Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

John W. Overall

To a Miniature

‘Tis strange that Art can weave a face
    So radiant and divine,
So eloquent with thought and grace,
    So beautiful as thine.
I almost see the warm blood seek
    The blue veins on thy brow,
And glow upon thy pearly cheek—
    So life-like seemest thou.

I love thy dark eye's sunny glee;
    There's something in its glance
That tells thy heart is fond and free,
    And full of love's romance.
The dimpled lake, the sky's soft glow,
    Can no such charms impart,
As those which thou dost mutely throw
    Around the burning heart.

And o'er that bosom, white as snow,
    Entwined in thy fair finger,
Dark, dreamy silken ringlets flow,
    As if they loved to linger;
And blest as heaven are they blest,
    Rocked in their sea-wave motion,
Like shadows on the tiny breast
    Of some sweet mimic ocean.

Oh, couldst thou break the silent spell
    That binds thy lips so long,
Each soft, enchanting tone would tell
    That thou wert born for song!
To me, Art's melody but mocks—
    For in the gilded South,
The softest, sweetest music box
    Is woman's rosy mouth!

How fair these daughters of the sun,
    These black-eyed, sparkling things,
These jewels of the Holy One,
    These angels without wings!
One golden look, one crystal tear,
    One sweet emphatic word,
Is worth the wealth of Ind, so dear,
    Or all we've seen or heard.

Lo! dreams of love fled by, yet sweet,
    Come back to me again,
Like parted angels when they meet
    In Aiden's dear domain.
And gazing in those orbs of light,
    Did I but know thee, girl,
I'd brave the battle's fiercest fight,
    For one bright smile or curl!

The Bards

In their high heroic measure,
    In their high heroic truth,
Live the bards throughout all ages,
    In the quenchless fire of youth;
We revel in their visions,
    And we love the songs they sing,
When they strike the harp of glory
    Like the Israelitish king.

They have read the starry heavens—
    These diviners of the stars—
Read Uranus and the Pleiades,
    And the fiery planet Mars;
They have soared among the planets,
    They have swept the fields of Time;
They have soared up in the spirit—
    Bards heroic and sublime!

And they gather from the planets,
    Where their spirit-feet have trod,
Light and supernal wisdom,
    And a lucid proof of God;
And feel the truth eternal
    O'er their yearning spirits steal,
That the Real is the Ideal,
    That the Ideal is the Real!

They come, like John the Baptist,
    In the wilderness of Thought,
Preaching in the world's Judæa
    What the holy Teacher taught;
They come with lips of wisdom,
    And they strike the sounding lyre—
Lips radiant with the glow of love
    And high prophetic fire.

They summon white-browed Helen
    From the old-forgotten strife,
And Platæa's men, and Marathon's,
    To the vestibule of life.
We see the glittering of the steel
    Under the Latian stars,
The beaks of the Roman eagles,
    And the red, round shield of Mars.

They tell of brave old legends,
    Legends of the priestly age;
Of ladye fair, with golden hair,
    Courtly peer and gentle page.
We see the knights and barons
    Coming forth in martial line,
And Richard of the Lion-heart
    On the plains of Palestine.

We mark the pennon and the plume,
    We see the shivering lance,
And Cressy with its bowmen,
    And the troubadours of France.
We mark the knights at Chevy Chase,
    We see the banners fly,
And the royal Stuart riding down
    To Flodden Hill to die.

Ah! the Past with all its visions
    Comes before us in its prime—
All the olden, golden glory
    Of the golden, olden time.
Thus in high heroic measure,
    And in high heroic truth,
Live the bards throughout all ages,
    In the quenchless fire of youth.

Unlike the men who speak alone
    For the passing things of time,
The bards speak for all ages
    In the lofty words of rhyme.
Not for the coming morrow,
    Not for the brief to-day,
Stir the bards the harp's wild pulses,
    Sing the bards their noble lay.

And they die not, these heroic bards,
    They live on with the stars,
With Uranus and the Pleiades,
    And the fiery planet Mars.
They are spirits of Earth and Aiden,
    Earth and Aiden hear them sing,
When they strike the harp of glory,
    Like the Israelitish King.

Poems from, Thomas M'Caleb (ed.), The Louisiana Book: Selections from the Literature of the State 514-518 (New Orleans: R.F. Straughan, Publisher, 1894)