Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Richard Nixon

(1860-    )
Louisiana & Oregon

Richard Nixon was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 21, 1860. During his childhood his parents resettled in New Orleans. For several years he was the Washington correspondent of the New Orleans Times-Democrat. In 1884 and 1885 he was secretary for two expositions held in New Orleans. In 1886 he took up residence in Washington, D.C., where he served for some years as correspondent of the Times-Democrat. It was in Washington, D.C. that he graduated with a Master of Laws in 1893 and then settled in Portland, Oregon where he undertook the practice of law.

[Sources: Edwin Anderson Alderman & Joel Chandler Harris (eds.), Library of Southern Literature 321 (New Orleans: Martin & Hoyt Co., 1910)(1907)(Vol. 15, Biographical Dictionary of Southern Authors, 1929, Lucian Lamar Knight ed.); Thomas M'Caleb, The Louisiana Book: Selections from the Literature of the State 578 (New Orleans: R.F. Straughan, Publisher, 1894)]


The House Immortal

He who would build a house that all may see,
   In Truth should dig the deep foundation ways,
   And lay the corner-stone of Love, and raise
The walls of Steadfastness; then tenderly
Bedeck the halls with Song and Poesy,
   And keep Contentment on the hearth ablaze:
   The windows Hope, the ascending gables Praise,
And over all the roof of Charity.
   Then let the tempests rage, the flames consume;
   Time's self were impotent to seal the doom
Of such a house, where wanderers may find,
   Blazoned in gold above the welcoming portal:
   "Who enters her leaves Hopelessness behind."
   The true home is the heart, and hence immortal.


Sir William Thomson's AŽrolith

Gray, moss-grown fragment of a shattered world,
   Have you at last found peaceful days and rest?
   While lying here upon the meadow's breast,
With tender tendrils round about you curled,
Do you forget the days and ways when, whirled
   Through awful space, you speeded in your quest
   For any shining distant sphere where best
Life's wearied wings might be forever furled?
If, as one says, within your cold embrace
   There sleeps a life long nursed in unseen skies,
      When your dull weight has turned to fertile earth,
Will there sprig forth a flower with star-born face,
   Or strange-shaped butterfly with crystal eyes—
      A dazzling splendor of ephemeral mirth?



Eagle of song, toward your unflinching flight
   I turn the longing of devoted gaze.
   From this dark terrene coign I catch the rays
That blinding fall from your supernal height.
Your wings are rhythm, and your flight is light:
   Beyond all thought or dream of perfect praise,
   You rise to heaven through the uncertain ways
That lie along the borderlands of night.
Teach me the secret of your pulsing breast,
   And all its moving mysteries unfold,
      And how the magic of your might is won:
For now you make youth's tender heart your nest,
   And now you fiercely soar, exultant, bold,
      And gaze unblinded on the equal sun


Poetry in Anthologies

Richard Nixon, "The House Immortal," "Sir William Thomson's AŽrolith," and "Swinburne," in Thomas M'Caleb, The Louisiana Book: Selections from the Literature of the State 578-79 (New Orleans: R.F. Straughan, Publisher, 1894)