In the Cars by George Boyer Vashon

(October 2d, 1864.)
Five fleeting hours, on towards famed Erie Lake,
We’ve traced our course along the varied scene;
And now, that Night has dropped her sable screen,
Let Fancy homeward an excursion take.

The rocking car no more a car doth seem,
But dons the shape of a familiar room;
And in the stead of haziness and gloom,
There all the stars of my affection gleam.

There sits the dear, fond mother of my boys,
Who kneel around her—while, with smile and nod,
Their cousin soothes our latest-sent of God—
Our baby-girl—the crowning of our joys.

And farther, higher, doth my fancy roam;
For, silencing the swift wheels’ iron blare,
Three lisping voices blend into one prayer:
“God bless dear papa! Bring him safely home!”

And, God bless you, my darlings! Gently fall
The bliss of slumber on you. While we pray,—
You at your home, I on my far-off way,—
God, the All-Father, watches o’er us all.

(August 11th, 1865.)
Ten moons have waxed and waned since thus I sung,
Ten moons replete with household joys and griefs:
Joys many, and one sorrow, whose relief
Can only be when years this heart have wrung.

Once more within the cars—yet not, as first,
Amid the turmoil of the murky night.
Lo! to the rearward, glancing spears of light
Tell that the Day-king soon on us will burst.

Will burst in all his full-blown summer pride;
Not lured by love of placid Western stream—
A mate more bounteous now awaits his beam—
He seeks fair Juniata as his bride.

Blest be their union. But no long delay
May make me witness of their plighted joys.
My wife awaits me—my three darling boys;
Let other bards then tune their nuptial lay.

But she, our babe, our latest-sent of God!
Alas, alas, our earliest called of Him!
At thought of her my flooded eyes will dim.
Ah, Father, wherefore fell thy chastening rod?

She may not come, with tottering gait, to greet
Her sire’s return; nor e’er, with gleeful laugh,
Tender her ready lips, whence he may quaff
Fell tides of life than nectar far more sweet.

Ah, no, sweet bud, that didst too early bloom,
The chill March wind hath nipped thy promise fair.
What power, then, may banish our despair?
What spell recall thee from the icy tomb?

Not so! Be ours the hope and faith which tell
That our lost bud blooms ’mong the angel flowers,
That in another life it will be ours,
Forevermore with God and us to dwell.

Ours! On, towards home! My wife, my boys, my niece,
Await me there. Our sainted baby-girl,
In her new state, fairer than orient pearl,
Waits for us all in that wished home of peace.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Aug. 1865.

From: Gardner, Eric; Nielsen, Aldon Lynn; Leonard, Keith D.; Shockley, Evie and Bynum, Tara. “George Boyer Vashon’s “In the Cars”: A Poem and Four Responses.” in American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism, Volume 25, No. 2, 2015, pp. 177-187 from Project MUSE.

Date: 1865

By: George Boyer Vashon (1824-1878)


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