.

Law, facts and eloquence surcharge the air

And white and black are made to seem alike,

Loud cries the listener as he grasps his chair,

“Ain’t he a dandy? That there’s Bill Van Skaik.”

Now, in a hoss case – talk about your Choate –

Ingersoll, Evarts, any other man,

If you could put the question to a vote,

Nine out of ten would rush to get old Van.

Then he is peaceable and slow to wrath,

Prefers  a lawyer just about his size.

Damon  and Pythias – who’ll forget the day?

In Graeco-Roman style clinched on the floor

With Judge McKemy there to see fair play –

Let’s hope they’ll never quarrel any more.

Here is a lawyer, marked by versatility,

Linguist and farmer, chemist, scholar, sage,

Quotes all the classics with utmost facility,

Schiller and Goeth gives you by the page

Under the spell of moderate potations

Proclaims with German accent his opinion

And, if you doubt it, furnishes quotations

From the Ohio code to code Justinian –

Seen upon horse-back he’s very Bismarck

But on the farm he looks the honest ploughman.

Where ever you find him C. L. will make his mark.

 Jolly good company, our Brother Bauman.


I knew a lawyer once but will not name him

Who thought he saw an office fat in view,

He wanted it – and truly you can’t blame him,

You would have done the same had it been you.

He had a bill passed, this astute young schemer

Climbed up to pick the plum, but careless shook it

Right into Corwin’s hands; without a tremor

David reached out for that same plum and took it.

For three long years he helped Shinn run the city,

All needed laws most skillfully he drew

But at the same time, and the more’s the pity,

He drew the other fellow’s salary too.

He is so quiet, calm and unassuming,

Seems that he scarce can utter his own name

But when some scheme needs scientific grooming

David wakes up and gets there all the same.


Cast back your thought a score or so of years,

Look on this youth so narrow, lank and long,

Marked for a quick departure he appears

But in his case appearances were wrong.

Grave was his plight and as a last expedient –

Travel and prayer, doctors and nurses failing him –

He took cod-liver oil, as one ingredient.

Look at him now, there’s really nothing ailing him

But in bad weather even to this day.


Fearing some trouble of the same description

He may be seen, so those who know him say,

Taking the other half of the prescription,

Our own “calamity,” our only Nevin.@

Still among us, big of head and girth,

Spared in his youth an early trip to Heaven,

Modestly now, content is with the earth.

Three years ago from off the party wall

He plucked a Sprigg and wore it at his belt,

Liking it well bobbed up again last fall –

Those who have been there know just how he felt!

You’ve heard the question “Who struck Billy Patterson”?

Bob knows the answer since his recent luck;

To that more interesting and burning question

“Who was the fellow J. C. Patterson struck”?


With shoulders bent and brow all knit with care,

Gaze on this lawyer, solemn, almost sad -%

His burdens seem too much for him to bear;

Sympathize with him, he’s our latest Dad!

He owns a twelve-pound boy in Dayton View,

And while he takes much credit and is proud,

Says, in a weary way, he never knew

That one small kid could yell so long and loud.

Poor Davidson! Just wait a month or so!

When the nurse leaves your trouble just begins,

Through a vast deal of training you must go

With paregoric, bibs  and safety-pins.

When you have walked the live-long night the floor

You’ll to your office fly in desperation

And organize, as you have done before,

A private Homestead Aid Association.


But where are all the younger men today?

Those that I’ve seen are middle-aged or gray –

Are there no budding members of this Bar?

None have appeared, I wonder where they are.

As I look down most anxiously I scan

Each face to find a –


But here the Muse her pencil drops,

The flow of rhyme abruptly stops,

Her further efforts sadly fail,

Her virgin eye has just spied Dale


 And by his side is also seen

That “second Daniel” Squire Breene.

Hard on their heels comes handsome Barry

With Harry Nolan – lucky Harry!

They cast their eyes upon the maid,

Small wonder that she is afraid

And while these youths stand gaping there

She vanishes in upper air.


*Hon. George W. Houk

#Oscar M. Gottschall

+Elihu Thompson

@Hon. Robert M. Nevin

%O. F. Davison




        The  Jovial  Christian


Paradise appears to be

A place of vast solemnity,

Where angels in well-ordered stoles

Gravely discuss on aureoles

And seem austerely glorious


God, in Thine unknown domicile,

Is there no place for laugh or smile

For twinkling eye or chuckle even?

Among the havens of the blest

Is it a sacrilege to jest?

And is not levity divine

When it is kindly in design?

God, might not resurrection be

A thing of utmost jollity

Lest for Thy love’s magnificence

Awe be our only recompense?


Oh let some heart of earthly whim

School well in joy Thy seraphim

Let golden laughter, ringing clear,

Link every sun-encircling sphere;

And Paradise receive from earth

The  lofty privilege of Mirth.





         The  Unbroken  Vase


(A tribute to Dr. J. C. Reeve on his 93d birthday, June 5, 1919.)


Your vase has born against the buffetings

Of  ninety years and three. The eager mold

Of youth was ever quick to take and hold

Deep impress from the higher god that sings

And  builds for men. And this high gift met springs

Of your initiate and wrought out bold

Relief and form – a cherished vase now old

With  inspiration of life’s blessed things.


All human molds must break but when your days

Run out beyond the century, no one among

Us here will lose the friend that disappears;

For you, communicator to the vase –

Afar will have a substitute for tongue

And we, your friends, a substitute for ears.





       Birthday Greetings  to  a  Friend


Dear Heart, a birthday wish I make for you

      A wish  that rises from my growing love.

Of all the blessings of the world these two

      Seem most to be desired and greatest prove.


As from the hidden future come the years

      May each one mark a step made toward the goal,

A deepening of the inner life that proves

      The  ever growing power of the soul.


.And as the days bring to you each in turn

      A new highway of duties to be trod,

May they bring with them as the prize you earn

      A  closer, dearer fellowship with God.






Ah true! Beneath the far Samoan skies

And high above the ever shifting sea

In breathless sleep for all eternity

His dear frail weary body slumb’ring lies.

Yet we who walk with twilight hearts and eyes

That see but darkly for the brimming tears

Know that across the intervening years

His voice a silver note of challenge cries

That we should wear the mantle of our pain

As though it were a cloak of countless price,

Should learn with silent courage to despise

To  hold life’s bitterness as aught but gain.

So, heartened by his faith we go our way

And find fresh strength for each new dawning day.

  • WellesleyMagazine





                           Song of Praise for not Being a Poet


I have heard fountains singing in the grass,

I have seen rainbows thrilling to the sun,

I have felt south winds dancing as they pass,

      All joy is one.


I have touched heaven’s radiance with a star,

I have drunk earth’s brown vintage with a tree,

I have plucked splendors where the lightnings are,

      Beauty is free.


I have chased angels on a sea-gull’s wings,

I have learned laughter from the spinning spheres,

Yet I who am no poet need not sing

     Or care who hears.


Ah, happy is the owner of the sky,

Who is not exiled by the flaming sword

To seek the phrase that paints it till he die,

      Slave of the World

  • The New Republic




                TO  A  LOST  NEIGHBOR

In  Memory of Mrs. Christiana  Folz of Harmon Place.

Oldest and Most Beloved Resident of Oakwood Village,

Who died in her ninety-first year. November twenty-sixth, 1922.


In those high neighborhoods you left us for,

In those bright gardens you have gone to tend,

You are not strange who were the garden’s friend

And  neighbored all who passed your open door.


Here you made life an art, and age a grace;

In your triumphant ninety years you told

How beautiful one may be growing old

And  how great souls enlarge a little place.


If your new neighbors on that heavenly hill

You thought could hardly be more fair than this

Love best the blithe immortals we love best –

The gay, the kind, the gallant; if they thrill

To deathless larks and lilacs – dear Aunt Chris,

How much at home you’ll be among the blest!






(The following poem does not appear in any of Paul Dunbar’s published works. It was read on the occasion of the first meeting of the High School Alumni Association in the (then) new Steele High School. For forty years the Central High School had housed all the pupils above the grade schools in the old Central High on the corner of Fourth and Wilkinson. In 1891 the school was moved to its new quarters on the corner of Main and Monument.)


   The  Old  High  School  and  the  New


We’ve been off some little while – some one place, some another,

And coming back we thought to find a weeping widowed mother;

And now it seems the dear old girl forgot us while we tarried,

She dropped her weeds, came out in white and bless my soul! She’s married.

We left her lonely down the way clad in a somber gown,

But ah, she’s wed a wealthy spouse, dressed up and moved up town.

She’s lost her fine humility and timid bearing lately

And looms upon our dazzled gaze so dignified and stately

That we are prone to bend our ears to certain rumors shady

And really question of ourselves is this the same old lady?

You know when folks have been away and come back home it’s proper

To weep a little, gush some more, and casually to drop a

Word about “the dear old place” and other “memories tender,”

But oh! The chances here I find preeminently slender

For all the splendor round about my flow of memory hinders

And finery and newness knocks all memory to flinders.

I have searched about most carefully to find “the dear old place”

Where seniors shrieked the tenor out and juniors shouted bass.

But if there’s any of it left I’m sure I haven’t found it;

They’ve got a brand new singing hall with galleries around it;

I wish that classic hall was here where our ambitious feeling

Soared on the wings of paper wads and stuck against the ceiling.

I’d like to hear those boys again and all those maidens pretty

Who, standing on the old platform, waxed eloquent or witty,

Who sped their hits or rained the jokes as plentiful as manna,

I wonder if they’re joking still about the old piano.

It seems that now some pretty tears the sentiment would garnish

But we’re afraid to weep in here for fear we’ll spoil the varnish.

So tearless, but with a regret, a deep one and a true one,

We’ll bid the dear old school goodbye and welcome in the new one.

We’ve questioned her identity, of all this change abhorrent,

But on near view she warmer grows. She’s not half bad I’ll warrant.

She speaks and on her quivering lids the anxious tear drops glisten,

What can we do but pause awhile respectfully and listen?

“Don’t let the thought that I have changed with stubborn hearts imbue,

If you’ll accept me, children dear, I’ll be a mother to you.”

We’ll do it, won’t we, girls and boys, excuse me, men and women,

We’ll throw our arms about her neck in spite of all the trimmin’,

We’ll climb upon her ample lap, turn up our eager faces

And listen to her wisdom in the pause between embraces.

And while we toast the old that’s gone, new joys shall make our pain sweet

We’ll take our love from Wilkinson and move it up to Main Street.

We’ll bind this new-made mother’s brow with every wreath and token

Of that deep love within our hearts that never can be spoken.

We’ll love her as we loved the dear old school or very very near it,

For tho’ she’s thrown the dress away she’s kept the same old spirit;

And of her present boys and girls we’ll each prove a believer

That every year she’ll turn  them out as good and bright as we were.








                       ELIZABETH  CONOVER  MOORE


“The Ladies Home Journal” carries on its editorial page a head of Minerva. At the time the Curtis Publishing Company was about moving into its new building on Independence Square there was some unavoidable delay. Minerva, the goddess of learning, was invoked by a member of the staff to explain what was  the matter. Ed.)


                              Owed  to  Minerva


Greetings to thee oh Minerva, goddess of classical profile –

Thee we invoke as our patron, O Lady of Wisdom and Letters!

Thee we implore to dispel the shadows that lie o’er the future,

Each day we lift up our voices and none there is to give an answer;

What of the new Curtis building? When are “they” going to start it,

Tell us, O Pallas Athene; give us plans and specifications!


Thus invoked Minerva turned her iron-helmed head,

Addressed the Curtis employees and this is what she said:

“By this bright Aegis sent from Jove all brave in sunny gold,

I know but little but I’ll tell you all that’s so far told.

To those who haunt Olympian slopes doth Jove a vision grant

Of that which we may look for in the future Curtis plant.

But how long we shall have to wait I know not nor does Jove,

Not even Mr. Curtis knows exactly when we’ll move.

The general architectural plan you surely ought to know,

A  Renaissance-Colonial Ladies Home-ly Bungalow.

On the inside for variety two styles will be employed;

Combining  Early Pullman and Late North German Lloyd.

At several points upon the roof, by order of the gods,

Mr. Franklin will erect his great invention – lightning rods.

The roof itself you will enjoy; ‘twill be a sunny Gym,

With track and showers and pool in which you all can learn to swim,

And you’ll often see some editor a-fencing with the foils

In  the intervals of editing his page “Side Steps with Goils.”

I myself will run the restaurant, in true Olympic fashion

And offer all those foods for which the Greek gods had a passion,

For nectar I’ll charge four cents – with “Ambrosia” ‘twill be eight,

For water from the Pierian spring five cents will be my rate.

Of course there’ll be committee rooms – to fill a floor or two,

A skating rink, a club room for the Curtis Junior Zoo –

(The goddess is here interrupted by cries and questions.)

But where, Minerva, will there be squeezed in what we need most,

Room  enough to print and sell the “Journal” and the “Post”?

“Why that I guess we all forgot” (her voice it seemed to falter),

“Perhaps there’s some space left – I’ll have to go see Mr. – Ludington



                 PAUL  SHIVELL


                January Snowstorm


Last night I trudged to town in the deep snow;

I seem’d the only one of all my race

In all the world. Soft through the still cold air

Fine flakes were falling yet. Some kist my face;

I couldn’t see them but I knew them fair.

There were my little guardian angels there,

Lest I should founder in some lonely place

Along the unbroken road and none know where.

With glorious exhilarating snow

The town was hushed. I saw thy gleaming light,

And in my joyous freedom thought of thee,

Shut in from robust romp, wild to be free

While thousands who at will can come and go

Hug fires and shudder at the winter night.



                                             On the Miami


A flute came o’er the water in the night

Sober and sweet it wandered down the scale

And back, returning with a deep delight

It reached the golden stars and told its tale.

Warbling as it came, a swan under full sail

Waking melodious miles! While hushed afar

As from a happier fellow soul, but frail,

Lost in the passionate fluting a guitar

Answered  across the waves like a confiding star.


Then voices of two souls in love with life

Went floating down the river in the moon;

And softer with the singing came the tune

Of  the faint cithern and the sacred fife.

We leaned with clasped hands o’er that deep hour

Until the music of contented love

Wound into river stillness – when above

We heard the first breath of the coming shower

Rustling the foliage. Slowly then toward home

We strolled beneath wide elms in the green gloom

And Gertrude all in white looked like a flower.





             The Old Court House


These are the steps where Lincoln stood,

      When he came once to view our scene,

Men rich and poor found brotherhood

      Upon  this fair and friendly green.


How many years of history

      Speak from that stair, these doors and walls?

What ways of life across the sea

      Call from those cushioned capitals?


Here we may pause from off the street,

      Our fathers’ wisdom pondering

Here, where the country’s highways meet

      Here let it stand – our lovely thing!




               HARRY  E.  MEAD



(To Thomas P. Gaddis, on his seventieth birthday.)


Age called for him

And bade him some along

And join the feeble hoary-headed throng

That staggers down the hill of life.


But he – though smiling welcome, full of courtesy, replied

Ah! No – I shall not go.

‘Tis true my eye and sight have feebler grown

And but few years remain to call my own,

But there is that within my soul today

That bids me tell thee – nay!


Thou hast indeed won o’er the greater part

But youth still fills the kingdom of my heart.






          MERAB  EBERLE



Thy footsteps sound among the stars

And they are sands unto Thy feet.

The ages surge across Thy brow

And they are seconds in thy reckonings.

Oh, what am I –

Breath spewed from the mouth of nothingness –

To  beat against omnipotence with my small cry?

Yet, God of the magnificences,

Let me but know Thee once before I die!

  • North American Review







Let her go to Italy

And let her go to Rome!

I’ll plant a bed of pale pink phlox,

Zinnias and hollyhocks,

Petunias and four o’clocks

And gaily stay at home!

                                                                        - Christian Science Monitor






If she went to heaven

He must go to heaven –

Little old lady and tomcat gray.

She wouldn’t be happy

Unless she saw him

Contentedly strolling down glory’s way,

Eating a bit of the long green grasses

And making fervent, if futile, passes

At  the rainbow of songsters of Eternal Day.

Lord, if he isn’t walking beside her

Or prowling near in gardens gay

Send out Gabriel – or even lesser angel –

To search Death’s darkness for tomcat gray.



            GEORGE  B.  SMITH

                  An Evensong


Across the earth the lengthened shadows play;

      The last red rays come mildly slanting down;

In tranquil mood the passing Autumn day

      Is  waiting for its hallowed golden crown.

As one who, through enchanted gardens, walks

      Amid the splendor that we know in dreams,

I move, and to my soul all Nature talks

      In  tender tones. ‘Tis God’s own voice, it seems.


The moments pass and yonder western sky

      Now, like a wide-hung flaming curtain, glows;

The daylight hours thus in radiance die,

      As  twilight brings the color of the rose.

The  songster’s  goodnight  twitter from his bower

      Is blended with the rustle of the leaves;

The soft, sweet chorus of the evening hour

      Is  soothing to the troubled heart that grieves.


And, now, the last faint rose tints disappear;

      The stars usurp the glory of the sky,

And faintly, ‘cross the dewy fields, I hear

      A  sweet-toned church bell’s gentle lullaby.

 In prayerful silence peasant-like I bow;

      Each zephyr wafts a solace as it blows;

‘Tis but a step from Earth to Heaven now,

The even-tide hath brought such sweet repose.





              I Sang One Day


I sang one day of Pleasure,

      And Love that knows no tear:

There were no ears to listen,

      I saw no heart draw near.


Today I sang of Sorrow,

      Of  Hunger, Thirst and Tears:

Strange thing! At this, the world

      Unmuffled  both her ears.

  • Dayton Daily News


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