LAURELS OF LAUGHTER.
We may laugh with the day
When summer days are gay,
And sweet flowers are found;
But let’s not laugh the doom
When death cleans others’ room
And man is homeward bound.
We may laugh in public
Where the rolling music
With fantasy abound;
But let’s not laugh alone
Over a juicy bone
Which is a Shylock’s pound.
We may laugh with a friend
Whose joys we are concerned,
And whose round is our round;
But let’s not laugh with foes,
Lest we increase our woes
With grief we’re not enjoined.
Let us laugh with the trick
Which is a harmless pick,
Where sweet echoes redound;
But let’s not laugh the frown
Twisted with grief to mourn,
Where silent sighs rebound.
We may laugh with the mad
When he himself is glad,
And comedy seems drowned;
But let’s not laugh the joke
With intent to provoke,
Or deepen an old wound.
We may laugh so with joy
When love our souls employ
For perfect realms beyond;
But let’s not laugh with pride
When men the world divide
And tragedy sits crowned.
We may laugh with the peace
That contentment increase,
Heaped like mound upon mound;
But let’s not laugh with greed
That with selfishness feed
On the milk of life browned.
We may laugh as men laugh
To pick the grains from the chaff
When lost jewels are found;
But let’s not laugh with fools
Who are confused of the rules,
And bulls for mules confound.
We may laugh with all men
Who are mortal children
With one destiny joined;
But let’s not laugh in creed
Which will anarchy breed
And unity astound.
We may laugh in service
When it is sacrifice
Below this lowly ground;
But let’s not laugh evil
In triumph of ill-will,
Lest hypocrites we’re found.
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THE PICTURE ON THE WALL (To my Wife)
What is this picture doing here?
--That fair image of rural beauty
Dangling on the Kollegium wall
Far away in this Danish country?
That is my African treasure –
Sweet innocent from a hamlet plot;
A flower of evergreen beauty –
This sweet pleasure of forget-me-not.
Once I saw her, so strange she fared
Among my vision of poetic dreams;
A fancy breed among my garden plants,
And now part of my exotic dreams.
Oh, Queen of Simplicity –
With the silent language of art;
Oh, source of my inspiration
Of fathomless love of a heart.
So near I can feel the cheerful face,
With the silent smile from the wall;
So distant beats the mortal heart,
With echoes of eternal call.
SOME STRANGE MALADY AFFLICTED MY SOUL
Some strange malady afflicted my soul
To sing a song to please an old lady.
The rhythm flowed but the words failed their role.
I struggled and trembled but could not resolve
The conflict within my strange melody
Because my young heart was not strong enough
To understand the pity in her eyes.
And then she whispered :”To sing of love,
All men begin with words of lies.”
Then my old lady told me her story:
“Once I was fair like the valley lily
And my love was as gay as the magpie
As daily he sang me his strange melody:
His voice was charming and his swords were true;
I felt enchanted in his world of dream
And lost my world and all I owed to him.
He spent my days like coins; before I knew ---
But young man, do not ask me what went wrong.
Pooh! Shame unto you for the same old song.”
I ONCE CHARTERED THE FLIGHT OF LOVE
I once chartered the flight of love
To ride seventeen miles on foot
To attend to my rival’s suit
To worship her in Venus’ grove.
I hailed her, but she looked askance,
I smiled and smiled but smiled in vain.
She looked at me with such disdain,
And mocked at my silly advance.
I staked my all for love and lost,
And swore I’ll never love again.
But the snares of love is such a chain;
One gets entangled worse and worse.
He scored the prize and took it all;
And spent her love and wasted it.
The heart of man is such a flirt,
And love turned sour is bitter than gall.
TO MISS VIVIAN B. QUIST ON HER 49TH BIRTHDAY
Valley violet of the verdant vale!
Inflame my ideas to idolize your fame.
Vivacious virago of the victorious strife,
I sing this idyll to immortalize your name
As ambassador anthologist your fame to proclaim –
Nymph Nivarna, O nonpareil.
Blessed be the bloom of your blossomed life
Quadragenarian queen of quantum fame,
Unbridled unicorn of untamed love,
Initiate me, inspire me, O illustrious dame,
Storm my heart to sing more songs enough
Till time terminates the tale of my poetic flame.
At last, here our routes must part,
But to feel the pains in my heart,
Had I never beheld your face,
Happily might I have lived my days.
When safely at home, please forget;
That time his wand may heal my hurt.
You may find them more and plenty,
But few must you compare with me.
TIMES CHANGE I (To Ateaa)
Even as the chicken has its little sense of memory,
So shall you see in the wrinkles of my remembrance
The creases of yesterday’s pains;
And so if I cannot smile with you today,
Count it not my crime,
For she who forsakes the oven shovel
While the bakery burns
Cannot expect a better cake.
So now let me enjoy my slumber,
And you keep your wake.
TIMES CHANGE II (To Ateaa)
That night you laughed and laughed and laughed
And thought your world would never end.
That was the night you shattered my dreams.
Then the years brought my relief,
And nature nurtured my wishes,
And time nourished my dreams into blossom.
And now the fruits of realities are matured,
It is my turn to laugh and laugh and laugh;
And because now your dimples have turned into wrinkles,
See how my wrinkles also change into dimples.
THE WINNER (To my Wife)
When the choice was mine
To select a companion
To share the petty thrills
And little platitudes
Of my life’s adventures,
It was no renown
Of a mate to rattle
Some foreign strange language,
Nor the grace to share the pride
Of the regalia of some Embassy beauty queen,
Nor the pomp and extravaganza
Of some business-like lady tycoon,
Nor the pleasure to lick the pretty fingers
Adept at the art of cuisine;
And so I cast the dice:
The luck was yours’
And the love was mine.
THE LAST TIME I THOUGHT OF YOU
The last time I thought of you
Was when I considered
Some strange bartender’s bill
Which stated: “more for less.”
I stared at the strange meal
And compared your services
Which offered “less for more”
Of the feasts and banquets of love.
Then, as I swallowed the bitter morsel,
And filling my belly with the pills of life,
I concluded: “A royal kinsman
Is a nonentity far from home.”
MY SOUL REVISITED THE PAST
My soul revisited the past
And feasted on the memories
Of the receptive days.
I saw a young man and a small girl,
Behind the hedge;
Beside the school building.
They spoke with their eyes
And fixed a date in the night.
Do you remember
How it all began?
The following day,
When the sun with a smile
Sealed the pact of our nocturnal contract,
You were so abashed then,
But there was new color
In your blooming cheeks;
And there was new life
In your dancing eyes
Because you had shared with me
Your little piece of the apple of life:
No further words then, but a nod
Endorsed our eternal contract.
HATE OR LOVE, IF IT IS GOD’S LOVE (To Rosemary)
If a man decides to hate me
Because I am not what he expects me to be,
That may not be his faulting,
Neither is it insulting;
May God forgive him for his calumny.
But if he is dissatisfied
Because the shape of my nose he cannot abide,
That cannot be my blame,
Nor my fault to defame,
But his question God should decide.
If some lady’s favor award;
And for the love of God her love to me accord,
That cannot be my credit.
But if in that be merit,
Let my songs of praise flow to God.
But if her love turns aversion,
Because a coward I’m proved in conversion,
That should not be judged my pride;
But if she my manhood deride,
Then her riddle is God’s version.
The spring flowers of today,
With summer may fade away;
The spring leaves fresh and green,
Are glamour on nature’s screen.
So stay, O beauty, stay!
Just a minute’s delay,
Before our breath decay.
Beauty is a slippery wile
That time’s adornment beguile.
Strange beauties have I seen,
But never enchanted been.
So smile, O angel, smile!
And in your graceful style,
Lend me your extra mile.
SHE WAS TOO YOUNG TO FALL IN LOVE
She was so sweet and fair’
With such a loving stare;
When I said I loved her,
She looked at me and smiled,
But she refused her hand,
Because she was too young to understand;
Yet she was not a child.
I sang her a strange song
About maids once so young
Who died in love so strong;
She looked at me and blushed,
But in love did not blend
Because she was too young to comprehend;
Yet she past nourished.
Her image haunted me,
In my thoughts of fancy.
But in her company
I rued why I was born,
For she will not bother;
Being too young, she was scared of her mother;
Thus she made me forlorn.
And now she is no more
The lady to adore,
For life is a glamour
Of flashing acts on screen
That will not hesitate
For those who will play their brief parts too late;
And off they pass from scene.
GOOD-BYE , LOVE!
Goodbye darling! But why is it so hard
To comprehend facts when the scene is set?
Why? Why is my reason driving me mad
Now the game is over; why can’t I forget?
Goodbye, love! But why am I so niggard
With the truth made so clear, why can’t I let
These childish fancies that dream me so sad
Free me from these silly doubt of regret?
The scene is set; there is no remedy,
And now to our variant roles let us play:
Yours the comedy, mine the tragedy,
And time, the referee’s decision obey.
The facts so bare, in confusion I still drown:
Truly, on love’s stage, a king will play the clown.
I WAS TRAVERSING THE FLOWERY LANES OF LIFE
I was traversing the flowery lanes of life,
(Its shady avenues and pleasant groves),
When I suddenly come upon the rose.
I stretched my fingers to pluck but met the thorn;
I with drew with shame and scorn,
And heard the birds chant my smart:
He who traffics in love
Plays gamble with his heart;
For where the grass is green,
There serves the snake a screen.
I was strolling the breezy beaches of life,
(Its pleasure side-walks and sunny bowers),
When suddenly I came upon the hive.
I thought I’ll take a taste but met the sting,
And felt the daze of one on swing.
Then I heard the bees laugh my remove:
He who barters in love,
Must not disdain reproof;
For where the turf affords bliss,
There too the snake will hiss.