“Why do you listen, O you people,
to this old and world-worn music?
This is not for you, in the splendour of a new age, in the democratic
Listen to the clashing cymbals, the big drums, the brazen trumpets of
But the people made no answer, following
in their hearts the simpler
For it seemed to them, noise-weary, nothing could be better worth the
Than the melodies which brought sweet order into life’s confusion.
So the shepherd sang his way along, until he came unto a mountain:
And I know not surely whether the mountain was called Parnassus,
But he climbed it out of sight, and still I heard the voice of one
THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
BIRTHDAY VERSES, 1906
Dear Aldrich, now November’s mellow
Have brought another Festa round to you,
You can’t refuse a loving-cup of praise
From friends the fleeting years have bound to you.
Here come your Marjorie Daw, your dear
Prudence, and Judith the Bethulian,
And many more, to wish you birthday joy,
And sunny hours, and sky cerulean!
Your children all, they hurry to your
With wreaths of honour they have won for you,
To merry-make your threescore years and ten.
You, old? Why, life has just begun for you!
There’s many a reader whom your
And crystal stories cheer in loneliness.
What though the newer writers come in throngs?
You’re sure to keep your charm of only-ness.
You do your work with careful, loving
An artist to the very core of you,—
You know the magic spell of “not-too-much”:
We read,—and wish that there was more of you.
And more there is: for while we love
Because their subtle skill is part of you;
We love you better, for our friendship looks
Behind them to the human heart of you.
MEMORIAL SONNET, 1908
This is the house where little Aldrich
The early pages of Life’s wonder-book
With boyish pleasure: in this ingle-nook
He watched the drift-wood fire of Fancy shed
Bright colour on the pictures blue and red:
Boy-like he skipped the longer words, and took
His happy way, with searching, dreamful look
Among the deeper things more simply said.
Then, came his turn to write: and
still the flame
Of Fancy played through all the tales he told,
And still he won the laurelled poet’s fame
With simple words wrought into rhymes of gold.
Look, here’s the face to which this house is frame,—
A man too wise to let his heart grow old!