Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
Biography of Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (August 11, 1836 – December 22, 1919) an American poet born in Lexington, Kentucky to Talbot Nelson Bryan and Mary Spiers. On June 18, 1861 she married John James Piatt, also a poet, as well as a federal employee, eventually serving as an American Consul in Ireland. During her career, she published some 450 poems across fifteen volumes and in leading periodicals of the day. She died in Caldwell, New Jersey.
Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt Poems
This was your butterfly, you see, His fine wings made him vain: The caterpillars crawl, but he
The Old Slave-Music -new-
Blow back the breath of the bird, Scatter the song through the air, There was music you never heard, And cannot hear anywhere. It was not the sob of the vain In the old, old dark so sweet, (I shall never hear it again,) Nor the coming of fairy feet. It was music and music alone, Not a sigh from a lover's mouth; Now it comes in a phantom moan From the dead and buried South. It was savage and fierce and glad, It played with the heart at will; Oh, what a wizard touch it had— Oh, if I could hear it still! Were they slaves? They were not then; The music had made them free. They were happy women and men— What more do we care to be? There is blood and blackness and dust, There are terrible things to see, There are stories of swords that rust, Between that music and me. Dark ghosts with your ghostly tunes Come back till I laugh through tears; Dance under the sunken moons, Dance over the grassy years! Hush, hush—I know it, I say; Your armies were bright and brave, But the music they took away Was worth—whatever they gave.
Hearing the Battle.—July 21, 1861 -new-
One day in the dreamy summer, On the Sabbath hills, from afar We heard the solemn echoes Of the first fierce words of war. Ah, tell me, thou veilèd Watcher Of the storm and the calm to come, How long by the sun or shadow Till these noises again are dumb. And soon in a hush and glimmer We thought of the dark, strange fight, Whose close in a ghastly quiet Lay dim in the beautiful night. Then we talk'd of coldness and pallor, And of things with blinded eyes That stared at the golden stillness Of the moon in those lighted skies; And of souls, at morning wrestling In the dust with passion and moan, So far away at evening In the silence of worlds unknown. But a delicate wind beside us Was rustling the dusky hours, As it gather'd the dewy odors Of the snowy jessamine-flowers. And I gave you a spray of the blossoms, And said: "I shall never know How the hearts in the land are breaking, My dearest, unless you go."
Giving Back the Flower -new-
So, because you chose to follow me into the subtle sadness of night, And to stand in the half-set moon with the weird fall-light on your glimmering hair, Till your presence hid all of the earth and all of the sky from my sight, And to give me a little scarlet bud, that was dying of frost, to wear, Say, must you taunt me forever, forever? You looked at my hand and you knew That I was the slave of the Ring, while you were as free as the wind is free. When I saw your corpse in your coffin, I flung back your flower to you; It was all of yours that I ever had; you may keep it, and—keep from me. Ah? so God is your witness. Has God, then, no world to look after but ours? May He not have been searching for that wild stat, with the trailing plumage, that flew Far over a part of our darkness while we were there by the freezing flowers, Or else brightening some planet's luminous rings, instead of thinking of you? Or, if He was near us at all, do you think that He would sit listening there Because you sang "Hear me, Norma," to a woman in jewels and lace, While, so close to us, down in another street, in the wet, unlighted air, There were children crying for bread and fire, and mothers who questioned His grace? Or perhaps He had gone to the ghastly field where the fight had been that day, To number the bloody stabs that were there, to look at and judge the dead; Or else to the place full of fever and moans where the wretched wounded lay; At least I do not believe that He cares to remember a word that you said. So take back your flowers, I tell you—of its sweetness I now have no need; Yes; take back your flower down into the stillness and mystery to keep; When you wake I will take it, and God, then, perhaps will witness indeed, But go, now, and tell Death he must watch you, and not let you walk in your sleep.
Counsel—In the South -new-
My boy, not of your will nor mine You keep the mountain pass and wait, Restless, for evil gold to shine And hold you to your fate. A stronger Hand than yours gave you The lawless sword—you know not why. That you must live is all too true, And other men must die. My boy, be brigand if you must, But face the traveller in your track: Stand one to one, and never thrust The dagger in his back. Nay, make no ambush of the dark. Look straight into your victim's eyes; Then—let his free soul, like a lark, Fly, singing, toward the skies. My boy, if Christ must be betrayed, And you must the betrayer be, Oh, marked before the worlds were made! What help is there for me? Ah, if the prophets from their graves Demand such blood of you as this, Take Him, I say, with swords and staves, But—never with a kiss!
Army of Occupation -new-
At Arlington, 1866 The summer blew its little drifts of sound— Tangled with wet leaf-shadows and the light Small breath of scattered morning buds—around The yellow path through which our footsteps wound. Below, the Capitol rose glittering white. There stretched a sleeping army. One by one, They took their places until thousands met; No leader's stars flashed on before, and none Leaned on his sword or stagger'd with his gun— I wonder if their feet have rested yet! They saw the dust, they joined the moving mass, They answer'd the fierce music's cry for blood, Then straggled here and lay down in the grass:— Wear flowers for such, shores whence their feet did pass; Sing tenderly; O river's haunted flood! They had been sick, and worn, and weary, when They stopp'd on this calm hill beneath the trees: Yet if, in some red-clouded dawn, again The country should be calling to her men, Shall the r[e]veill[e] not remember these? Around them underneath the mid-day skies The dreadful phantoms of the living walk, And by low moons and darkness with their cries— The mothers, sisters, wives with faded eyes, Who call still names amid their broken talk. And there is one who comes alone and stands At his dim fireless hearth—chill'd and oppress'd By Something he had summon'd to his lands, While the weird pallor of its many hands Points to his rusted sword in his own breast!
Army of Occupation
The summer blew its little drifts of sound— Tangled with wet leaf-shadows and the light Small breath of scattered morning buds—around
Giving Back the Flower
So, because you chose to follow me into the subtle sadness of night,
And to stand in the half-set moon with the weird fall-light on your glimmering hair,
Till your presence hid all of the earth and all of the sky from my sight,
And to give me a little scarlet bud, that was dying of frost, to wear,
Say, must you taunt me forever, forever? You looked at my hand and you knew
That I was the slave of the Ring, while you were as free as the wind is free.
When I saw your corpse in