Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

she accompanied him on his reading tours, the last journey they made together being in the summer of '95 to the home of Mrs. Field's girlhood. While his wife was in the company of her old associates, instead of joining them as they expected, , he took advantage of her temporary absence, hired a carriage and visited all of the old scenes of their early associations during the happy time of their love-making.

His association with his fellow-workers was equally congenial. No man who had ever known him felt the slightest hesitancy in approaching him. He had the happy faculty of making them always feel welcome. It was a common happening in the Chicago newspaper office for some tramp of a fellow, who had known him in the days gone by, to walk boldly in and blurt out, as if confident in the power of the name he spoke—“ Is 'Gene Field here? I knew 'Gene Field in Denver, or I worked with Gene Field on the ‘Kansas City Times.' These were sufficient passwords and never failed to call forth the cheery voice from Field's roomThat's all right, show him in here, he's a friend of mine.”

One of Field's peculiarities with his own children was to nickname them. When his first daughter was born he called her “ Trotty," and, although she is a grown-up woman now, her friends still call her “ Trotty.” The second daughter is called “Pinny” after the child opera “Pinafore,” which was in vogue at the time she was born. Another, a son, came into the world when everybody was singing “Oh My! Ain't She a Daisy.” Naturally this fellow still goes by the name of

Daisy Two other of Mr. Field's children are known as “Googhy” and Posy.”

Eugene Field was born in St. Louis, Missouri, September 2, 1850. Part of his early life was passed in Vermont and Massachusetts. He was educated in a university in Missouri. From 1873 to 1883 he was connected with various newspapers in Missouri and Colorado. He joined the staff of the Chicago “ Daily News 1883 and removed to Chicago, where he continued to reside until his death, twelve years later. Of Mr. Field's books, " The Denver Tribune Primer” was issued in 1882 ; “Culture Garden” (1887); “ Little Book of Western Friends ” (1889); and “ Little Book of Profitable Tales” (1889).

Mr. Field was not only a writer of child verses, but wrote some first-class Western dialectic verse, did some translating, was an excellent newspaper correspondent, and a critic of no mean ability ; but he was too kind-hearted and liberal to chastise a brother severely who did not come up to the highest literary standard. He was a hard worker, contributing daily, during his later years, from one to three columns to the “Chicago News,” besides writing more or less for the “Syndicate Press and various periodicals. In addition to this, he was frequently traveling, and lectured or read from his own writings. Since his death, his oldest daughter, Miss Mary French Field (“ Trotty”), has visited the leading cities throughout the country, delivering readings from her father's works. The announcement of her appearance to read selections from the writings of her genial father is always liberally responded to by an appreciative public.

in

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

• From "A Little Book of Western Verse” (1889). Copyrighted by Eugene Field, and published by Charles Scribner's Son.. Nets of silver and gold have we,

Said Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

'Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed

As if it could not be ;
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed

Of sailing that beautiful sea.
But I shall name you the fishermen three :

Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sung a song,

And they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long

Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish

That lived in the beautiful sea;
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,

But never afeared are we
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,

Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,

And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies

Is a wee one's trundle-bed ;
So shut your eyes while mother sings

Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things

As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three

Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw

For the fish in the twinkling foam,
Then down from the sky came the wooden shoe,

Bringing the fishermen home.

64

[ocr errors]

THE NORSE LULLABY.*
FROM “A LITTLE BOOK OF WESTERN VERSE” (1889).
HE sky is dark and the hills are white

And only the vine can hear her sing :
As the storm-king speeds from the north

Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep-
to-night,

What shall you fear when I am here ?
And this is the song the storm-king sings, Sleep, little one, sleep."
As over the world his cloak he flings:
“ Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep!”

The king may sing in his bitter flight,
He rustles his wings and gruffly sings :

The tree may croon to the vine to-night,
Sleep, little one, sleep!”

But the little snowflake at my breast

Liketh the song I sing the best : On yonder mountain-side a vine

Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep; Clings at the foot of a mother pine ;

Weary thou art, anext my heart, The tree bends over the trembling thing

Sleep, little one, sleep.”

[ocr errors]

* Copyright, Charles Scribner's Sons.

[blocks in formation]

E

EW writers of homely verse have been more esteemed than Will

Carleton. His poems are to be found in almost every book of selections for popular reading. They are well adapted to recitation and are favorites with general audiences. With few exceptions they are portraitures of the humorous side of rural life and frontier

scenes; but they are executed with a vividness and truth to nature that does credit to the author and insures their preservation as faithful portraits of social conditions and frontier scenes and provincialisms which the advance of education is fast relegating to the past.

Will Carleton was born in Hudson, Michigan, October 21, 1845. His father was a pioneer settler who came from New Hampshire. Young Carleton remained at home on the farm until he was sixteen years of age, attending the district school in the winters and working on the farm during the summers. At the age of sixteen he became a teacher in a country school and for the next four years divided his time between teaching, attending school and working as a farm-hand, during which time he also contributed articles in both prose and verse to local papers. In 1865 he entered Hillsdale College, Michigan, from which he graduated in 1869. Since 1870 he has been engaged in journalistic and literary work and has also lectured frequently in the West. It was during his early experiences as a teacher in “ boarding round" that he doubtless gathered the incidents which are so graphically detailed in his

poems. There is a homely pathos seldom equalled in the two selections “Betsy and I Are Out” and “How Betsy and I Made Up” that have gained for them a permanent place in the affections of the reading public. In other of his poems, like “Makin' an Editor Outen Him,” “A Lightning Rod Dispenser,” “The Christmas Baby," etc., there is a rich vein of humor that has given them an enduring popularity. “The First Settler's Story” is a most graphic picture of pioneer life, portraying the hardships which early settlers frequently endured and in which the depressing homesickness often felt for the scenes of their childhood and the far-away East is pathetically told.

Mr. Carleton's first volume of poems appeared in 1871, and was printed for private distribution. “Betsy and I Are Out” appeared in 1872 in the “Toledo Blade." It was copied in “Harper's Weekly," and illustrated. This was really the author's first recognition in literary circles. In 1873 appeared a collection of his poems entitled “Farm Ballads,” including the now famous selections, “Out of the Old House, Nancy,” “Over the Hills to the Poorhouse,” “Gone With a Handsomer Man,” and “How Betsy and I Made Up.” Other well-known volumes by the same author are entitled “Farm Legends,” “Young Folk's Centennial Rhymes,” “Farm Festivals,” and “City Ballads."

in his preface to the first volume of his poems Mr. Carleton modestly apologizes for whatever imperfections they may possess in a manner which gives us some insight into his literary methods. "These poems,” he writes, “have been written under various, and in some cases difficult, conditions: in the open air, with team afield; in the student's den, with ghosts of unfinished lessons hovering gloomily about; amid the rush and roar of railroad travel, which trains of thought are not prone to follow; and in the editor's sanctum, where the dainty feet of the muses do not often deign to tread.”

But Mr. Carleton does not need to apologize. He has the true poetic instinct. His descriptions are vivid, and as a narrative versifier he has been excelled by few, if indeed any depicter of Western farm life.

Will Carleton has also written considerable prose, which has been collected and published in book form, but it is his poetical works which have entitled him to public esteem, and it is for these that he will be longest remembered in literature.

BETSY AND I ARE OUT.*

her own.

couldn't agree.

RAW up the papers, lawyer, and make 'em | I had my various failings, bred in the flesh and bone, good and stout,

And Betsy, like all good women, had a temper of For things at home are cross-ways, and

Betsy and I are out,We who have worked together so long as the first thing, I remember, whereon we disagreed, man and wife

Was somethin' concerning beaven-a difference in our Must pull in single harness the rest of our creed ; nat'ral life.

We arg'ed the thing at breakfast—we arg’ed the “What is the matter," says you? I swan it's hard to

thing at teatell !

And the more we arg'ed the question, the more we Most of the years behind us we've passed by very

well ; I have no other woman she has no other man;

And the next that I remember was when we lost a Only we've lived together as long as ever we can.

COW ;

She had kicked the bucket, for certain—the question So I have talked with Betsy, and Betsy has talked was only-How?

I held my opinion, and Betsy another had ; And we've agreed together that we can never agree; And when we were done a talkin', we both of us Not that we've catched each other in any terrible

was mad. crime; We've been a gatherin' this for years, a little at a And the next that I remember, it started in a joke; time.

But for full a week it lasted and neither of us spoke.

And the next was when I fretted because she broke
There was a stock of temper we both had for a start; a bowl ;
Although we ne'er suspected 'twould take us two And she said I was mean and stingy, and hadn't any
apart;

soul.
* From “ Farm Ballads.” Copyright 1873, 1982, by Harper & Brothers.

with me;

« AnteriorContinuar »