All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/Out of Style


LADY LESTER sighed—such a well-bred sigh!—
As her daughter passed the piazza by,
Slender, and pallid, and drooping over,
Like the burdened bloom of the dewy clover,
Holding a volume, in childish wise,
Close to her eager and solemn eyes,
Till stumbling feet had betrayed their trust,
And, shuffling, stirred the unpolished dust.

"No style at all,"Lady Lester spoke,
As another sigh on the silence broke.
"Not a bit of style—just her pa again;
He's a clumsy soul, though the best of men.
Straighter, Rosie! straight! hold your shoulders low!
Keep your toes turned out, and your head up—so!"

There was lifting up of the great gray eyes,
With an earnest glance, full of strange surprise
That the legend sweet of the dream-lit land
Was a vision only within her hand,
Where the princes lived only wrongs to right,
And the brownies wrought through the summer night.

"Ah! yes, mamma." With her loving smile
Rosie raised her head. For a little while
Proudly trod the path like a grenadier;
Then the story grew so exceeding queer
She forgot the charge, and the time and place,
And relapsed at once into deep disgrace.

Lady Lester saw and decided then
To appeal once more to "the best of men"
Whether masters, gold, and the closest care
Could not give their Rosie "a better air."
So a new departure was planned and made,
With her soul left out of the plan they laid.


Braces and arguments, daily walks,
Wise emulation and worldly talks,
With all the polishing tools now used,
Were thus in a wonderful system fused.

They trained her brain, in the highest school;
They trained her feet, till she stepped by rule;
They trained her tongue, till her heart was mute
Like idle walls of a soundless lute.
All through, her soul, looking out afar,
Fought underneath golden bolt and bar,
Asked higher themes for itself the while
Than new demands of the latest style.

It loved and longed for the better things
Here daily touched by the angels' wings;
From daisy buds, as they droop and nod,
To the round of stars and their hymn of God.
In dim green woods, on the sounding shore,
'Mid songs of birds, 'mid the torrent's roar,
In churchyards dim, in the sunset glow,
Through autumn winds or the winter snow,
She listened still, for she heard the while
Old-fashioned words that are out of style—

Words rarely spoken at Lester Hall,
Forgotten soon when they fell at all;
Of grand old themes—of the world to be—
Of the Open Door—and the Crystal Sea—
Or tender words that were set afloat
On the faithful air from a fisher's boat—
Of the lilies, safe in the better Care
Than the shining gems of a monarch are.—

Then the hungry soul from its harbor slipped
For a better port, and its Master shipped,
Through the Open Door to the Crystal Sea,
On the sunless light of the "time to be;"
Out of discord, pain, and misplaced endeavor,
Out of worldly care, "out of style," for ever.

Then the wounded hearts, as they saw her go,
Lighter held the earth and its shining show,
Learning all too late, as they weep to-day,
That an angel tarried, but could not stay.