When we gathered in the parlor, in the parlor stiff
and grand, Where the haircloth chairs and sofas stood
arrayed, a gloomy band,
Where each queer oil portrait watched us with a countenance of wood,
And the shells upon the what-not in a dustless splendor stood.
Then the quaint old parlor organ with the quaver in
Seemed to tremble in its fervor as the sacred songs were sung,
As we sang the homely anthems, sang the glad revival hymns
Of the glory of the story and the light no sorrow dims.
While the dusk grew ever deeper and the evening settled down, And the lamp-lit windows twinkled in the drowsy little town, Old and young we sang the chorus and the echoes told it o’er In the dear familiar voices, hushed or scattered evermore.
From the window of the chapel faint and low the music dies, And the picture in the firelight fades before my tear-dimmed eyes, But my wistful fancy, listening, hears the night-wind hum the tunes That we sang there in the parlor on those Sunday afternoons.
* * * * *
Up in the attic I found them, locked in the cedar
Where the flowered gowns lie folded, which once were brave as the best;
And like the queer old jackets and the waistcoats gay with stripes,
They tell of a worn-out fashion—these old daguerreotypes.
Quaint little folding cases fastened with tiny hook,
Seemingly made to tempt one to lift up the latch and look;
Linings of purple velvet, odd little frames of gold,
Circling the faded faces brought from the days of old.
Grandpa and grandma, taken ever so long ago,
Grandma’s bonnet a marvel, grandpa’s collar a show,
Mother, a tiny toddler, with rings on her baby hands
Painted—lest none should notice—in glittering, gilded bands.
Aunts and uncles and cousins, a starchy and stiff
Lovers and brides, then blooming,—now so wrinkled and gray:
Out through the misty glasses they gaze at me, sitting here
Opening the quaint old cases with a smile that is half a tear.
I will smile no more, little pictures, for heartless
it was, in truth,
To drag to the cruel daylight these ghosts of a vanished youth;
Go back to your cedar chamber, your gowns and your lavender,
And dream, ’mid their bygone graces, of the wonderful days that were.
* * * * *
I remember, when a youngster, all the happy hours
When to visit Uncle Hiram in the country oft I went;
And the pleasant recollection still in memory has a charm
Of my boyish romps and rambles round the dear old-fashioned farm.
But at night all joyous fancies from my youthful bosom crept,
For I knew they’d surely put me where the “comp’ny” always slept,
And my spirit sank within me, as upon it fell the gloom
And the vast and lonely grandeur of the best spare room.