After the ship—how
good the spacious rooms!
How strange mosquito canopies on beds!
Knights of St. Louis sniff the frying yams,
Venison, and turtle,—
The old green turtle died tonight—
The children’s eyes grow wider on the stairs.
Down in the library,
The Marquis, writing back to old Auvergne,
Has sanded down the ink;
Again the quill pen squeaks:
“A ship will sail tomorrow back to France,
By special providence for you, dear wife;
Tonight there will be toasts to Washington,
To our good Louis and his Antoinette—
There will be toasts tonight for la Fayette....”
He melts the wax;
Look, how the candle gutters at the flame!
And now he seals the letter with his ring.
 See the note at the back of the book.
A BALLAD OF THEODOSIA BURR
And must the old priest wake
Because the wind is high tonight?
Because the yellow moonlight dead
Lies silent as a word unsaid—
What dreams had he upon his bed?
The winter moon scuds high
Her light is old upon his hair;
The gray priest muses in a prayer:
“Christ Jesus, when
I come to die
Grant me a clean, sweet, summer sky,
Without the mad wind’s panther cry.
Send me a little garden breeze
To gossip in magnolia trees;
For I have heard, these fifty years,
Confessions muttered at my ears,
Till every mumble of the wind
Is like tired voices that have sinned,
And furtive skirling of the leaves
Like feet about the priest-house eaves,
And moans seem like the unforgiven
That mutter at the gate of heaven,
Ghosts from the sea that passed unshriven.
And it was just this time
There came a boy with lantern light
And he was linen-pale with fright;
It was not hard to guess my task,
Although I raised the sash to ask—
‘Oh, Father,’ cried the boy, ’Oh, come!
Quickly with the viaticum!
The sailor-man is going to die!’
The thirsty silence drank his cry.
A starless stillness damped the air,
While his shrill voice kept piping there,
’The sailor-man is going to die’—
The huge drops splattered from the sky.
I shivered at my midnight
But took the elements and oil,
And hurried down into the street
That barked and clamored at our feet—
And as we ran there came a hum
Of round shot slithered on a drum,
While like a lid of sound shut down
The thunder-cloud upon the town;
Jalousies banged and loose roofs slammed,
Like hornbooks fluttered by the damned;
And like a drover’s whip the rain
Cracked in the driving hurricane.