Uncle Sam's Verse:
The dreary wintry day drew to a close,
The wind sighed mournfully through leafless boughs;
Behind gray clouds, the sun sunk in the west;
Another day of toil and care was past.
I sat me down beside the glowing fire
To rest my weary limbs in th'old armchair;
My faithful dog, head resting on my knee,
His wistful gaze so full of sympathy;
His chiefest joy my slightest wish t'obey.
When seeming danger threatens, rushes to the fray,
Nor hesitates though unequal be the strife,
Defending me or mine, he'd freely give his life.
Poor faithful Dan, you seek for no reward,
Except a gentle pat or kindly word.
Thrice blessed by the man who 'mong his kind
A friend so true, so trusty, he may find.
While thus I sat in listless dreamy mood,
Quick as the lightning's flash, again I stood
In fancy, 'mong the Catskill's crags, to roam
'Mid scenes that cluster round my childhood's home.
The streamlet bubbling from old roundtop's side
Down tiny caskades leap; now o'er smooth pebbles glide,
Now 'neath the drooping ferns or dogwood hide,
The source from whence old Delaware's rolling tide.
Through waving meadows wind the sparkling rills,
The towering maples, crowning grass clad hills
Where lowing cattle graze; and bleating flocks,
Secure from noonday heat 'neath sheltering rocks.
Slopes white with daisies, capped by rocky dome,
Where, safe from mortal foes, the woodchuck finds a home.
Happy barefooted boys, we climbed the brambly steeps
And picked blackberries where the woodbiine creeps.
Threw well-aimed stones at squirrels, perched high beyond our reach,
Or gathered stores of nuts, beneath the spreading beech.
Down in the shady glen, with murderous baited hook,
I drew the wriggling trout from out his native brook.
From th'old barn eaves the chattering swallows spring;
Beneath the poplar tree the dear old creaking swing,
Adorn the hill, beside the apple tree,
Again; the sparkling bubbling spring, I see,
The water gushing from the gray rock's cleft,
Where kneeling, I so oft its coolings quaft.
How strangly, vividly, comes back the scene,
With happy playmates on the School House green;
On MAYNARDS FLAT, in sheltered sunny nook,
There stands the old gray schoolhouse by the brook;
Light-hearted boys and girls in childish glee,
In groups assembled, 'neath the old elm tree
In quest of ferns and flowers, climbed rocks and waded rills,
While merry joyous shouts, re-echoed from the hills,
The wreaths of tuties from the mossy bog,
The see-saw plank across the prostrate log,
Some pelt with cruel stones the luckless frog,
Or through the slimy ooz pursue the pollywog.
The old schoolhouse and playground still remain,
From murmuring brook I hear the same refrain,
And bright-eyed happy children, join in play
The same old games that once we used to play;
And yet for me how desolate, how lone,
The old familiar faces: all are gone, -
Gone, some are scattered far o'er land or sea,
But more have joined the silent company.
How bright on memory's page the scene appears,
Undimmed by distance or by rolling years;
The song of katydids, the hum of bees,
The poplar leaflets trembling in the breeze,
The sheltered snug nooks, and fragrant flowers,
I taste the joys of childhood happy hours.
Like panorama spread before me now,
His thin gray locks, his wrinkled, careworn brow,
Father, with mason's hammer bending o'er the rock,
That yields, beneath the sharp resounding stroke,
As day by day the massive walls arise.
I tread the orchard path up to the cottage door,
There mother stands, just as in days of yore,
Greets me with love-lit eyes that beam with joy,
Or gently chides her thoughtless truant boy;
How fair that face, though marked by lines of care;
A few bright silver threads amoung her glossy hair;
Her stooping, tired form again I see,
And breath the prayer I learned beside her knee;
Again I kneel beside my trundel bed,
I feel her hand still resting on my head,
Again I hear her prayer, in lingering cadence sweet,
That God would guide my wayward, erring feet.
Blazing logs on andirons quaint and old,
To me more precious far than gems or gold,
Father and Mother, with their children stand,
Around their hearthstone; an unbroken band.
Twelve youthful happy hearts, untouched by cankering care,
'Though sometimes scanty was their frugal fare;
But they are gone, departed one by one;
And I alone am left, alone - alone.
And her, my partner in maturer years,
Who shared my joys, my sorrows, and my cares,
In darkest hours, my comforter and stay,
As hand in hand we trod life's rugged way;
While sense or being lasts her memory forms a part
Engraved on the tablets of my heart.
Again I see the dear angelic face,
Again I feel her loving, fond embrace.
A husband ne'er by truer wife was blest.
No purer heart e'er beat in human breast.
She too is gone, on angel pinions bore
To join our children who had gone before,
And on that peaceful shore with angel bands,
For me they seem to wait with beckoning hands.
'Twill not be long, parting will soon be o'er,
Then we well meet, where parting is no more,
No, not for long, life's storms will soon be past;
Then safe in sheltering fold the wanderer will rest.
Dark clouds of doubt recessed, my view expands;
As swift in silence fall my few remaining sands,
Warned by my aching limbs and whitening locks,
My bark is drifting near time's hidden rocks
And darksome shadows lengthening o'er my way,
Herald the morn of an eternal day.