Poems from The Household Book of Poetry

The Household Book of Poetry,collected and edited by Charles A. Dana, went through several editions from 1857-1872; according to the Appleton Encyclopedia of 1911, it is " a collection of the best minor poems of the English language." It contains poems from several countries (largely Great Britain and the United States) and several eras. Many of the poems are by well-known authors such as Matthew Arnold, William Wordsworth, Robert Burns, William Cullen Bryant, and Robert Herrick, but others are nearly forgotten today (John Sullivan Dwight, Thomas Hill, and Amelia Welby, for example). Poe is represented; Whitman is not.

The book is organized thematically, with poems arranged according to these categories (in this order):

Poems of Nature
Poems of Childhood
Poems of Friendship
Poems of Love
Poems of Ambition

Poems of Comedy
Poems of Tragedy and Sorrow
Poems of the Imagination
Poems of Sentiment and Reflection
Poems of Religion

From the Preface: "The purpose of this book is to comprise within the bounds of a single volume whatever is truly beautiful and admirable among the minor poems of the English language. In executing this design, it has been the constant endeavor of the Editor to exercise a catholic as well as a severe taste; and to judge every piece by its poetical merit solely, without regard to the name, nationality, or epoch of its author. Especial care has also been taken to give every poem entire and unmutilated, as well as in the most authentic form which could be procured; though the earliest edition of an author has sometimes been preferred to a later one, in which the alterations have not always seemed to be improvements.

The arrangement of the book will be seen to be somewhat novel; but it is hoped that it may be found convenient o the reader, and not altogether devoid of aesthetic congruity. . . ."

Review of the first edition (1858)

"The Voice of the Grass" by Sarah Roberts  
H ERE I come creeping, creeping everywhere;  
    By the dusty roadside,  
    On the sunny hill-side,  
    Close by the noisy brook,  
    In every shady nook,         5
I come creeping, creeping everywhere.  
Here I come creeping, smiling everywhere;  
    All around the open door,  
    Where sit the aged poor;  
    Here where the children play,         10
    In the bright and merry May,  
I come creeping, creeping everywhere.  
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;  
    In the noisy city street  
    My pleasant face you 'll meet,         15
    Cheering the sick at heart  
    Toiling his busy part,—  
Silently creeping, creeping everywhere.  
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;  
    You cannot see me coming,         20
    Nor hear my low sweet humming;  
    For in the starry night,  
    And the glad morning light,  
I come quietly creeping everywhere.  
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;         25
    More welcome than the flowers  
    In summer's pleasant hours:  
    The gentle cow is glad,  
    And the merry bird not sad,  
To see me creeping, creeping everywhere.         30
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere:  
    When you 're numbered with the dead  
    In your still and narrow bed,  
    In the happy spring I 'll come  
    And deck your silent home—         35
Creeping, silently creeping everywhere.  
Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;  
    My humble song of praise  
    Most joyfully I raise  
    To Him at whose command         40
    I beautify the land,  
Creeping, silently creeping everywhere.

"Reve du Midi" by Rose Terry (Cooke)

When o'er the mountain steeps
The hazy noontide creeps,
And the shrill cricket sleeps
Under the grass;
When soft the shadows lie
And clouds sail o'er the sky,
And the idle winds go by,
With the heavy scent of blossoms as they pass--

Then when the silent stream
Lapses as in a dream,
And the water-lilies gleam
Up to the sun;
When the hot and burdened day
Rests on its downward way,
When the moth forgets to play
And the plodding ant may dream her work is done--

Then, from the noise of war
And the din of earth afar,
Like some forgotten star
Dropt from the sky--
The sounds of love and fear,
All voices sad and clear,
Banished to silence drear--
The willing thrall of trances sweet I lie.

Some melancholy gale
Breathes its mysterious tale,
Till the rose's lips grow pale
With her sighs;
And o'er my thoughts are cast
Tints of the vanished past,
Glories that faded fast,
Renewed to splendor in my dreaming eyes.

As poised on vibrant wings,
Where its sweet treasure swings,
The honey-lover clings
To the red flowers--
So, lost in vivid light
So, rapt from day and night,
I linger in delight,
Enraptured o'er the vision-freighted hours.

"Why thus Longing" by Harriet Winslow

W HY thus longing, thus for ever sighing,
  For the far-off, unattained, and dim,
While the beautiful, all round thee lying,
  Offers up its low, perpetual hymn?
Wouldst thou listen to its gentle teaching,         5
  All thy restless yearnings it would still;
Leaf and flower and laden bee are preaching
  Thine own sphere, though humble, first to fill.
Poor indeed thou must be, if around thee
  Thou no ray of light and joy canst throw—         10
If no silken cord of love hath bound thee
  To some little world through weal and woe;
If no dear eyes thy fond love can brighten—
  No fond voices answer to thine own;
If no brother's sorrow thou canst lighten,         15
  By daily sympathy and gentle tone.
Not by deeds that win the crowd's applauses,
  Not by works that give thee world-renown,
Not by martyrdom or vaunted crosses,
  Canst thou win and wear the immortal crown!         20
Daily struggling, though unloved and lonely,
  Every day a rich reward will give;
Thou wilt find, by hearty striving only,
  And truly loving, thou canst truly live.
Dost thou revel in the rosy morning,         25
  When all nature hails the lord of light,
And his smile, the mountain-tops adorning,
  Robes yon fragrant fields in radiance bright?
Other hands may grasp the field and forest,
  Proud proprietors in pomp may shine;         30
But with fervent love if thou adorest,
  Thou art wealthier—all the world is thine.
Yet if through earth's wide domains thou rovest,
  Sighing that they are not thine alone,
Not those fair fields, but thyself, thou lovest,         35
  And their beauty and thy wealth are gone.
Nature wears the color of the spirit;
  Sweetly to her worshipper she sings;
All the glow, the grace she doth inherit,
  Round her trusting child she fondly flings.         40


"Loss and Gain" by Nora Perry

When the baby died, we said,
With a sudden, secret dread:
"Death, be merciful, and pass;--
Leave the other!"--but alas!

While we watched he waited there
One foot on the golden stair,
One hand beckoning at the gate,
Till the home was desolate.

Friends say, "It is better so,
Clothed in innocence to go;"
Say, to ease the parting pain,
That "your loss is but their gain."

Ah! the parents think of this!
But remember more the kiss
From the little rose-red lips;
And the print of finger-tips.

Left upon the broken toy,
Will remind them how the boy
And his sister charmed the days
With their pretty, winsome ways.

Only time can give relief
To the weary, lonesome grief:
God's sweet minister of pain
Then shall sing of loss and gain.