On winter nights beside the nursery fire
          We read the fairy tale, while glowing coals
          Builded its pictures.  There before our eyes
          We saw the vaulted hall of traceried stone
          Uprear itself, the distant ceiling hung
          With pendent stalactites like frozen vines;
          And all along the walls at intervals,
          Curled upwards into pillars, roses climbed,
          And ramped and were confined, and clustered leaves
          Divided where there peered a laughing face.
          The foliage seemed to rustle in the wind,
          A silent murmur, carved in still, gray stone.
          High pointed windows pierced the southern wall
          Whence proud escutcheons flung prismatic fires
          To stain the tessellated marble floor
          With pools of red, and quivering green, and blue;
          And in the shade beyond the further door,
          Its sober squares of black and white were hid
          Beneath a restless, shuffling, wide-eyed mob
          Of lackeys and retainers come to view
          The Christening.
          A sudden blare of trumpets, and the throng
          About the entrance parted as the guests
          Filed singly in with rare and precious gifts.
          Our eager fancies noted all they brought,
          The glorious, unattainable delights!
          But always there was one unbidden guest
          Who cursed the child and left it bitterness.

          The fire falls asunder, all is changed,
          I am no more a child, and what I see
          Is not a fairy tale, but life, my life.
          The gifts are there, the many pleasant things:
          Health, wealth, long-settled friendships, with a name
          Which honors all who bear it, and the power
          Of making words obedient.  This is much;
          But overshadowing all is still the curse,
          That never shall I be fulfilled by love!
          Along the parching highroad of the world
          No other soul shall bear mine company.
          Always shall I be teased with semblances,
          With cruel impostures, which I trust awhile
          Then dash to pieces, as a careless boy
          Flings a kaleidoscope, which shattering
          Strews all the ground about with coloured sherds.
          So I behold my visions on the ground
          No longer radiant, an ignoble heap
          Of broken, dusty glass.  And so, unlit,
          Even by hope or faith, my dragging steps
          Force me forever through the passing days.

This poem is in the public domain. 

Immortal?... No,
they cannot be, these people,
nor I.

Tired faces,
eyes that have never seen the world,
bodies that have never lived in air,
lips that have never minted speech,
they are the clipped and garbled,
blocking the highway.
They swarm and eddy
between the banks of glowing shops
towards the red meat,
the potherbs,
the cheapjacks,
or surge in
before the swift rush
of the clanging trams,—
pitiful, ugly, mean,

In a wood,
watching the shadow of a bird
leap from frond to frond of bracken,
I am immortal.

But these?

This poem is in the public domain.


Let some one hold the book, and ask one of the questions. The answers being all
numbered, the girl or boy who is questioned chooses a number, and the person 
who holds the book reads the answer to which that number belongs, aloud. 
For instance: 

Question. What is your character? 
Answer. I choose No. 3 

Questioner reads aloud: 

No. 3. Gentle tempered, sweet and kind, 
           To no angry word inclined. 


            What Will Be Your Destiny?

1. Just as you think you’ve gained great wealth,
    Something will make you lose your health.

2. Your hair will be white in a single night,
    From having an unexpected fright.

3. You will enjoy a sweet old age,
    So kind and pure, so long and sage.

4. You will fall down at eighty-four,
    And break a dozen ribs or more.

5. You will finish your dayswith God for your friend:
    Who would not be glad of so blissful an end?

6. You will be ever absorbed in books,
    And never give a thought to looks.

7. In peace and plenty you will lie,
    And in the arms of friendship die.

8. You will have cause for many tears,
    To cloud the beauty of your years.

9. Ah, is it so? when you are old,
   you will be very poor, I’m told.

10. In the night-time you will weep,
      And your painful vigils keep.

11. Nothing dreadful, nothing sad,
      Comes to you; for this I’m glad.

12. You always will have an excellent table,
      And full of horses will keep your stable.

13. The Sibyl says you’ll die in Rome,
      Which for a time will be your home.

14. Your plenty and peace
      Will never cease.

15. You will suddenly die in the crowded street,
      If the age of a hundred years you meet.

16. You will ride in your carriage-and-four,
      And be very kind to the suffering poor.

17. Never murmur, never care,
      You will be a millionaire.

18. Sick at heart, and sick at head,
      You will wish that you were dead.

19. As the might of God you see,
      Religious you will ever be.

20. To California you will go
      To get the shining gold, you know.

21. Brightest pleasures you will see,
      And happiness your portion be.

22. Love will gild your joyous life,
      Free from pain and care and strife.

23. Don’t despond, and do not care,
      You will be a nabob’s heir.

24. To California you will be sent,
      But will return as poor as you went.

25. A missionary you will be,
      Far o’er the billows of the sea.

26. It is your destiny to rule,
      And you will keep a village school.

27. Ball and parties you will find
      Alone are suited to your mind.

28. Through the vista of the years
      I see you mourning and in tears.

29. A country life at length you’ll lead,
      Rejoicing in your ambling steed.

30. Fair in the wild and prairied west,
      Your tired frame at length you’ll rest.

31. A public singer’s place you’ll take,
      And a sensation you will make.

32. You’ll only love your native home,
      From which you will not care to roam.

33. A great pianist, you will gain
      Bright laurels from the admiring train.

34. A kitchen garden you will keep,
      And sell fresh vegetables cheap.

35. To higher virtues you will rise,
      Until you’re ready for the skies.

36. To the city’s crowded street
      You’ll direct your willing feet.

37. In digging in a worn-out field
      You’ll see a box, securely sealed,
          Half buried in the ground;
      And therein jewels bright, and gold,
      And bank-notes, in large bundles rolled,
          Will joyfully be found.

38. A music teacher you will be,
      This is your tuneful destiny.

39. You will travel in your prime,
      And view the works of art sublime.

40. You will journey the whole world o’er,
      And gather relics from every shore.

41. The most of your time will be passed on the sea,
      But wherever you are, you will happy be.

42. On an island will you live,
      And nice pleasure-parties give.

43. You will spend your leisure hours,
      In a garden tending flowers.

This poem is in the public domain.