Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: III. Memory
The Brier-Wood Pipe
Charles Dawson Shanly (1811–1875)
 
HA! bully for me again, when my turn for picket is over,
And now for a smoke as I lie, with the moonlight, out in the clover.
 
My pipe, it ’s only a knot from the root of a brier-wood tree,
But it turns my heart to the Northward—Harry gave it to me.
 
And I ’m but a rough at best, bred up to the row and the riot;        5
But a softness comes over my heart, when all are asleep and quiet.
 
For, many a time, in the night, strange things appear to my eye,
As the breath from my brier-wood pipe curls up between me and the sky.
 
Last night a beautiful spirit arose with the wisping smoke;
O, I shook, but my heart felt good, as it spread out its hands and spoke;        10
 
Saying, “I am the soul of the brier; we grew at the root of a tree
Where lovers would come in the twilight, two ever, for company.
 
“Where lovers would come in the morning—ever but two, together;
When the flowers were full in their blow; the birds, in their song and feather.
 
“Where lovers would come in the noontide, loitering—never but two,        15
Looking in each other’s eyes, like pigeons that kiss and coo.
 
“And O, the honeyed words that came when the lips were parted,
And the passion that glowed in the eyes, and the lightning looks that darted!
 
“Enough: Love dwells in the pipe—so ever it glows with fire!
I am the soul of the bush, and the spirits call me Sweet Brier.”        20
 
That ’s what the brier-wood said, as nigh as my tongue can tell,
And the words went straight to my heart, like the stroke of the fire-bell.
 
To-night I lie in the clover, watching the blossomy smoke;
I ’m glad the boys are asleep, for I ain’t in the humor to joke.
 
I lie in the hefty clover: up between me and the moon        25
The smoke of my pipe arises; my heart will be quiet, soon.
 
My thoughts are back in the city, I ’m everything I ’ve been;
I hear the bell from the tower, I run with the swift machine,
 
I see the red shirts crowding around the engine-house door,
The foreman’s hail through the trumpet comes with a hollow roar.        30
 
The reel in the Bowery dance-house, the row in the beer-saloon,
Where I put in my licks at Big Paul, come between me and the moon.
 
I hear the drum and the bugle, the tramp of the cow-skin boots,
We are marching on our muscle, the Fire-Zouave recruits!
 
White handkerchiefs wave before me—O, but the sight is pretty        35
On the white marble steps, as we march through the heart of the city.
 
Bright eyes and clasping arms, and lips that bade us good hap;
And the splendid lady who gave me the havelock for my cap.
 
O, up from my pipe-cloud rises, there between me and the moon,
A beautiful white-robed lady; my heart will be quiet, soon.        40
 
The lovely golden-haired lady ever in dreams I see,
Who gave me the snow-white havelock—but what does she care for me?
 
Look at my grimy features; mountains between us stand:
I with my sledge-hammer knuckles, she with her jewelled hand!
 
What care I?—the day that ’s dawning may see me, when all is over,        45
With the red stream of my life-blood staining the hefty clover.
 
Hark! the reveille sounding out on the morning air;
Devils are we for the battle—  Will there be angels there?
 
Kiss me again, Sweet Brier, the touch of your lip to mine
Brings back the white-robed lady with hair like the golden wine!        50
 
 
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