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To the Savior

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

Note from the blogger: I set this poem to music several years ago, but am still fiddling with the harmony. I’ll probably share it here on Ziphen Central once it’s done.

When earth smiles in gladness, in fullness, and beauty,
And hope steers our vessels across the blue sea,
We are prone to forget that we owe our first duty
To thee, our Savior, to thee.

When friends are around us, our hearts throb with pleasure;
We make the air vocal with laughter and glee,
Forgetting above we should lay up our treasure
With thee, our Savior, with thee.

But—O!—when clouds rise and loud rolls the deep thunder,
And our vessels are shattered on treacherous sea,
Then we turn, with our sad hearts all riven asunder,
To thee, our Savior, to thee,

Because thy dear face has been oft wet with weeping;
Because thou hast said, “Come, ye weary, to me;”
Because we are watched, whether walking or sleeping,
By thee, our Savior, by thee.

Thou knowest our trials, our every affliction;
Thine ear can be reached by the lowliest plea,
And our sad hearts are soothed by a sweet benediction
From thee, our Savior, from thee.

Birdie’s Pet

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

Quietness reigned in the town of C——. The hum of busy everyday life was hushed in the streets, while the closed doors and the sound of church bells proclaimed to the traveler that it was the Lord’s day. Even the green parrot which hung in its gay cage over Jim Carter’s door seemed subdued by the sweet stillness of the morning, and held its tongue where it belonged—in its head.

I said the doors were closed. They were, all but one, and that was where the parrot hung. “Bar” was written over it in big letters, and there was a tall green screen standing just inside to hide the thirsty caller from the passers-by.

“But,” says one, “the law of the land does not allow whisky shops open on Sunday.” But the law only imposes a fine, you see, for so doing; and Jim Carter didn’t care for fines.

“I makes it up in the long run, he said, winking his one eye. “Bless you, Sunday is as good a day as any! I buys my liquors, and sells when I gets ready. I pays my fines, and it’s nobody’s business. Old Jim and the law has a tussle occasionally; but what of it? I does as I pleases.”

On this particular morning he sat sunning himself, like a great, big, bloated spider at the door of his den, and, as usual, a crowd of loafers had collected to keep him company.

“The new parson holds forth to-day, I suppose,” said Joe Bently, a young limb of the law, whose shaky hands and watery eyes proclaimed his habits. He did not add that he had fled from home by the way of a back window, fearing that his pious widowed mother would ask his company to the house of God.

“Yes,” drawled old Jim, “and I thought you’d a-been there; but ‘birds of a feather,’ you know,” he added, with a wink of his eye, giving Joe, at the same time, a dig in the ribs. Read More

Evening Song

Faintly the voices are flying to me;
Fragments and snatches fall here and fall there.
Shall I draw nearer, or will the song flee?

Pines of the forest are dark, yet I see
The light of a fire, all blazing and fair—
Faintly the voices are flying to me.

Strange is the melody, wild, and free,
Chanting of happiness, love, and despair.
Shall I draw nearer, or will the song flee?

Softly I steal through the dim-lighted lea,
Earnestly seeking that uncanny air.
Faintly the voices are flying to me.

Almost I catch it; again it breaks free.
What is this song, so familiar, so rare?
Shall I draw nearer, or will the song flee?

Finally I break through, the brightness I see!
Then blackness, and silence, and nothing is there.
Faintly the voices are flying to me:
Shall I draw nearer, or will the song flee?

Bedtime Hour

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

‘Tis the children’s bedtime hour;
They are murmuring sleepy prayers,
While my thoughts go straying backward
Down the path of the vanished years;
And, evolved from their misty shadows,
One face and form I see:
A dear little boy, with serious look,
Saying his prayers at my knee.

With brown hands closely folded
And dark head bended low,
I hear again the murmur
That the childish lips o’erflow.
“Lead me not into any temptation,
From all evil deliver me,”
Was the nightly prayer of the little boy
Who said his prayers at my knee.

Ah me! with an aching heart beat,
I think how the years have flown
Since that time, and my firstborn
From his mother’s home is gone;
And to-night I pray: “‘Our Father,’
Wherever he may be,
Make him again the good little boy
Who said his prayers at my knee.”

At St. Roque’s

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander. Note from the blogger: St. Roch’s chapel still exists in New Orleans, and greatly resembles the description given by Mrs. Alexander more than a century ago. Here is more information about the cemetery and chapel, and here is a collection of photographs from the place which I found very interesting.

“No visit to New Orleans is complete without a pilgrimage to St. Roque, and you must go there. I have some wishes to make, and will go with you.”

So said my friend, whom I will call “Nell.,” for short.

“Some wishes to make?” I repeated.

“Yes,” she said. “According to an old legend, one may get any wish granted by walking to St. Roque—never stopping on the way—saying a prayer, and making a wish.”

“How easy! And who, pray, might St. Roque be?” I asked.

“O, he was just a saint,” she said, lightly, “a very holy man. I don’t know much about him, but I do know that wishes are granted at St. Roque’s Church. I’ve tried it. I wished once for money, and got it.”

Nell. was not raised a Catholic, but has drifted that way from superstition and association.

Seeing that I was still unbelieving, she appealed to Miss Cecilia, a lovely Creole girl, a native of the city, and a pure and tender lamb of the Catholic fold. Read More