Mrs. Howe and Her Commentator

THE poem entitled Rouge Gagne, by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, has been pronounced by some critics to be her most original and powerful poem, after her Battle Hymn; and one of her oldest friends recently supplied a supplement to it on her late birthday. Both poems are here printed. It is to be remembered that in the game of “Rouge et Noir” the announcement by the dealer, “ Rouge gagne” implies that the red wins, while the phrase “ Donner de la couleur ” means simply to follow suit and accept what comes.


THE wheel is turned, the cards are laid;
The circle’s drawn, the bets are paid :
I stake my gold upon the red.
The rubies of the bosom mine,
The river of life, so swift divine,
In red all radiantly shine.
Upon the cards, like gouts of blood,
Lie dinted hearts, and diamonds good,
The red for faith and hardihood.
In red the sacred blushes start
On errand from a virgin heart,
To win its glorious counterpart.
The rose that makes the summer fair,
The velvet robe that sovereigns wear,
The red revealment could not spare.
And men who conquer deadly odds
By fields of ice, and raging floods,
Take the red passion from the gods.
Now Love is red, and Wisdom pale,
But human hearts are faint and frail
Till Love meets Love, and bids it hail.
I see the chasm, yawning dread ;
I see the flaming arch o’erhead:
I stake my life upon the red.


“ I stake my life upon the red ! ”
With hair still golden on her head,
Dame Julia of the Valley said.
But Time for her has plans not told,
And while her patient years unfold
They yield the white and not the gold.
Where Alpine summits loftiest lie,
The brown, the green, the red pass by,
And whitest top is next the sky.
And now with meeker garb bedight,
Dame Julia sings in loftier light,
“ I stake my life upon the white ! ”