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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By Harry Thurston Peck (1856–1914)

[Born in Stamford, Conn., 1856. Commited suicide there, 1914. Acta Columbiana. 1880.]

AMID the chapel’s chequered gloom

She laughed with Dora and with Flora,

And chattered in the lecture-room,—

The saucy little sophomora!

Yet while (as in her other schools)

She was a privileged transgressor,

She never broke the simple rules

Of one particular professor.

But when he spoke of varied lore,

Paroxytones and modes potential,

She listened with a face that wore

A look half fond, half reverential.

To her that earnest voice was sweet,

And though her love had no confessor,

Her girlish heart lay at the feet

Of that particular professor.

And he had learned, among his books

That held the lore of ages olden,

To watch those ever changing looks,

The wistful eyes, the tresses golden,

That stirred his pulse with passion’s pain

And thrilled his soul with soft desire,

And bade fond youth return again

Crowned with his coronet of fire.

Her sunny smile, her winsome ways,

Were more to him than all his knowledge,

And she preferred his words of praise

To all the honors of the college.

Yet “What am foolish I to him?”

She whispered to her heart’s confessor.

“She thinks me old, and gray, and grim,”

In silence pondered the professor.

Yet once when Christmas bells were rung

Above ten thousand solemn churches,

And swelling anthems grandly sung

Pealed through the dim cathedral arches—

Ere home returning, filled with hope,

Softly she stole by gate and gable,

And a sweet spray of heliotrope

Left on his littered study-table.

Nor came she more from day to day,

Like sunshine through the shadows rifting;

Above her grave, far, far away,

The ever silent snows were drifting;

And those who mourned her winsome face

Found in its stead a swift successor

And loved another in her place—

All, save the silent old professor.

But, in the tender twilight gray,

Shut from the sight of carping critic,

His lonely thoughts would often stray

From Vedic verse and tongues Semitic,

Bidding the ghost of vanished hope

Mock with its past the sad possessor

Of the dead spray of heliotrope

That once she gave the old professor.