The Coal-Fire

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COME, we 'll light the parlor fire;
Winter sets in sharp and rough.
Wood is dear, but coal's provided,
For three months, I think, enough.
Bring one hod of Lackawanna,
One of Sidney's softer kind,
Mix them well — clap on the blower,
Let the grate outroar the wind.
See — they are coming — the guests I expected,
Not a man's party, o'er punch and cigars;
Sexes must blend in the friends I've selected,
Moonlight must mellow the glittering stars.
Soon will it kindle, the blithe conversation,
Spirits to spirits responsively fit;
Men with their logic and grave moderation,
Women with sentiment, gossip and wit.
Now the softly flaming Sidney
Mixes with the anthracite;
Quickens all its slow-paced ardor
With a fluttering glow and light;
While their heat and radiance blended
Flash in gleams of red and blue,
Filling all the room with sunshine,
Gaily sparkling up the flue.
Lonely was Adam till Eve came to cheer him —
Came to commingle her warmth with his light.
Man is a fossil till woman comes near him,
A rose on his brier — a moon to his night.
Then when the tenderer feminine color
Rims the hard stalk with its delicate gleams,
All his best life growing sweeter and fuller
Wakes in the glow of those holier beams.
Hard and soft in cordial union
Now have fused, like molten wax.
Each a temper gives and borrows —
Each the half the other lacks.
Should they lose their flames and smoulder
With a dull and sullen light,
Stir them up — the sparking Sidney
Soon will start the anthracite.
What — have my guests then exhausted their topics?
Why is this lull in the murmur of tongues?
Where is that breath from the flowery tropics?
Lead to the piano our empress of songs!
Music shall stir us to harmonies hidden,
Flooding to rapture like beakers of wine.
Stories shall move us to laughter unbidden;
Laughter like music is something divine.
Ah, 't is midnight! Are you going?
Parties will break up so soon.
Count not hours so swiftly flowing,
Heed not the high wintry moon.
One more song before we sever,
And the cinders turn to white;
One old story, good as ever!
No? Too late? Ah, well — good night!
Now they have gone with the pale dying embers.
Here in my parlor, still cosy and warm
With the glow of the hearth, how my fancy remembers
Each guest of the evening — each talent and charm; —
The slow-burning fervors of masculine reason,
The swift-glancing flame of the feminine heart; —
And I vow that no fire shall be lit at this season,
But coal of each sex shall contribute its part.

© Christopher Pearse Cranch