A Poem by Edward Smyth Jones
‘Tis once in life our dreams come true,
The myths of long ago,
Quite real though fairy-like their view,
They surge with ebb and flow;
Thus thou, O haunt of childhood dreams,
More beauteous and fair
Than Nature’s landscape and her streams,
Historic Harvard Square.
My soul hath panted long for thee,
Like as the wounded hart
That vainly strives himself to free
Full from the archer’s dart;
And struggled oft all, all alone
With burdens hard to bear,
But now I stand at Wisdom’s throne
To-night in Harvard Square.
A night most tranquil, – I was proud
My thoughts soared up afar,
To moonbeams pouring through the cloud,
Or some lone twinkling star;
And musing thus, my quickened pace
Beat to the printery’s glare,
Where first I saw a friendly face
In classic Harvard Square.
“Ho! stranger, thou art wan and worn
Of journey’s wear and tear;
Thy face all haggard and forlorn,
Pray tell me whence and where?”
“I came – from out – the Sunny South –
The spot – on earth – most fair,”
Fell lisping from my trembling mouth –
“In search – of – Harvard Square.”
“Here rest, my friend, upon this seat,
And feel thyself at home;
I’ll bring thee forth some drink and meat,
‘Twill give thee back thy form.”
And then I prayed the Lord to bless
Us, and that little lair –
Quite sure, I thought, I had found rest
Most sweet in Harvard Square.
“I came,” I said, “o’er stony ways,
Through mountain, hill and dale,
I’ve felt old Sol’s most scorching rays,
And braved the stormy gale;
I’ve done this, Printer, not for gold,
Nor diamonds rich and rare –
But for a burning in my soul
To learn in Harvard Square.
“I’ve journeyed long without a drink
Nor yet a bite of bread,
While in this state, O Printer, think –
No shelter for my head.
I mused, ‘Hope’s yet this side the grave’ –
My pluck and courage there
Then made my languid heart bear brave –
Each throb for Harvard Square.”
A sound soon hushed my heart’s rejoice –
“The watchman on his search?”
“No!” rang the printer’s gentle voice,
“‘Deak’ Wilson in from church.
O’er there, good ‘Deak’,” the printer said,
“The wanderer in that chair,
Hath come to seek the lore deep laid
Up here in Harvard Square.”
“It matters not how you implore,
He can no longer stay;
But on the night’s ‘Plutonian shore,’
Await the coming day.
I’m sorry, sir,” he calmly said,
“Though hard, I guess ’tis fair,
Thou hast no place to lay thy head –
Not yet in Harvard Square!”
“Good night!” he said, and we the same –
I sighed, “Where shall I go?”
He soon returned and with him came
An officer and – Oh!
“Now sir, you take this forlorn tramp
With all his shabby ware,
And guide him safely off the ‘Camp’
Of dear old Harvard Square.”
As soon as locked within the jail,
Deep in a ghastly cell,
Methought I heard the bitter wail
Of all the fiends of hell!
“O God, to Thee I humbly pray
No treacherous prison snare
Shall close my soul within for aye
From dear old Harvard Square.”
Just then I saw an holy Sprite
Shed all her radiant beams,
And round her shone the source of light
Of all the poets’ dreams!
I plied my pen in sober use,
And spent each moment spare
In sweet communion with the Muse
I met in Harvard Square!
I cried: “Fair Goddess, hear my tale
Of sorrow, grief and pain.”
That made her face an ashen pale,
But soon it glowed again!
“They placed me here; and this my crime,
Writ on their pages fair: –
‘He left his sunny native clime,
And came to Harvard Square!'”
“Weep not, my son, thy way is hard,
Thy weary journey long –
But thus I choose my favorite bard
To sing my sweetest song.
I’ll strike the key-note of my art
And guide with tend’rest care,
And breathe a song into thy heart
To honor Harvard Square.
“I called old Homer long ago,
And made him beg his bread
Through seven cities, ye all know,
His body fought for, dead.
Spurn not oppression’s blighting sting,
Nor scorn thy lowly fare;
By them I’ll teach thy soul to sing
The songs of Harvard Square.
“I placed great Dante in exile,
And Byron had his turns;
Then Keats and Shelley smote the while,
And my immortal Burns!
But thee I’ll build a sacred shrine,
A store of all my ware;
By them I’ll teach thy soul to sing
‘A place in Harvard Square.’
“To some a store of mystic lore,
To some to shine a star:
The first I gave to Allan Poe,
The last to Paul Dunbar.
Since thou hast waited patient, long,
Now by my throne I swear
To give to thee my sweetest song
To sing in Harvard Square.”
And when she gave her parting kiss
And bade a long farewell,
I sat serene in perfect bliss
As she forsook my cell.
Upon the altar-fire she poured
Some incense very rare;
Its fragrance sweet my soul assured
I’d enter Harvard Square.
Reclining on my couch, I slept
A sleep sweet and profound;
O’er me the blessed angels kept
Their vigil close around.
With dawning’s smile, my fondest hope
Shone radiant and fair:
The Justice cut each chain and rope
‘Tween me and Harvard Square!
Cell No. 40, East Cambridge Jail, Cambridge, Mass., July 26, 1910