10/09 Two CreedsLee
10/09 To A FezLee
10/09 A Thanksgiving ToastLee
The Field of ArdathLee

Table of Contents

Franklyn W. Lee                                                     .
  1. The White Leather Apron
  2. Two Creeds
  3. To A Fez
  4. A Thanksgiving Toast
  5. Non-Masonic Poems
  6. Friends In The Desert
  7. The Field of Ardath (fragment - full text in Dreamy Hours)
  8. Little Moccasined Feet (fragment - full text in Dreamy Hours)
  9. Ready To Fight (fragment)
  10. Perpetuity
  11. God's Monograms

  12. Dreamy Hours - Table of Contents
    A Brief Biography by Owen Lorion
    Eulogy for Frank Lee by John Talman


We've had the first 3½ verses of this piece in our anonymous file for a long time, under the title "A Toast To The Lambskin," but just discovered the author in Jan.'08, along with the rest of what's on this page.
okl.

addenda: This poem is often confused with another also entitled "The White Leather Apron" by D.W. Clements which also begins similarly.
okl.

The White Leather Apron

Here's a toast to the Lambskin, more ancient by far
Than the Fleece of pure gold, or the Eagles of war;
'Tis an emblem of innocence, more noble'r to wear
Than the Garter of England, or Order so rare.

Let the King wear his Purple, and refer to his crown,
Which may fall from his brow when his throne tumbles down;
But the badge of a Mason has much more to give,
Than a kingdom so frail that it cannot long live.

Let the Field Marshal boast of the men he must guide,
Of the infantry columns, and heros who ride;
But the White Leather Apron his standard outranks,
Since it waves from the East, to Death's river-banks.

'Tis the shield of the orphan, and the token of love,
'Tis the charter of faith in the Grand Lodge above,
While the high and the low in its whiteness arrayed,
Of one blood and one kin by its magic are made.

Kingdoms fall to earth, and cities crumble to dust,
Men are born but to die, swords are made but to rust;
But the White Leather Aprons, through ages passed on,
Have survived with the Lodge of the Holy Saints John.

So a Toast to the Lambskin, which levels, uplifts,
To the White Leather Apron, most priceless of gifts,
'Tis the badge of a Mason, more ancient by far
Than the Fleece of pure gold, or the Eagles of war.

September 1892



Two Creeds

"I worship God in ivied cloister cell,
Or kneel in some cathedral aisle,
Where glaring golden sunbeams never dwell
And priestly ban excludes a smile.
From dusty tomes I learn the better way,
To emulate the saints of old,
To pray, to scourge, to fast, while others stray
Outside the wall, to pleasure sold."

"Ah! sweeter far," the other said, "to roam
In God's great temples, where each blade
Of grass excels in eloquence the tome —
'Twas there the lowly Master prayed.
My task, to lift some brother from the mire
And guide a sunbeam to his heart;
To strip his life of all its dark attire,
Until it seems of heav'n a part."



To A Fez

Oh, here's to my fez! — such a wonderful cap
Ne'er was worn by old Merlin the wise;
There's magic galore in its tassel and nap
And it banishes mists from my eyes.
Its red lends a rose-tint to visions it brings.
And the Arabic letters inside
An abracadabra seem, one of those things
Which the conjurers cherish with pride.

But greater the potency gained from the fact
That it oft crowns a woman's dark hair,
And heightens the beauties that daily distract
The proud lover who places it there.
The color becomes her, brings out the rich tints
Of her face Oriental and sweet —
She looks like the daughter of some Eastern prince,
With a tow-headed bard at her feet.

The baby — God bless her! — has worn it at play,
And the tassel has mixed with the gold
Of tresses like sunshine, her eyes of mist-gray
Quick disarming me ere I could scold.
For no one could take it away from her then,
Such a quaint little picture she makes,
As, scampering from me, she steals back again
And with half-suppressed merriment shakes.

So, here's to my fez — 'tis a wonderful thing!
In the sad, lonely hours of the night,
When Fancy is dull and my muse will not sing,
I no stimulants seek in my plight;
But go to the bookcase that stands in the room
And appeal to my charm-laden fez.
And lo! as I don it I'm free from my gloom
And I revel 'mid fair images.



A Thanksgiving Toast


Oh, the dear old absent faces,
With their sunniness and graces —
How we miss them when we gather
in the gloomy after days!
For the circle of our friendship
Loses half its loving kinship
In the thought that they have left us,
gone for aye upon their ways.

The wheels revolve and turn the glass;
The sands of life too quickly pass;
The pitcher breaks; the silver cord
Is loosed, and all have their reward.

There were some whose happy smiling
Conquered Time with sweet beguiling;
There were others whose soft touches
made us all forget Life's pain;
There were those with fancies teeming,
Who entranced us with their dreaming,
And the witty and the thoughtful,
who will ne'er return again.

The wheels revolve and turn the glass;
The sands of life too quickly pass;
We are but driftwood and we glide,
Each to his channel, with the tide.

Ah! those mute and empty places —
All suggestive of dear faces —
How they fill the soul with longing
and the aching heart with woe!
For we love those who have left us,
Of whom destiny bereft us,
And their spirits linger near us,
wheresoe'er the clay may go.

The wheels revolve and turn the glass;
The sands of life are doomed to pass;
True friends ne'er part, though oceans vast
Divide the present from the past.

So, in every hour of pleasure,
Let each true heart beat in measure
With the rhythmic strains which Memory
can conjure up at will.
Give to Death a tear of sorrow
And for Life some sweet phase borrow,
Ne'er forget the dead and living, who,
though gone, are near us still.

The wheels revolve and turn the glass;
The sands of life soon cease to pass;
The curse of man — unhappy lot —
Is that he is too soon forgot.



Nothing particularly Masonic about this, but it's a nice poem, and one of only a few we could find [before the book below showed up] by this author.
okl.

Friends In The Desert

An Arab, who across the lonely desert fared,
Sought rest in an oasis on his dreary way,
And there found one who gladly with him shared —
Who gave an Arab's welcome and drove care away.

They parted: and each camel's stride left far behind
The green oasis and the stranger-friend new found:
Yet in his tent, surrounded by his tribal kind,
The first bethought him of that one day's quiet round.

He told his kindred of the stranger he had met;
But still the tale of friendship found no lodgment there.
Quoth one: "You knew this stranger but a day, and yet
Would give him place, nor let old friends his kingdom share."

"'Tis true, Ben Ali," said the first. His voice was low
And sweet and tender as he turned to him that spoke.
"'Twas but a day; but in that day I feel — I know —
That soul met soul and souls on higher planes awoke.

"Each met a stranger and in him a friend discerned;
Each drank the holy waters of the well of Truth;
Each fed the mystic flame that in each bosom burned,
And perfect friendship had the strength of perfect youth."

Ben Ali laughed; the others lightly jeered and sneered.
"Shall one poor day," they cried in scorn, "such friendship lend?"
And he that held it neither sneers nor laughter feared,
But asked the Prophet's blessing on his stranger-friend.

Addendum: Since this page was first posted Dreamy Hours (1890), a book of Franklyn's poetry, has appeared on the Web at the Internet Archive and at Google Books. It's not a book of Masonic poems, so we won't print the text here, but we will give you the hyperlinked Table of Contents.

Title Page i
Dedication iii
Dreamers 5
Before She Came 7
A Cynicism 8
A Legend of Minnetonka9
Little Moccasined Feet12
Grant 14
A Woman's Smile 15
In the Shadow by the Gate16
The Brownies of Sleep18
Uncertainty 20
At Midnight 21
Mutability * 22
A Smoker to His Pipe23
The Dream Child 25
Two Creeds 27
Forever 28
A Thanksgiving Toast29
The Answer 31
Les Sirenes 33
Marier's Baby.. , 35
A Child's Kiss 39
Colice 40
Her Tam o' Shanter 41
The Absent Wife 42
While the Flower Crept44
A Bit of Lace 45
What Mockery! 47
Baby Jerome 48
A Maddening Might-Have-Been49
Let Us Give Thanks 51
Marilla 53
The Wife 55
A Reporter's Valentine56
Dead Dreams 57
The Philosophy of Remembrance59
A Childless Hearth 61
Post-Nuptial Iconoclasm62
The Field of Ardath 63
An Echo of "Faust" 65
Bohemia — Utopia 67
Bill Nye 69
Golden Beads 70
Cigarettes and Roses71
'Tis Better to Die 73
A Dream of Karma 74
To a Fez 76
Villanelle 78
Table of Contents 79
* We had this one from another source, which gave it a date of 1886.


Franklyn Warner Lee (1864-1898)

(These are just a few basics taken from the fuller biography which follows.)

Brother Frank Lee was born in New York City, June 16, 1864. At that time his father, a Union soldier, was in the Confederate prison of Andersonville. His father survived the war, but passed away while Franklyn was still young. At the age of fourteen the boy left the New York public schools and began earning his own living. In 1881, with his widowed mother and younger brother, he moved West, settling at Des Moines, where he supported the family at first as a retail clerk. But while he was working at menial tasks, he was also developing his talents in writing verse and in amateur journalism. The latter developed into professional journalism when he took the opportunity to become city editor of the Des Moines Daily News. In 1887 Mr. Lee moved to St. Paul to join the Daily News, and when that paper folded, the St. Paul Dispatch. He was a gifted public speaker, and in those days before television and movies, he was a popular entertainer with his humorous monologues and recitations of his poems, particularly the dialect ones. In 1896 Mr. Lee who had been in poor health for years, moved to Rush City, Minnesota, where he had purchased a weekly, The Post. He died there just two years later, March 18, 1898. The Maine had been sunk just a month before, which precipitated the Spanish-American War, declared a month after his death; it is somewhat ironic that this peaceful man was born in the agony of the Civil War, and wrote his last poem in support of another conflict.

It was while Franklyn was living in Iowa that he met his wife, Marilla Upright, at a Lutheran social group. They wed in 1886. They had two children who were still only 7 and 10 when their father died. He was an exceptionally attentive family man, and during the several years of illness leading up to his death he and his wife, also a noted platform speaker, worked closely together.

One of his obituaries summed up his life thus, "In his heart there was nothing unworthy." He felt perfectly satisfied if a single man, woman or child had been made happier or better through something he had written. If there was any overarching theme to his writing, it was that: "there was nothing unworthy." He wrote of tiny things; a breath, a wilted flower, a child's footsteps. Even in his only surviving Masonic poem, he writes of something humble, an apron, but makes the reader realize how great that small thing really is. There was, to Franklyn W. Lee, nothing unworthy.

okl.



An item in the May 1898 issue of The Midland Monthly Magazine:

John Talman, of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, will contribute to the June MIDLAND a sketch of the late Franklyn W. Lee, and a review of his prose and poetical works. Mr. Talman and the subject of his sketch were associate members of the Press Club of St. Paul, and were intimate friends Those of us who knew the rare worth of Frank Lee, and the promise he gave of attaining a high place in literature, were shocked and grieved at his untimely death, and will feel a sense of gratitude to Mr. Talman for his labor of love.


The Midland Monthly Magazine, June 1898, pp.139-144.

FRANKLYN WARNER LEE

by John Talman

With one exception, the poet, novelist, playwright and newspaper man who died at Rush City, Minn., March 18, 1898, was the most considerable literary figure in Minnesota. That exception is a writer who follows to tally different and purely independent lines, and although more famous, is not, relatively speaking, more meritorious than the subject of this paper. To the public, naturally, Mr. Lee was merely a writer. To the inner circle of his acquaintance — which was very wide — he was much more. He was a man, in every conceivable sense of the word — brave, steadfast, strenuous, honorable, kind. Every day of his busy life did he defy and surmount difficulties that would appall one of less heroic texture. Incessant toil was his. Delicate and far from robust was the fleshly housing of his unconquered and unconquerable soul. The handicap of combined evils — of which ill health was almost a minor item that ever oppressed him, far from breaking, actually spurred and strengthened the tameless spirit that never said die. For the last five of his few years, he realized every hour that a mortal disease had set its seal upon him. Not a murmur; not a groan. Nothing but that incessant toil; nothing but the same cheery word upon his lips, the same sunlight in his blue eyes, as he toiled. As we look back upon the brief but steady light of that incarnate radiance which the tomb's darkness has now quenched forever, there comes to mind the epitaph which some careless hand, not long ago, thrusting aside the moss and ivy of two generations, revealed in a Southern backwoods burying - ground — an epitaph eloquent as any in Westminster Abbey: "She wuz kind to everbuddy." In its obituary notice of Mr. Lee, one of the St. Paul papers said: "There was more genuine manhood packed away in that little body than you often find in giants." The same issue contained this editorial paragraph, which says less than it implies:

In the death of Franklyn W. Lee disappears the visible personality of a potent factor in the literary life of St. Paul and the Northwest. Life at best is the hardest of battles - so hard, indeed, that to live sometimes requires ten times the courage necessary to die; and no man ever fought out his battle to the end, with all its alternating gains and losses, triumphs and defeats, more manfully than Lee did. Ill health, obstacles due both to temperament and circumstance — none of these, nor all of them combined, daunted that hopeful, persevering spirit. Cut off in the flower of his years at thirty-three, an age when most men have barely begun to achieve or deserve success, his taking away is a distinct loss to the literature of the West. Furthermore. It may be said of him — what can be truthfully affirmed of too few departures to the realm of eternal shadow — he is deeply and sincerely mourned as man and friend.

Another St. Paul journal, with which Mr. Lee had been connected several years, appended this to a notice of his successful authorship:

But above all, he was a clean, courteous, generous gentleman, a loving and faithful husband and a father who was a model to his offspring. His private life and personal habits were reflected in the lines of his simple verse, and he was in all things a true, good man. To his widow and orphaned children there will be extended that generous sympathy which he. when living, held for all of those who mourned.

And one of the Minneapolis papers said, O, so much in these simple words: "In his heart there was nothing unworthy."

Heavy indeed is the task assumed by one who knew and loved him — not to lay, with overflowing heart and trembling hand, another wreath of appreciation upou the catafalque of his memory, but also to so divorce mind and emotion as to venture an estimate of his writings that may deserve the indorsement of those who come after.


Franklyn Warner Lee was born in New York City, June 16,1864. At that time his father, a Union soldier, was in the Confederate prison of Andersonville. His mother is Mrs. Mary Lee Tuttle, now of Menlo, Iowa: a lady of keen literary discernment, who has written a number of stories of considerable worth. The father was a boat captain, and young Franklyn, both by force of his surrounding's and natural inclination, early acquired a strong liking for sea and stream, and much of his boyhood time was passed upon the noble Hudson. His ancestry was a mixture of Colonial, New Amsterdam and Spanish blood. At the age of fourteen he left the New York and Brooklyn public schools for the serious business of bread-winning. In 1881, with his widowed mother, he removed to the West, settling at Des Moines, where, for a time, he filled clerkships in different mercantile establishments. From this time on the boy was the sole support of his mother and younger brother. He had from the first a fondness for writing, which was given vent in the field of amateur journalism, so he was well equipped for his duties as city editor of the Des Moines Daily News when that position fell to his hands.

It was in the Iowa capital that he formed the acquaintance of the girl who was to be his wife - Miss Marilla Upright. They were brought together as members of the Christomathean Society, and in December, 1886, at Omaha, they were married. Mrs. Lee, who, with a girl of ten and a boy of seven, survives her husband, has taken up his work as editor and publisher of the Rush City Post, with every augury of a successful career. This lady delivered the principal address at the dedication of the Minnesota building at the World's Fair. The pair were mutually helpful, and, it must be admitted, "chummy" to a degree seldom attained by married couples. Mr. Lee delighted in his children, and derived soothing and upbuilding companionship with them, impregnating their unfolding minds with odd, quaint ideas, and teaching them wisdom beyond their years.

In 1887 Mr. Lee removed to St. Paul to become paragrapher and general writer for the Daily News, which had just been established there. He followed the vicissitudes of this sheet through its seven-year existence, when he took a position with the St. Paul Dispatch. Here, while at intervals bringing out books and stray poems and sketches in The Midland Monthly and other magazines and in leading Western papers, he served as dramatic critic, railroad editor, interviewer and "feature" writer, forming an extended acquaintance, especially among stage folk. In 1896 Mr. Lee, in quest both of more independent station and better health, removed to Rush City, where he had purchased The Post, a weekly; and there he remained till his death, having in that short time lifted his journal to the highest rank in the provincial press. Having several times been prostrated by periods of illness varying in duration, he succumbed to Nature's final decree on the 18th of March last. His death was a severe blow, not only to his immediate family, but to the "troops of friends" who found in his kindly, helpful, generous temperament a prop in many a trying hour, and who knew him most intimately and appreciated him most fully. The funeral, at Rush City, March 20th, was attended by delegations representing the St. Paul and Minneapolis Press Clubs, Free Masons, Elks, Knights Templar, Mystic Shriners, and Order of the Eastern Star, and by the Masons of Rush City and other Northern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin towns. The Episcopalian service was read at the church, and the interment at Rushseba cemetery was wholly under Masonic direction, newspaper men acting as pall-bearers.

A benefit performance was given for the poet's widow, at the Metropolitan opera house, St. Paul, on the afternoon of April 22d, which was, in some respects, the most successful, and, all things considered, the most notable, event of the character ever witnessed in the Northwest. Theatrical companies then playing engagements in St. Paul and Minneapolis, aided by amateur talent, volunteered their services in furnishing a highly attractive program, which comprised a short address on Mr. Lee and readings from his poems. This tribute to the author's memory was not only a token of warm admiration, but an act of grateful reciprocity, as Mr. Lee had on many occasions taken conspicuous part in entertainments of this kind.

Mr. Lee had many accomplishments in addition to his gifts as a writer. He was a rostrum entertainer in constant demand, when his humorous monologues, recitations of his dialect and other poems, etc., supplied thronged auditoriums with pleasure keenly relished. He was a painter who attempted ambitious works, and was also a musician of fair ability, playing the mandolin, violin and other instruments.


To come to Franklyn Lee's real life-work, it must be said in the beginning that he was essentially a dreamer, idolatrously devoted to his ideals, and his main motive was a desire to appeal, through his pen, to the better nature of his fellow-man, to cheer and elevate some desponding and perhaps even sordid soul. He often said he felt perfectly satisfied if a single man, woman or child had been made happier or better through something he had written. Though in the closing part of his career identified with the Episcopal church, he was an ardent Theosophist, a believer in the literal brotherhood of man and the inevitable law of Karma. As a student and interpreter of the occult, he has left us in the story "Two Men and a Girl," published in 1892, a bit of the powerful witchery of "Trilby," with none of its grossness. Many glimpses of this tenuous and all but forbidden region does he give us throughout his published works, as in "The Field of Ardath." in his first volume of poems, "Dreamy Hours" (1890):

Sometimes a vague and shadowy thought is mine —
As of some life in which I ran my race;
A light, whose meanings mind will not define,
Breaks o'er me often when I see a face.
And Reason has a theory evolved
With which my soul has labored long in vain —
My dead self's mystery will ne'er be solved
Until I lie on Ardath's charmιd plain.

This volume contains a number of domestic pieces suggestive of the simple pathos and tenderness of Eugene Field. For example, "Little Moccasined Feet" describes how the poet, sitting in silence and wooing a muse that persists in eluding him, finds the inspiration he seeks in the patter of the feet of his little daughter, who comes to him for a kiss. One seldom chances upon a happier expression of parental solicitude coupled with the parental blessing than the closing stanza:

Two little moccasined feet - ah, me!
Where will they stray in the coming years?
Shall it be into a time less fair.
Marring her life with a cloud of care?
God give her strength for what is to be,
Robbing her sky of its rain of tears,
Leading the trend of her simple life
Far from the world and its vulgar strife.

The following, from "Ready to Fight," is given as a specimen of Mr. Lee's lighter verse. It was his last poetical composition, and was recited with fine effect at the St. Paul benefit by a niece of Edwin Booth:


They think we're kinder rusty, 'n air sure thet Uncle Sam;
Et fightin' modern battles won't be wuth a tinker's dam;
But yer uncle's tough 'n wiry, 'n he knows a trick er two
Thet'll put the smudgy faces in a red hot Spanish stew.

We fit ter beat each other in the days of '61.
'N found it hard to do it, fer the fightin' wuz no fun;
But take us altergether, with an enemy like Spain.
'N we'll give the thrones o' Europe an all-fired pesky pain.

The following is quoted as a revelation of the spiritual and philosophical moods that often calmed the storms and salved the wounds of the poet's inner life. "Perpetuity" is the title:

The rose is dead, but who shall say
That, though its leaves have withered quite,
The perfume has not found its way
To some new plane beyond our sight?

The strings are mute; but can we hold
That music is a fleeting breath,
By limits of our ken controlled
And subject to eternal death?

The lips are silent, and the eyes
Are blind to all that passes here;
But dare we say that in the skies
There is no other, better sphere?

Man knows but little, yet within
There lingers that which whispers thus:
"Death's but the point where we begin
The journey faith hath marked for us.

"The incense of the withered rose.
The music of the silent lute.
Have gone to where the eyes unclose
And lips forget that they were mute."

Mr. Lee's first story, "Finlay Arnon's Fate," was published in book form in connection with his work on the amateur press, at the period when, at sixteen and seventeen years of age, he began the composition of verse. In those days his rhymes occasionally appeared in the New York Weekly and other papers of that class. Later, the death of General Grant called forth a threnody which brought a letter of thankful appreciation from the widow of the great soldier. Our author's first ambitious novel, "A Shred of Lace," dealing with the folly which leads a woman to marry a man to reform him, appeared in 1891, as did also the story "Senator Lars Erikson," an exposition of the higher type of Scandinavians in the Northwest. The next year "Two Men and a Girl" was printed, "Mrs. Harding's Eyes" being included in the same book. By far his best novel, "Mam'selle Paganini," appeared in Godey's Magazine for January, 1894. It has been truthfully pointed out that this, his last, is fitted to rank with "The First Violin" and "Miss Traumerie" as a work of fiction based upon the subject of music and musicians.

Mr. Lee wrote one play, "The Star Gazer," a comedy, which was brought out in the autumn of 1894, and held the boards successfully two seasons. A posthumous drama is now in the hands of a leading eastern theatrical manager for early production. He likewise rewrote the popular extravaganza "Ali Baba," at the instance of Manager Henderson of Chicago.

Mr. Lee's latest poetical publications were issued from his own press in l896 and 1897, in the shape of five dainty and most artistically printed booklets: "Whispers of Wee Ones," child verse; "Lenten Verses," largely vers de societι; "A Bundle of Rushes," dialect; "Hearts," love rhymes; and "The Sphinx of Gold," sonnets. The last, it seems to this commentator upon a life cut short long before its prime, will be eventually settled upon by general consent as the full flower of the genius, the cap sheaf of the attainments, of Franklyn Lee. Under the influence, presumably, of the poet's sense of the nearness of death that could not be deceived, these sonnets are almost unbrokenly religious of tone. Totally devoid of cant, dogma or a leaning toward any narrow churchly creed, they breathe a trustful reliance upon the boundless love and unswerving justice attributed to that Deity in whom the poet was a believer. But O, with what lashes and stilletos for the hypocritical and innately base and unworthy do these carefully wrought fourteen-liners bristle! In them does the Pharisee find himself condemned with biting simile; the false pretender self-revealed by the glow of crisping accusation; the slanderer pilloried by sad reproach; the proud humbled by startling mirage of earth's vanities; the thoughtless warned of the time when the haunting hag Remorse shall shriek in his ear her words of doom — "Too late!" But this is not all the Sphinx has to utter when the seal of stillness upon her lips is broken. Her speech is more than silver. It is more golden than her age-long silence has been. It is tender. It throbs and burns with inspiration. It is mellow with love and sunny with hope immortal. More yet. It reflects the strength that is born of pain and chastisement; it presents the Alexander that springs from the womb of unmoaning endurance. Thus, "God's Monograms:"

Sad stories are the monograms of God.
The heart may sink beneath a weight of woe;
Disease may make the weary hours so slow
That mutiny is roused the while we plod;
Dead hopes may lie beneath a barren sod.
And 'til our fairest dreams, with their brave show,
In empty vapor fade. And yet, we know
That God is good and just; His chastening rod
Afflicts us sorely, but with kind intent:
For in the stripes His monogram appears
And stamps the soul with right development,
So that, when we set forth for higher spheres,
Each has a passport, by the Master sent,
To take him yonder, where there are no tears.

In the land, sea and sky of song. Lee — in mariner's phrase — "boxed the compass." He is suggestive of nearly all systems and epochs of modern French and English verse but one — the always polished and painfully exact, but often bloodless, school of Dryden and Pope. He experimented along the entire line. Common forms were not enough for him. Ballade, rondeau, villanelle — he tried his hand at all, and few were his failures. In body and sentiment, he ran the whole gamut, from the cynical numbers of Lang and the archaic quirks of Dobson back to the calm introspection of Wordsworth, the lusty swing of Bιranger and the scampering grace of the graceless Villon. Like most other poets who affect variety, he produced much that was of little credit to himself, and some that positively shocked his more discriminating friends. He turned out dialect verse — that syntactic monstrosity ever akin to coarseness, even in the most dextrous hands — that sank (or should we say rose?) to the level of doggerel. In more than one of his serious poems there is an unpleasant flavor of artificiality, with manner, rather than matter, the chief concern; and, at times, one is found to be disappointing, if not weak, at the end, and inferior to what comes before — a fatal blemish that every careful workman guards against.

But, in the scales of impartial judgment, the faults of Lee weigh lightly when offset by his merits. Like Shelley, he taught in song what he had learned in suffering. His genius was predominantly lyrical. The patient care, the tenderness, the devotion, the fidelity and the self-sacrifice of the ideal father and husband live in his domestic poems. He probed the human heart with skill and power. The spirit of truth, the elixir of inspiration, the vim of manliness, the shield of clean-mindedness, the flash and mellowness of wit and humor, the pursuit of high ideals and the guiding star of correct principle vivify and adorn his representative verse. Much that he wrote was trifling and ephemeral; but from the dross will Time, the keen-eyed assayer, ultimately rescue some few grains of gold to serve for the permanent enrichment of Western literature.


The chill of the March morning and noontide had softened to a grateful breeze when in the waning afternoon we circled the open grave of Franklyn Lee. Persian rugs not warmer to the feet than the long, slender blades of faded grass that covered the prairie breast of Rushseba, dotted with tiny oaks where rustled the sparse, dead leaves of winter's grey and brown. Nature smiled in possession and prophecy — glad to welcome deep in her bosom at once prodigal son returned and lover true, and prophetic of delicious Junes to be. There he lay. O, heedless world! Did you realize what you had lost? With you he fought what you termed a losing battle. Not so. His, and his alone, the victory. In the retort of that brain the wail of anguish turned to Amphion harmonies that will solace and delight when he who passed by upon the other side is less than a memory. Only the bleeding heart can really sing. When you, O, heartless world! deigned to think of him, you pitied him, no doubt. How very kind! But far sincerer and more constant was the pity he felt for you. One thing more. Let it scorch your conscience with the searing brand of irretrievable regret. Let it pierce the thick, bristly shell of your self-seeking like an electric cautery. He gave you something else in superabundance which you never thought it worth while to bestow upon him — love. In visions that came at will the poet had hidden and unfailing sources of strength and joy that must forever be a sealed book to the thoughtless and unfeeling. He worshiped in the temple where reigns the triune divinity of Truth, Beauty and Purity, and from his orisons at that altar he arose endowed with the power and courage to climb mountains and storm fortresses.

And still the words of the Past Grand Master flowed on, rich with the oil of consolation and the wine of hope for reunion in a life more satisfying than this. Our dead spoke again to whomsoever chose to listen — we knew not whether from the pearly mists of oblivion eternal, or from a sphere that vibrates at the bursts of such music as it cannot be given earth to hear: "Friends, if you but knew how glorious it is to be here you would not mourn!" Then returned to mind the figure of the angel of death limned in the swan song of Paul Hamilton Hayne — that sublime picture of euthanasia:

Through the splendor of stars impearled
In the glow of their far-off grace,
He is soaring world on world,
With the souls in his strong embrace.
Lone ethers, unstirred by a wind,
At the passage of death grow sweet
With the fragrance that floats behind
The flash of his winged retreat.
And I, earth's madness above,
'Mid a kingdom of tranquil breath,
Have gazed on the lustre of love
In the unveiled face of Death.

And the heart and voice of the believer joined fervently in response to the declarations of the burial ritual of that noblest of brotherhoods, so blunting the sting and heightening the majesty of death: "So mote it be!"