Maurice Thompson

Maurice Thompson Poems


I was a rebel, if you please,
A reckless fighter to the last,

I lay close down beside the river,
My bow well strung, well filled my quiver,

Where a bright creek into the river's side
Shoots its keen arrow, a green heron sits
Watching the sunfish as it gleaming flits

Farewell! It is no sorrowful word.
It has never had a pang for me.
Sweet as the last song of a bird,
Soft as a wind-swell from the sea,

A keen, insistent hint of dawn
Fell from the mountain height;
A wan, uncertain gleam betrayed
The faltering of the night.

What bird is that, with voice so sweet,
Sings to the sun from yonder tree?
What girl is that so slim and fleet,

Provence, where love and rhyme
Sweetened one throb of time;
Provence, whose voice is dead,
Whose rose-tree vanishëd;

What is the grandest thought
Toward which the soul has wrought?
Has it the epic form,
And the power of a storm?

O subtle, musky, slumbrous clime!
O swart, hot land of pine and palm,
Of fig, peach, guava, orange, lime,

There is a song some one must sing,
In tender tones and low,
With pink lips curled and quivering,

Where hints of racy sap and gum
Out of the old dark forest come;

Those were good times, in olden days,
Of which the poet has his dreams,
When gods beset the woodland ways,
And lay in wait by all the streams.

So short the time, and yet it seems so long,
Since last I saw thee, O my beautiful!
The very thought is resonant with song,

Flow in upon my soul, O wind of morn!
Touch me with ancient tenderness and faith,
Thou perfumed waft from fields of blooming corn!

The gold-bird came in the May morn
Down fragrant billows of southwest weather:
He fell, like a flame, in the sweet thorn,-

Poised in a sheeny mist
Of the dust of bloom,
Clasped to the poppy's breast and kissed,
Baptized in violet perfume

He laughs by the summer stream
Where the lilies nod and dream,
As through the sheen of water cool and clear

The whelp that nipped its mother's dug in turning from her breast,
And smacked its lusty lips and built its own lair in the West,

He sits among the morning hills,
His face is bright and strong;

When steadily blew the wind from shores of Thrace,
And stirred the vines of Lesbos, loaded down
With racy fruit all round Methymna town,

Maurice Thompson Biography

James Maurice Thompson (September 9, 1844, Fairfield, Indiana – February 15, 1901) was an American novelist. Raised on a Georgia plantation, Thompson first pursued a career as a lawyer. In 1871 he opened a law practice with his brother, William Henry Thompson. He was drawn away from the field of law by the success of articles and short stories published in the New York Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Monthly. As a writer, Thompson became well known as a local colorist, his works ranging from local history to articles about archery. His first book, Hoosier Mosaics, published in 1875, was a collection of short stories illustrating the people and atmosphere of small Indiana towns. He followed it with a successful compilation of his published essays, The Witchery of Archery, which was well received for its wit and use of common language. At this same time, Thompson also published several collections of naturalistic poetry, though they weren't well received at the time. Thompson wrote the poem "To the South" that was reprinted in George Washington Cable's influential and controversial essay, "The Freedmen's Case in Equity" in 1885. This poem expressed Thompson's reaction to the freeing of the slaves, and implied that some other Southerners were not as angry about the overturning of that institution as Northerners presumed. Through the 1880s, Thompson moved into the realm of fiction. His early works featured the common thread of simple southern life, taken mostly from Thompson's childhood. With his 1886 semi-autobiographical novel, A Banker of Bankersville, he returned to his Indiana roots. Arguably his most successful and well-known novel came with 1900's Alice of Old Vincennes. The novel vividly depicted Indiana during the Revolutionary War. Thompson died shortly after its publication, on February 15, 1901, of pneumonia, aged 56)

The Best Poem Of Maurice Thompson

An Address Of An Ex-Confederate Soldier, To The Grand Army Of The Republic


I was a rebel, if you please,
A reckless fighter to the last,
Nor do I fall upon my knees
And ask forgiveness for the past.

A traitor? I a traitor? No!
I was a patriot to the core;
The South was mine, I loved her so,
I gave her all,-I could no more.

You scowl at me. And was it wrong
To wear the gray my father wore?
Could I slink back, though young and strong,
From foes before my mother's door?

My mother's kiss was hot with fight,
My father's frenzy filled his son,
Through reeking day and sodden night
My sister's courage urged me on.

And I, a missile steeped in hate,
Hurled forward like a cannon-ball
By the resistless hand of fate,
Rushed wildly, madly through it all.

I stemmed the level flames of hell,
O'er bayonet bars of death I broke,
I was so near when Cleburne fell,
I heard the muffled bullet stroke!

But all in vain. In dull despair
I saw the storm of conflict die;
Low lay the Southern banner fair,
And yonder flag was waving high.

God, what a triumph had the foe!
Laurels, arches, trumpet-blare;
All around the earth their songs did go,
Thundering through heaven their shouts did tear.

My mother, gray and bent with years,
Hoarding love's withered aftermath,
Her sweet eyes burnt too dry for tears,
Sat in the dust of Sherman's path.

My father, broken, helpless, poor,
A gloomy, nerveless giant stood,
Too strong to cower and endure,
Too weak to fight for masterhood.

My boyhood's home, a blackened heap
Where lizards crawled and briers grew,
Had felt the fire of vengeance creep,
The crashing round-shot hurtle through.

I had no country, all was lost,
I closed my eyes and longed to die,
While past me stalked the awful ghost
Of mangled, murdered Liberty.

The scars upon my body burned,
I felt a heel upon my throat,
A heel that ground and grinding turned
With each triumphal trumpet note.

'Grind on!' I cried, 'nor doubt that I,
(If all your necks were one and low
As mine is now) delightedly
Would cut it by a single blow!'


That was dark night; but day is here,
The crowning victory is won;
Hark, how the sixty millions cheer,
With Freedom's flag across the sun!

I a traitor! Who are you
That dare to breathe that word to me?
You never wore the Union blue,
No wounds attest your loyalty!

I do detest the sutler's clerk,
Who skulked and dodged till peace had come,
Then found it most congenial work
To beat the politician's drum.

I clasp the hand that made my scars,
I cheer the flag my foemen bore,
I shout for joy to see the stars
All on our common shield once more.

I do not cringe before you now,
Or lay my face upon the ground;
I am a man, of men a peer,
And not a cowering, cudgeled hound!

I stand and say that you were right,
I greet you with uncovered head,
Remembering many a thundering fight,
Where whistling death between us sped.

Remembering the boys in gray,
With thoughts too deep and fine for words,
I lift this cup of love to-day
To drink what only love affords.

Soldiers in blue, a health to you!
Long life and vigor oft renewed,
While on your hearts, like honey-dew,
Falls our great country's gratitude.

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