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THE HAPPIEST LAND.
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.
THERE sat one day in quiet,
By an alehouse on the Rhine, Four hale and hearty fellows,
And drank the precious wine.
Around the rustic board ;
And spake not one rude word.
A Swabian raised his hand, And cried, all hot and flushed with wine,
“Long live the Swabian land !
“ The greatest kingdom upon earth
Can not with that compare ; With all the stout and hardy men
And the nut-brown maidens there."
“Ha!” cried a Saxon, laughing, And dashed his beard with wine
; “I had rather live in Lapland,
Than that Swabian land of thine!
“ The goodliest land on all this earth
It is the Saxon land !
As fingers on this hand !”
“Hold your tongues ! both Swabian and Saxon!”
A bold Bohemian cries : “If there's a heaven upon this earth
In Bohemia it lies.
“There the tailor blows the flute,
And the cobbler blows the horn, And the miner blows the bugle,
Over mountain gorge and bourn.”
And then the landlord's daughter
Up to heaven raised her hand,
There lies the happiest land !”
He had played for his lordship's levee,
He had played for her ladyship’s whim, Till the poor little head was heavy,
And the poor little brain would swim.
And the face grew peaked and eerie,
And the large eyes strange and bright; And they said — too late — “He is weary!
He shall rest, for at least to-night!
But at dawn, when the birds were waking,
As they watched in the silent room,
With the sound of a strained cord breaking,
A something snapped in the gloom.
'Twas the string of his violoncello,
And they heard him stir in his bed :“Make room for a tired little fellow,
Kind God!” was the last he said.
Alas! little Kitty — do give her your pity -
And her cheeks were so freckled,
They looked like the speckled Wild-lilies, which down in the meadow-lands grew. If her eyes had been black, if she'd only had curls, She had been, so she thought, the most happy of girls.
Her cousins around her, they pouted and fretted,
To do her child's duty,
Not sharing their beauty, Was always neglected and never caressed. All in vain, so she thought, was she loving and true, While her hair was bright red, and her eyes were dull
But one day, alone 'mid the clover-blooms sitting,
Than the wind's, blowing over
The red-blossomed clover, Made her thrill with delight from her head to her
And a voice, sweet and rare, whispered low in the air, “See that beautiful, beautiful child sitting there!”
Thrice blessed little Kitty! She almost looked pretty!
Ruby lips, sunny tresses,
Forms made for caresses,
should know: Though the world is in love with bright eyes and soft
hair, It is only good children the angels call fair !
Two children sat in the twilight,
Murmuring soft and low;
With my boat ahoy! yo ho!
For sailors are most loved of all
In every happy home,
Just as they go or come.”
But the other child said sadly,
“Ah, do not go to sea, Or in the dreary winter nights
What will become of me?
Or thunder shook the sky,
Then he said, “I'll be a soldier,
With a delightful gun,
As heroes have often done.”
While tears – half anger — start, “Don't talk about your wooden legs,
Unless you'd break my heart!” He answered her rather proudly,
“If so, what can I be, If I must not have a wooden leg
And must not go to sea ? How could the queen sleep sound at night,
Safe from the scum and dregs, If English boys refused to fight
For fear of wooden legs ?”