My Brother and I

FROM the door where I stand I can see his fair land
Sloping up to a broad sunny height,
The meadows new-shorn, and the green wavy corn,
The buckwheat all blossoming white :
There a gay garden blooms, there are cedars like plumes,
And a rill from the mountain leaps up in a fountain,
And shakes its glad locks in the light.
He dwells in the hall where the long shadows fall
On the checkered and cool esplanade ;
I live in a cottage secluded and small,
By a gnarly old apple-tree’s shade :
Side by side in the glen, I and my brother Ben, —
Just the river between us, with borders as green as
The banks where in childhood we played.
But now nevermore upon river or shore
He runs or he rows by my side ;
For I am still poor, like our father before,
And he, full of riches and pride,
Leads a life of such show, there is no room, you know,
In the very fine carriage he gained by his marriage
For an old-fashioned brother to ride.
His wife, with her gold, gives him friends, I am told,
With whom she is rather too gay, —
The senator’s son, who is ready to run
For her gloves and her fan, night or day,
And to gallop beside, when she wishes to ride :
Oh, no doubt’t is an honor to see smile upon her
Such world-famous follows as they !
Ah, brother of mine, while you sport, while you dine,
While you drink of your wine like a lord,
You might curse, one would say, and grow jaundiced and gray,
With such guests every day at your board !
But you sleek down your rage like a pard in its cage,
And blink in meek fashion through the bars of your passion,
As husbands like you can afford.
For still you must think, as you eat, as you drink,
As you hunt with your dogs and your guns,
How your pleasures are bought with the wealth that she brought,
And you were once hunted by duns.
Oh, I envy you not your more fortunate lot:
I’ve a wife all my own in my own little cot,
And with happiness, which is the only true riches,
The cup of our love overruns.
We have bright, rosy girls, fair as ever an earl’s,
And the wealth of their curls is our gold ;
Oh, their lisp and their laugh, they are sweeter by half
Than the wine that you quaff red and old !
We have love-lighted looks, we have work, we have books,
Our boys have grown manly and bold,
And they never shall blush, when their proud cousins brush
From the walls of their college such cobwebs of knowledge
As careless young fingers may hold.
Keep your pride and your cheer, for we need them not here,
And for me far too dear they would prove ;
For gold is but gloss, and possessions are dross,
And gain is all loss, without love.
Yon severing tide is not fordless or wide,—
The soul’s blue abysses our homesteads divide :
Down through the still river they deepen forever,
Like the skies it reflects from above.
Still my brother thou art, though our lives lie apart,
Path from path, heart from heart, more and more.
Oh, I have not forgot, — oh, remember you not
Our room in the cot by the shore ?
And a night soon will come, when the murmur and hum
Of our days shall fee dumb evermore,
And again we shall lie side by side, you and I,
Beneath the green cover you helped to lay over
Our honest old father of yore.