WIDOW OF THE ROCK
[Blennerhassett, Margaret (Agnew)]
Ne cherchez point, dan’ ce récit, L’esprit, le brillant, l’eloquence,— Je sens bien plus que Je le pense. (Demoustier)
E. V. SPARHAWK, PRINTER.
The generosity already manifested by the public in so extensively subscribing to a work of the merits of which, nothing was given whereby to form an estimate, at the same time that it indicates a favourable impression towards the author, which can not but be highly gratifying, renders doubly painful the consciousness, that she has nothing to offer more worthy of the excited expectations, it however encourages her to hope, that a corresponding liberality will be exerted in extenuation of its demerits. It has been observed, “That for a man of rank and fortune to write verses at all is some merit”—and, consequently, exempts him from a portion of that severity which they must expect who write only for bread, and who have no other claim to notice but their talents to please the public —The author begs leave to request from her judge of the opposite sex, whose strictures she has most reason to dread, that they will, out of pure gallantry, extend the same exemption to another species of the Scribbling Tribe, which for many reasons is equally deserving of the claim, and allow— “That is some merit also, for a female to write verses at all”
Having read and admired much good poetry in her lifetime, the author is competent to appreciate the merit of her own attempts, and consequently aware, that they cannot escape the lash of criticism. She has voluntarily subjected herself to the ordeal of public opinion, and, as the only alternative, it behoves her to submit to it with the best possible grace. If there be any, (tho’ the author is very unwilling to indulge the suspicion) who have placed their names for the purpose of her imprudence, she will only say to them in the words of a much greater poet than herself “Qu’on me critique, mais qu’on me lise,” and then sit down, as regardless of their admonitions as unincensed by their malignity. [unnumbered page]
Nothwithstanding that the hackneyed expressions of—“These fugitive pieces, were composed at odd moments, merely by way of relaxation from severer engagements, and confided only to a few intimate friends, at whose urgent entreaties, they are now offered to the public, &c.”—have become so proverbially disreputable for being adopted to usher into light the crude effusions of half-pay officers, bachelors on short commons, and blue-stocking poetesses, that it may be considered trite even o notice their unpopularity, it is none other but this identical form of apology that she begs leave to use in her own behalf—if indeed apology be necessary. In publishing those pieces where she is made the chief object of light and shade in the picture, the author is willing to incur the charge of egotism, provided, according to her own estimation, and agreeably to the maxim—“That what we feel most we express best,” they be thought to contain the most favourable specimen of her poor abilities.
At the end of the volume are published, with the author’s permission, “A NEGRO’S BENEVOLENCE,” and other poems, by an American gentleman, whose talents, though they may be inadequate to do away the obloquy so unsparingly cast upon the Transatlantic Muses, will be found, it is hoped, to exhibit not a few symptoms of the dawn of better taste, and more vivid imagination. She is happy in being able to present them to the public as a relief to the tedium of her own performances, ad as affording something at least deserving of criticism. [unnumbered page]
[2 blank pages]
WIDOW OF THE ROCK.
WIDOW OF THE ROCK.
(From A Real Occurrence.)
Young lucky, fairest flower of Springfield plains, Was fresh as blossom of the young may-morn; And Reuben, blithest of the village swains, For Lucy and for love alone seem’d born:— To them joy-wing’d was every hour’s return, While sorrow, that on true love ever waits, Lay ambush’d ready to obey the Fates. [unnumbered page]
Their infant years were spent together,—oft Link’d hand in hand, so fondly they were seen, Ranging the fields when spring’s young blossoms, soft And tender in their dress of new-born green With fragrant life and love imbu’d the scene Lost in each other all the livelong day, Life was to them but one full hour of play.
At times their little heads were seen to shoot, And move half-lost amid the tangling grass; Bearing aloft the richly-cluster’d fruit, To add it proudly to the growing mass,— While mutual praises on the pile they pass, Heap’d up for younger urchins,—num’rous fry Who met it ever with devouring eye.[page 12]
Then might you see them by some bank alone, Tearing wild flowers, to strew them on the ground; Or pulling out the balls of thistle-down, To call them birds, and chase them round and round, Laughing till echo caught the jovial sound, To hill and dale repeating as she went, The native strains of youthful merriment.
And often when the wood at rosy dawn, Wak’d its wild harmony and dropt its dews, Stealing out silent o’er the drizzling lawn. Their search the cat-bird’s lowly nest pursues,— She, every step with painful flutt’ring views:— They peep into it, “but they would not touch “Those pretty eggs,—the old birds loved so much.” [page 13]
Two farms at friendly distance were their homes, Whence every day, or to some fav’rite knowl,* Or under some old tree, still constant comes, That which from little task the earliest stole — Ah’ but the hours too swiftly o’er them roll, Thrown on the green, night finds them unawares, Mocking the night-hawk,—pointing at the stars.
*Obsolete in England, but still used in America to denote a little hill.
Whole hours again, all by some noisy brook, Gath’ring white pebbles—white and crystalline — Or, thread for line, and crooked pin for hook, Scouting horn’d-daces, with a vain design:— Their sinless thoughts an undiminish’d mine, Which threw supreme delight o’er every scene, As vivid clouds adorn the blue serene. [page 14]
In such pure joys the happy seasons flow, Years now roll on,—light labour is assign’d And Reuben with his Lucy loves to go Thro’ every little task —one heart, one mind, Their pleasure with their duty so combin’d, That Labor e’en their happiness increas’d, As the brown west sets off the golden east.
Thrice happy childhood! still we turn to thee, In every period of declining life, To mark thy face of unabated glee, Thy heart still beating in continual strife, With present things, thy thoughts thy feelings rue, [page 15] Soon as the noon of life begins to wane, We turn and wish to live it o’er again.
—Thrice happy childhood! tho’ thy sad return More dread than death the human heart affrights? To light the first, hope’s gayest flambeaux burn, Shewing its ever coming new delights, But second childhood, led by borrow’d lights, Sinking midst beings of a second age, May envy those swept off in life’s first stage.
Alas! that happiness is like a flower, It buds in beauty, and in beauty blooms, In beauty blooms and then forgets her power,— In one profusion sheds its rich perfumes, Then to dishonour all its glory dooms; [page 16] Its fragile leaves the rude blast sweeps away And such is happiness,—so short its stay.
Unmark’d the years roll on,—in wedlock join’d, Behold our lovers happy as the pair Who love with new-born innocence combined, Ere sin crept in with selfish earthborn care;— Which more or less is now each mortal’s share— True-love disgusted with the chains of art, Long fled from courts, dwells in the peasant’s heart.
When thro’ the frontier, savage war no more Inspires a kindred people to contend, From every state the tides of settlers pour, As hives in June their colonies forth-send,— Now on their own exertions to depend — [page 17] Reuben with Lucy (all his fortune) blest, Sought out the land of promise with the rest.
But oft his purpose falter’d,—what could move To quit the spot by early youth ador’d? — When every hill confess’d a tale of love, And every tree with some dear thought was stor’d? No other spot could e’er such thoughts afford,— Still would his Lucy be with him,—and where His Lucy was, all scenes alike were fair.
When first this wilderness explor’d, began
To prove the all-subduing energy
That gives the civiliz’d o’er savage man
In forest and in field the mastery,
United on Columbia’s shores we see [page 18]
What thro’ the ancient world time brings to bear,
The three mark’d epochs of man’s hist’ry—where,
The chase, the shepherd’s care, the farmer’s toil, All flourish simultaneous beneath A fertile sky,—where plenty’s sunny smile Reigns o’er the farm, the forest and the heath, There now the settler binds the harvest wreath. Now thro’ the snows, the lessening game pursues, And thus supplies what yet his fields refuse.
Deep in the wild on Susquehanna’s stream, The farm he chose of rich and varied soil, And clear’d a passage to the sunny gleam, Which ne’er before had reach’d its cheering smile. Hope nerv’d his arm, and love smooth’d every toil. [page 19] Then near a babbling brook mark’d out the spot, And fell’d the trees to build his humble cot.
Back from the stream a tow’ring rock upheaves Its steep and spacious front into the air, And at its base a level surface leaves, Where anxious Reuben purposes to rear A roof adapted to his present care, His sturdy stroke rung through the woods around, Scatt’ring the lofty trees upon the ground.
It was a lone retreat into the wild, Where Nature reign’d in undisturb’d repose— There Lucy—(on her breast an infant child,) Would often come at lovely evening’s close To see his toil, and how the pile arose, [page 20] Then future plans employ their happy minds, Till night the lovers in their wandering finds.
Sweet are the works we wholly call our own, They seem a portion of ourselves, and yield A pure delight in foreign things unknown — How swells the settler’s breast to view the field Whose charms by his own hands have been reveal’d Where feudal rights no menial toil command, Nor tyrants suck the fatness of the land! —
Chill winter whitens o’er the leafless wood, And clears a passage to the northern blast,— But now against the rock his cabin stood, Built of rude logs, with elm bark overcast,— Of days of toil to-morrow is the last [page 21] Then to his Lucy home at eve he went, T’ indulge in their reciprocal content.
Blest in each other, swiftly past the hours; Their infant loves they all recounted o’er, — And still from every spot reviving flowers Love pull’d, and from them fragrant freshness bore; This blissful joyance nought could sweeten more At dawn returning to his pleasant task, — Deep threatening clouds the face of morning mask.
And now from all their murky folds they pour, Confusedly the silent-falling snow,— The trees are white,—the ground is seen no more, The loaded hemlock boughs are bending low, Or spring elastic, and their burden throw.— [page 22] The scene of gloom the squirrel only broke, Startling the boughs, and hiding in the smoke.
At length his task is finish’d—night is come, But ah! the lowering clouds too thickly drive, He fain would bear the joyful tidings home, And spend that night the happiest man alive, But it were madness with the storm to strive— He lights a fire against the rock’s rough side, And throws his limbs upon the soft bear’s hide.
That fatal fire, (alas! how like the sun!) For good and evil shed its cheering beams, Which soon of evil the dread work begun, While lulling Reuben in delightful dreams, (In which his Lucy’s form still smiling seems) [page 23] Rous’d from beneath the rock the vip’rous nest, With eyes of fire and death-menacing crest.
Swift to their victim fly the furious train, Coil round his neck, and plant the venom’d sting, Curdled with fear, and writhing in his pain, He feels the hissing tribe around him cling, And in each vein their cureless venom fling,— He seeks the door—resistance all too late, Dives in the snow, and yields him to his fate.
The hardy woodsman that thro hill and brake, Pursues the wolf the panther and the bear, Yet trembles at the hissing rattlesnake,— Avoids his boding hiss with conscious care Nor dares to rouse the reptile from his lair:—[page 24] Quicken’d from torpor, with their bags distent, On him who gave them life their rage they vent.
In distant village Lucy past that night, Her tender bosom torn with boding fear,— Ah! wherefore did not Reuben bless her sight— She looks—but sees no pitch-pine torch appear, Yet long ere this her heart it used to cheer,— And dread, prophetic dread was in her thought, That somehow at the wood mishap was wrought.
She lists the screech-owl’s cry amid the blast, The bear-dog’s howl appals her sinking heart, And every legend of their warnings past, Darts thro’ her mind.—How could she ever part One moment from her love?—Did not the start [page 25] That thrill’d her breast, when from her longing sight, He went this morn, presage all was not right?
The weary night is past in restlessness; At every blast that sweeps, she lifts her head, Hope for a moment quiets her distress,— In every noise she hears his welcome tread; And soon as stormy night is vanished, Her steady purpose cannot be withstood, She seeks her Reuben in the snowy wood.
In his breast still life holds a feeble sway, With half formed accents mov’d his swollen tongue “Ah! Could I see thee, Lucy!” he would say, She sees him,—(one wild shriek of horror rung,) Flee to his arms and round him lifeless hung.— [page 26] “My Reuben” all she said,—and Reuben, cried The echoing woods, as in her arms he died.
The dusk now slowly vanish’d from the wood, When early riflemen pursu’d their way,— But safe the game, for now assembled stood Around the rock, in pity and dismay The crowd, where pale in death two lovers lay.— But Lucy’s fainting form restor’d to life, With waneing reason held the doubtful strife.
Gone,—gone forever was that artless mind, Which light and life from fond affection drew While rustic skill, with tender pity join’d, In vain essay’d each remedy it knew, And bore her lifeless off, e’er the sad view, [page 27] Of her dear Reuben should again recall, The anguish’d though which work’d her reasons fall.
Yet, wherefore mourn ye, kind and gentle hearts, All unsophisticated by the world? Has woe, that but in punishment imparts, Her lessons, ne’er to you her page unfulr’d, To teach, that reason from her seat when hurl’d By misery, t’were cruel to recall? Death only can release from madness’ thrall.
The Widow of the Rock”—Ah! woeful name. That the once gay—once happy Lucy bears! While madness adds a more appalling claim, To pity, that but mocks the grief she wears — As neath the trees by moonlight she appears [page 28] Her form bent over Reubens’ early grave, No more her griefs in wild distraction rave.
Calm is her mind as the subsided sea, And settled is the sorrow in her eye — Oft by some devious brook, or mould’ring tree, She sits indulging the unbidden sigh, And sometimes turns, and talks to Reuben by, Then she will start in terror,—and anon, Dive in the woods, and wander farther on. [page 29]
TO THE MEMORY OF
The struggle of freedom has past like the swell Of the mountain-heav’d billow that swallows the shore; Peace reigns where the brave and the mighty once fell, And the yell and the scalping-knife’s terrors are o’er. Shall the heroes who sunk be forgot?—and their praise Be doom’d in the grave of oblivion to lie? Shall no kindred effusion awaken to raise To their mem’ry the tribute that never can die? [unnumbered page] Oh! would that my fire and my verse were as strong As the spirit that dared, and the arm that achiev’d, To thy mem’ry, my ancestor, both should belong, And no more of its glory thy name be bereav’d. Thy ashes are hid by th’ inglorious sod, Their place ’mong the graves of the humble past o’er, By the foot of the foeman unheedingly trod, The courage that fired them regarded no more. Yet thy bravery was known—and thy deeds cannot fail, In the record of glory thy name ever lives, Where envy in vain shall attempt to assail The ne’er-fading wreath that posterity gives! The warrior firm when mad faction had spread, Rebellion’s red flag, mark’d with Liberty’s call, His life for his country was foremost to shed; By the dark hand of treachery at last doom’d to fall. [page 32] No funeral honours were paid o’er thy grave, The strife of the combat for these gave no room, Yet the soldier’s rough tear was wiped off for the brave, And e’en foemen were sad o’er the warrior’s tomb. Though no stoned relievos above it are wrought, To point where affection may bend o’er and weep, Yet a record more noble more debt is thy lot,— Wan age that with three generations doth creep, Perception a blur,—and sensation a void, With gratitude still loves to throw back the veil Of the past,—while remembrance is feebly employ’d, And to tell ’mid the fortune of war’s sad entail “There was One, who protected the sons of the soul, “Their rights made his own, & their injuries his care, “He crav’d not of power but his en’mies to foil, “Once conquer’d, he strove the defenceless to spare.” [page 33] The tear of the widow proclaims to thy boast, Such virtue as never aspersion can taint, Tho’ no trophy be raised, tho’ thy mem’ry were lost, This speaks more than marble sepulchral can paint, For this my heart’s warmest devotion be paid, To thy virtues my praise—my affection belong, And the daughter for this, to her grandfather’s grave, Sole off’ring she can, pays the tribute of song. [page 34]
ON VISITING THE GRAVE OF MY DAUGHTER FOR THE LAST TIME.
’Tis the pale moon of midnight my sad spirit hails, I see its dim gleams thro’ the tall waving trees:— Earth slumbers,—solemnity’s silence prevails I alone break the swell of the wide-sweeping breeze. It is not the moon in the pride of her power, Nor the soothing relief of the calm midnight shade, That leads me to wander alone at this hour,— ’Tis the moon-lighted hill where my daughter is laid. There—there is my heart.—’Midst the forests wild gloom, Sleeps the babe that once smiling I fondly caress’d.— [unnumbered page] How I watch’d o’er its beauties and mark’d its young bloom, Oh! yet the remembrance is dear to my breast This lonely retreat doth the moaning-dove choose To pour forth her melting funereal dole While list’ning her notes oft my footstep I lose, As for thee pours her dirge, it is sweet to my soul! And yet happier for thee, that so soon thou hast fled From the tempest of passion, the trials of life, Than live thro’ the mazes of love to be led, And like me feel the pangs of maternity’s strife. Years have past away since, but I cannot forget thee, Sweet germ of my hopes, tho’ thy sorrows are o’er, Thou art happy my daughter!—why should I regret thee? Tho’ thy mother must weep,—thou wilt never weep more! [page 36] Thy spirit escap’d ere thou knewest to frame One thought or one wish that could mem’ry load; Ere the dawnings of reason or sentiment came,— While existence was fresh from the hand of its God. Yet I lov’d thee my daughter!—I lov’d thee! how dearly, The bitterness now of my anguish may shew Time has not effac’d thy young image, nor nearly Prevail’d o’er the bitter excess of my woe. As I linger in sadness, it pleases to think That thy fond spirit hovers around me the while: Ah! why dearest babe from thy other thus shrink? Thro’ the thin air thou glidest away with a smile. Stay—stay little darling!—thy mother would follow, But the cares and the duties of life interpose; Still longer this spot with thy dear presence hallow, Nor suffer the night-mists thy shade to enclose. [page 37] But even this solace will soon be denied, For distant from thee is my destiny cast; Yet never my grief for thee babe shall subside Fare thee well darling hope! my sole daughter!—my last! [page 38]
Credulity!—weakness that worldlings abuse, I had thee the test of ingenuous hearts! The pleasures thou givest let stiff Prudence refuse, And smile in derision, where’er she imparts, Her cold heartless pleasures, if such they can be That externals can yield without ent’ring the soul;— Far better to brave all the ills caus’d by thee Than submit to the bonds that good feelings control Oh! that the enjoyments this world can bestow, When we’ve liv’d to discover that nothing is new Society!—only deception to show How ennui to kill, or hide folly from view [unnumbered page] And hence the delight that the poet can give, Who, scorning deception, from truth only draws,— Tears off the false mask, like a Byron, to live In the heart, while the tongue dares deny natures laws. Come Wit that to Dullness alone gives offence! Poor Wit! whose light tresses are cruelly torn, By dunces with brain-pans like oyster-shells dense, (Their contents, if they’ve any, Wite stoops not to scorn!) And Satire! to Wit that’s so nearly allied,— Tin sisters,—both shunn’d yet supporting each other. Bear up! for without you would pedantry ride All rough-shod o’er talent and merit together While Vulgarity stuff’d with the offals of gain, Airs of gentil’ty unfounded in worth. [page 40] Affectation o’er Genius triumphant would reign. And Vanity make up for Meanness of Birth. Credulity!—thou injured theme of my song, So despis’d by the worldly, the proud, the self-wise, That a poet alone may thy praises prolong, Tho’ thou plumest the wing that would soar to the skies. And descend like heaven’s dews sprinkled over the flower, Refreshing the heart by sad care long oppress’d With genial attraction in mis’ry’s dark hour. That invites to disburden the labouring breast. And admitting that wisdom sometimes is in fault, When with virtues congenial untried we invest Those beings whose cold hearts our warm ones have caught At moments when mis’ry in vain sought for rest, [page 41] Do we therefore of folly the miner accuse, Who digs for the ore where with dross ’tis combin’d No surely,—yet treasures of her nobler use Are not deem’d worth the trouble of seeking to find. [page 42]
THE CONSOLATIONS OF POETRY
The poet’s wild Fancy may rove in a dream, And sport with bright visions the world cannot know. And dim is the glow of her varying beam, If sentinel Reason she cannot lay low. Then now for the moment this guardian reposes, With her may the losses, the crosses of life Be forgotten, while stript of their thorns be the roses That hide and embellish its pitiful strife. To gather these roses a long retrograde Must mem’ry fatigued and depress’d undergo; While travelling a tedious journey thro’ shade, To reach the bright regions of bliss where they grow, [unnumbered page] While Prudence says, “Turn to the past and remember, “Woe pursues and will catch thee forbear then to go, Nor the products of May try to pluck in December. Thy path chill’d and hid beneath life’s winter snow. “Rather turn thee, and hasten the last gleam to catch, “That shining from far like a beacon doth seem “A spark may yet linger within that can match “The ray that may light up life’s last fading beam! That ray to the poet unfolds a bright world With visions that please when life’s joys are decay’d, There his eye is still fix’d on a standard unfurl’d, The standard of glory whose hues never fade. [page 44]
Let Eloquence tell of her power to persuade. Her lightnings that flash and her thunders that roll; But the converse of lovers requires not her aid. ’Tis the language of looks that speaks home to the soul. Let Harmony vain of her influence boast, How hearts to exalt to depress, to entrance But let eyes meet in concert, her magic is lost, And the music of spheres is subdu’d by a glance. Let poets from heaven their numbers derive, Let Byron’s wild stains be still prais’d by the throng. But the eyes of the poets fair theme when alive, Would (trust me) have lock’d what had vanquish’d the song. [unnumbered page]
ON FINDING MY BOWER COVERED WITH WORMS AFTER A RAIN.
Foul crawlers begone! nor presume These flowers ere their time to impair; The Sun shall awaken their bloom, And the moisture dispel from the air. Get you gone to the mouldering clay, That beauty with life hath forsaken There fatten at will on your prey, The prey that destruction hath taken. Come not to the cheerful day-light, Your noisome remains to disperse Hide away in the bosom of night, And feed on the death-stricken corpse. [unnumbered page] If the miser while eyeing his chest, Saw the worm crawl o’er each piece of gold, Or the lover with happiness blest, O’er the lov’d one should feel it creep cold, The shuddering heart, the short breath, The horrible thrill of the soul, Joy’s sun shine o’ershadow’d by death, Might prove the worm’s reign o’er the whole. [page 47]
THE BROKEN HEART.
“Blest happiness! is it thy shadow that flies, “O’er this heart but so lately depress’d? “Or is it the radiant glance of those eyes “That rekindles thy form in this breast? “Base deceiver begone! for thy flattering power “Sinks from the real’ty of woe; “And Hope that my love gave to bloom like a flower, “Now wither’d, that love must forego. “While the smile that gave life to it once in my heart, “For another is destin’d by heaven, “May its brightness endure and may it impart, “Those joys that from me are all riven.” [unnumbered page] Thus sung a lone maiden, whose beauteous form Flush’d up at life’s last fading ray. Like the glow of the sky that succeeds to the storm. When the sun beams “farewell” on the day. For long ere meridian lustre had shed O’er her beauty its mellowing charm, Her full-matur’d heart in Love’s snare had been led, While she deem’d that with friendship ’twas warm. Those affections one object forever possess’d, Until truth brought its warning too late,— When his vows to another stood fully confess’d She in secret succumbs to her fate Grief’s ne’er-dying worm unrelenting and sure Crops the blossom of nature’s fair child, Whose love like the scent of the rose is most pure When its bloom wastes away on the wild. [page 49]
ON A LADY WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE SUFFERED SHIPWRECK.
To wake up with the early dawn, And hail the coming day; To ramble o’er the dewy lawn, With hearts then young and gay, Was ours.—ah! what a soul was thine, Shade of departed worth! Never did cultur’d nature shine More pure upon this earth! For thine was every outward grace, With every virtue fraught;— Thy bosom was a resting place, For love not to be bought. [unnumbered page] But thou art gone,—with thee is fled All hope again to find Another that like thee could shed Peace o’er the woe-worn mind. And now I wander all alone, Nor heed the balmy breeze, But list the ring dove’s tender moan, And think upon the seas. The wind that rushes through the wood, Has swept the fatal waves,— Far—far beneath the briny flood, Deep—deep in ocean’s caves Thou liest?—ah! no—thou art not there, Thou soar’st in amber bright, Perhaps e’en now, in tender care, Thy looks on me may light! [page 51] And could that form return—no dread, But joy sublime for me, To view thy bright celestial shade, Once more to look on thee! [page 52]
ON SEEING TWO FUNERALS PASS BY
Alas! for men!—Few sympathetic tears Embalm those dead borne by on sep’rate biers! Behold them by the thoughtless crowd convey’d; Without e’en mimic woe’s decorous aid! With heartless apathy I see the throng, Each in himself absorb’d, pass light along. Returning each, his thoughtless tribute paid, T’ oblivion dooms his friends’ departed shade. No moral lesson here drawn from the tomb, To teach the soul to startle at its doom, The crimes of man to picture with disgust, And bid him draw his wisdom from the dust, Impress the heart with fear and point to heaven, Where thro’ this narrow vale the road to life is given. [unnumbered page]
DESERTED FLOWER GARDEN.
These flowers left alone, seem to droop with regret Showing sympathy more than from mankind we meet. The garden’s fair ornaments once might look gay, But the form which then cheer’d them is now far away And the visions of fancy that flit o’er the heart, Recalling past scenes, animation impart To those emblems of nature, to which 'tis allow’d As they sigh in the breeze, of that care to be proud Which nurs’d them so kindly, but left them to mourn In their prime to be pluck’d vulgar breasts to adorn. Yet woman alas! may well sympathize there,— This garden’s the type of her own prospects drear. When reft of protection she then would shun [unnumbered page] The blast of the world,—like the blight of the sun Which withers the soonest the bloom of that rose Whose delicate sweetness pre-eminent shows,— Tho’ yesterday honour’d the pride of the bower, Now yielding in charms to the lowliest flower. Of these flowers let me hasten, while some yet remain, A garland untarnish’d for thee to obtain, And keep, till we meet in the temperate sphere Of friendship unsullied, where no clouds appear To darken the glow thy remembrance impresses On a heart long a stranger to warmer excesses. [page 55]
“Not Argus with his hundred eyes can find “Where Cupid goes, tho’ he, poor child, is blind. Yet that he never sleeps the odds I take, Because for mischief he is wide awake. His wicked arts have gods themselves subdu’d, Then who resists them? Who—except the prude. Ere danger’s warded, it must be foreseen, And various forms the urchin wears I ween; Perhaps not twice in the same shape appears, A Proteus prov’d these many thousand years, From Contradiction and from Folly sprung, For Venus only nurs’d him when quite young. Sometimes ’tis nature arms him, sometimes art; [unnumbered page] Sometimes ’tis faults that wing his keenest dart For neither common sense, nor that of schools. Can save his victims from becoming fools. Tho’ in his favour this must be confess’d, That poets (always wise) describe him best Without his pranks alas! what could they do— His sports they may enjoy and never rue. L’v’n tho’ in plaintive mood they may deplore What Cupid always was and will be evermore. [page 57]
THE LOVEISCK LADY.
Lightly Zephyr pass not by, That face attractive—form divine! But bear to him the tender sigh Of heart alas! no longer mine! Thou canst fan him in the shade, With sweets of spring thy pinions lead, Bid every flower lend its aid, To charm the sense of love’s abode. Bear not words—for they are vain, Let raptur’d feelings fill his soul! Words may try to paint the pain, The joys of love they can’t unroll [unnumbered page] And seize the moment when he sleeps, That dreams may lend their magic power,— To every breeze that o’er him sweeps, Give force to speed the blissful hour. Yet ah! perhaps ’tis not for me I’d thus imagination move! Another now more bless’d may be, With all that woman dreams of love. Let silence then my portion be, For vain the effort thus to trace The conflict caus’d by loving thee,— Yet vainer still that love to chase. Be gone then Hope! no longer lead A heart no other food can cheer,— Despair at least excuse may plead, For sighs bestowed on one too dear. [page 59]
WARNING TO A LAP-DOG.
My pretty Rosa! tell me why That plaintive look—that heavy eye. Hast thou my frail one been deceived,— Thy spotted lover’s tale believ’d? Tale, which whisper’d in thine ear, Alas! were perilous to hear? Ah! Rose beware! discard the thought Of foppish love too dearly bought. Or if of single life thou’rt tir’d, Choose not a beau so much admir’d For many lessons he has learn’d, That to thy ruin may be turn’d,— Too much the world he’s rang’d around Too many Roses he has found [unnumbered page] Too much he apes the high renown (Of hero’s doffing laurel crown, For myrtle’s sweeter—softer far When Cupid chains “the dogs of war”) Then Rose, believe thy wiser friend, And shun the danger that must end In woe that thou alone must bear.— While, shifting like the ambient air, The faithless sighs of faithless swain, Each breeze sweeps lightly o’er the plain, To be inhaled by every one. His spots may dazzle—but I’ve done. So, take thy crust, and be content, Such roving love can but torment. [page 61]
LENT TO A GENTLEMEN WITH A FEATHER-FAN
On which Roses were depicted.
Go, light, fantastic, airy thing, By Fancy pluck’d from Cupid’s wing! Thy pencil’d Roses gaily blowing, (The work of nymph, alas! unknowing. What mischief here might lurk unseen. Should Zephyr take Apollo’s mein, And lightly fanning thoughtless fur Excite a flame not cool’d by air.) But might this gift to friendship be, The pledge of friendly courtesy, No mischief hence could e’er ensue,— More harmless roses never grew. [unnumbered page]
‘AS THINE THE LOVE THAT NE’ER DISDAINS’
As thine the love that ne’er disdains The simple lay—the shepherds strains, Awake my love, and come with me! The rising sun hath rous’d the bee, The soaring lark no tunes her lay, Arise my love, and come away! Together let us range the mead, Where daisies spring, and lambkins feed Wand’rng o’er the dewy lawn, To taste the freshness of the dawn Before the sultry heat of day, Delay not, love, but come away! [unnumbered page] Thus Edwin to his Anna sung— His dulcet notes the echo rung, While deep impress’d on Anna’s heart The love, where interest bore no part, The love, disdaining worldly pride, The love, ne’er felt by courtly bride, But that which in itself, compris’d, All earthly bliss that Anna priz’d. And Edwin, happiest of the swains, Of cold reserve no more complains, When Anna, fairer than the dawn, And fleeter than the bounding lawn, Springs forth, with joy her love to meet This morn of all to her most sweet,— To stray where Cupid gaily leads, Heedless of every hour that speeds. This day’s the last of maiden life, Tomorrow dooms her Edwin’s wife. [page 64]
ON A LADY’S EXPRESSING HER PREFERENCE TO THE SCARLET UNIFORM OF THE GREEN.
Tho’ cypress the colour that decks those gay forms, Yet guard well your heart, for beneath them are charms There’s a couleur de rose, that with scarlet may vie Lurking under the green, which may draw forth a sigh And ah! think not the colour that catches the sight, Like the glow in the bosom your love can excite, But true to the maxim that bright honour teaches, Beware no false colour your heart ever reaches, Tho’ dipt in the rainbow the heart of coquette Is clad but in hues of a transient date. And, (trust me) the tongue that thus pertly can rail A passion at heart may yet strive to conceal. [page 65]
TO A GENTLEMAN WHOSE SEAL BORE THE DEVICE OF A HEART TRANSFIXED BY A DART, WITH THE MOTTO
“Je ne change qu’en mourant.”
“Je ne change qu’en mourant.”—this motto peut-être Impress’d in thy heart would not warrant my satire But sceptic the Fancy that dictates the verse When Mars of thy children the praise she’d reshearse, Tho’ aware that exceptions establish a rule, Drawing rules from exceptions would stamp her a fool Wand doubt must remain where professions we see, Which call forth a question that had remain’d free But should virtuoso such rare thing require, Let him constancy seek in the heart you inspire [page 66]
TO A GENTLEMAN SATIRIZING THE FEMALE CHARACTER WHILE READING THE PIRATES
The spirits of the northern blast, —Disturbers of the mighty deep, My magic spell have o’er thee cast— But, Norna bids thy terrors sleep Great Norna of the Fitful Head The Fitful Heart now deigns to greet, Yet not the heart of mystic lead, But human frailty’s mystic sea This woe-worn Norna roving wild, Disdains the scoffing scorn of man, With worldly self-conceit defil’d That woman’s heart would seek to scan [page 67] Then youthful hero quickly tell Why thus in unpropitious hour, Unaw’d by virtue’s potent spell, Unchain’d by beauty’s softer power Thou deem’dst thy slander could avail One half thy species to condemn? Know harsh abuse shall ne’er prevail Nor harm,—for magic dwells with them Ah! dread the vengeance of a witch, Nor draw her wrathful curses down Her weapons dire may overmatch Man’s lordly arrogating frown. Behold my dwarf! That hideous form Once stately—beauteous charm’d the eye; A tow’ring pine that brav’d the storm, A blaze that warm’d ’neath Jetland’s sky. [page 68] Behold him now!—the monster fell No more his hideous shape conceals, His punishment he cannot tell, No tongue his malice now reveals Then trifle not with Norna’s wrath, To friendship still her heart is free, And pities those whom reason hath Deserted, as it now does thee. Full well she knows the healing art, Of balm and worm-wood proves the use, The first, to soothe the bleeding heart, The last, to check wits’ foul abuse. [page 69]
ON A SUPPOSED COURTSHIP
If the Naiads of old were for beauty ador’d When love reign’d both ardent and free,— If the Ancients each stream with its Diety stor’d, Love’s fav’rites—then why should not we? Where three tribute floods pour their waves to one stream, Dwells a maiden surpassing in grace, That stream reigns o’er all other waters supreme, That nymph—the queen-nymph of the place. While the moments all gaily and joyously fly To love and to pleasure resign’d, And Cupid, (young urchin) the wicked and sly, Bids time with his cares lag behind. [page 70] Receive from the Muse that on beauty’s smile lives The lay that would strive to combine With try fate all that love to the human heart gives, E’en to that which dares scoff at his shrine. Must glory each system—each sect ever reaps From proselytes newly converted, The bird which he’s found hard to catch the boy keeps, By its struggles for freedom diverted. Yet hard ’tis to tame it, since never again Must it flutter from flower to flower, The joy of possession is subject to pain, And dread lest it fly from his power. Then maiden! with watchful solitude keep, A captive consign’d to thy care, Lull his heart on Love’s softest rose-pillow to sleep. ’Tis a truant if thorns linger there. [page 71]
TO A BELOVED OBJECT.
Ye lovers and rhymers your folly beware! Attend to full proof, for such here can be given, That love may burn brightly without Cupid’s care, Tho’ the flame may not come as suppos’d just from heaven. For as the volcano supplied from below, Refuses to burn by the rays of the sun; Or as steam comes from fountains whose boilings, o’erflow With health to the weak and the sick as they run. So the heat that now warms and relaxes the frame, And leaves it to drowsiness, languor and ease, May light up the blush and awaken the flame, And love may creep in and prevail by degrees, [page 72] ’Tis not the mad passion that beauty inspires,— No animate object engages this love,— The fire warms my heart with reciprocal fires, My attachment is great— but ’tis all for my stove. [page 73]
ON A GENTLEMAN’S GIVING AWAY A FAVOURITE SPANIEL.
Relentless the impulse, and grievous the theme, That with painful reverse bids me turn from the dream That else might have pictur’d thee all that was good, Hid under the guize of each fanciful mood, As from the delusion I painfully start, To pause on fidelity thrown from thy heart. Poor Prince! not a sigh nor a tear shed for thee, Comes to hallow the tie from which now thou art free: In the hall of the stranger alas! thou must feed, At the call of the stranger thy footsteps must speed. The voice that seem’d music no more shalt thou hear, No longer caress’d by the hand that was dear, [page 74] And long will the whistle’s remember’d note shrill On thy ear, as the dirge of thy happiness thrill, —Thy happiness!—all that by heaven above Is granted to mortals,—permission to love But this man denies except in his own way. And spurns the devotion a poor dog can pay. Ah! different far from the world’s adulation, The love that increases for pain’s consolation,— That self can quite banish from every reflection, And leave but the impulse that springs from affection. [page 75]
SIR WALTER RALEIGH’S ADVICE TO HIS SON ON THE SUBJECT OF MATRIMONY.
(Versified from Campbell’s Magazine)
Since Horace sung, and long before, Has woman felt man’s tyrant power. “False” and “fickle” are slight charges When disappointed man enlarges, On weak woman’s many failings, While he, quite just in all his railings, For truth and constancy renoun’d, Her perfect contrast would be found. But,—just by way of illustration, A wise man once, in lofty station, Bequeathed his son a legacy Of good advice to keep him free. [page 76] From all the turmoil care and strife That wait upon a wedded life. “My son,” he said, “love on—but think Tis better far to love than link “Real thy years,—bethink thee when “A sucking child, what thou didst then. “—Didst love thy wet-nurse with affection “Till wean’d thou mad’st a new election, Thy dry-nurse then suffic’d thy heart, “Quite willing from the first to part. “To boyhood grown say didst thou grieve, “—Thy second favourite to leave? “—The fate of these thy first two loves, (“Their care no longer needful) proves, “That so ’twill be in after years, “When beauty thy young heart ensnares “With ardour first the flame will burn, [page 77] “And all to one thy liking turn, “A second will that first supplant, “Then for a third thy heart will pant, “And so ’twill be with many more, “From one—two—three—up to a score.” Thus sung (or said) Sir Walter Raleigh. A knight for crafty wisdom fam’d; But sailors’ hearts are somewhat squally, To dove-like constancy not tam’d. Thus men, of woman’s power jealous, Endeav’ring to degrade the fair, (For their prerogative quite zealous) Asperse what they should guard with care. Blind to her charms her faults they chide, Nor give to nature’s weakness lenience; [page 78] Their wife is but the slave of pride, Or sort of household-stuff convenience A wretched life we must confess, The Indian has a better mode His Squaw—his slave,—no more—nor less,— To pound his corn—to lug his load. [page 79]
“LINES ON THE MEDALLION HEAD OF ARIADNE”
And why should woman never love? Throwing her chance away, —Her only chance to shine, When youthful years decay. Look into each old history, And scan each Gossip tale, They’ll tell how spinsters’ spleen has made Their furrow’d cheeks turn pale. Their selfishness, a noxious weed With’ring with very spite; [page 80] A squeamish plant that leaves no seed Posterity to blight. Look down into the silent grave,— How much like death the doom Of hearts that love has never warm’d— Their hearts a living tomb. Look on their hours of solitude— How many lonely hours When neither wife’s nor mother’s cares Engage the soul’s best powers? Mark that grim face! ah! never blush Has pass’d o’er such a churl, And never o’er a sterner brow Has wav’d a barber’s curl. And mark how carefully those wreaths Of curls are rang’d around, [page 81] While cautiously her spite she breathes ’Gainst beauty in love bound ’Tis she despis’d! what greater proof Of woman’s destin’d lot? Their happiest doom, queen Nature’s dower Is envied—not forgot. Heart wither’d—self-love tortured, A life might pity move, A path of thorns—these are hate’s gifts, Then woman, why not love? [page 82]
SOLILOQUY OF SAPPHO
BEFORE PRECIPITATING HERSELF FROM THE ROCK OF LEUCADIA.
(From the French of Demoustier)
May the cold wave that now will receive me From this burning bosom efface All remembrance of grief, now I leave thee Great Neptune receive love’s last trace! Thy cold arms at last I will brave, Great Cupid! thy victim no more! My last tears shall blend with the wave, But oh! I shall then love no more! Love no more!—what! No more shall his view With transport enrapture my soul? No more see him with joy ever new That thrills beyond mortal control? [page 83] Must this fancy ne’er picture again, The smile that bids happiness live? And this heart never sigh, not in vain For the bliss that he only can give? On the desolate shore shall I never— More wander the long day alone, And at night return sadder than ever For him that still causes my moan? Farewell then dear Hope! fond Illusion! Farewell Love! thy soft spell could impart While indulging the tender effusion, The sole solace to this widow’d heart. Ah! cruel one! still I adore thee! Despite all thy heart-rending scorn, And that for which most I deplore me. Ingrate! Us from Thee to be torn. [page 84]
FORGET ME NOT.
Forget me not! sweet little flower, Thou wert christen’d in that happy hour, When blooming like thee, the young spring Of life could such confidence fling, O’er the heart as could make it forget That like thee ’tis the victim of Fate— —That like thee tho’ it bloom for a while Neath the sunlight of Hope’s fairy smile, Yet Inconstancy’s merciless blast May blight all its dear visions at last. As the breeze dashes thee on the thorn, The young heart by the arrows of scorn Transfix’d, in keen anguish may bleed. [page 85] And its fragrance in loneliness shed More happy the flowret that blooms In the wilderness, tho’ it perfumes Unheeded must waste on the gale, While the forest’s protection doth veil Its sweets from vulgarity’s eyes. Which know now thy beauties to prize. [page 86]
TO THE SAME.
Forget me not! yes, lovely flower thou’rt forgotten. Thy charms were too flimsy not soon to decay,— The south-wind has scorched thee,—the noon-ray has shot in The deepest recess where thy choicest sweets lay Has rifled thy fragrance, and drunk up they juices, And left thy parch’d tendrils to moulder in the dust The rose-bud perks o’er thee with little abuses, To thy charms she succeeds—to thy fortune she must. Ev’n now the bland Zepher too fondly is revelling, Her bosom proud-heav’d of its blooms to bereave The ruthless marauder still boastful is travelling To rifle new beauties,—new flowesr to deceive. [page 87] Then envy her not—tho’ glory is wasted Just emblem of nature a lesson is thine, Like the ravishing zephyr Old Time when he’s tasted The sweets of all things shall not heed their decline. [page 88]
PETITION OF A LINNET CAUGHT IN A LIMED TWIG.
While here my weary wings I beat With idle unevailing rage, And strive in vain my prison’d feet From cruel snares to disengage, Oh you! who walk at large below, And rove at will yon verdant field, Have pity in a fellow’s woe, And succor to the helpless yield If e’er you scorn’d the arts of fraud, Release me from a villain’s chain, If e’er your breast with freedom glow’d Give me my liberty again! [page 89] On yonder spray my true-love sits And wonders why so long I roam — Hark! how the broken lay she twits, And calls in vain her wand’rer home Beneath her near my infant brood With loud and unavailing cry, Importunate demand the food Their captive father can’t supply If e’er you felt a lover’s flame Oh! let me to my love repair, If e’er you prov’d a parent’s name Ah! listen to a parent’s pray’r! And do not strive with barb’rous art To force from me the captive’s strain Nor vainly think the freeborn heart Can carnal blithe beneath its chain [page 90] But save me from oppressive force, And give me to my nature air And so many angels guard your course And save you from each hidden snare For this each morn at dawn I’ll rise, With softest notes your sleep prolong, Or chase the tyrant from your eyes, And wake you with a grateful song. [page 91]
“THE JOYFUL COMING OF BIRDS.”
From yonder copse too thin for shade, And faintly clad in green, Why burst such notes to cheer the glade, And praise the season’s queen? Each breeze and flower that glides the sense, To us new raptures bring, But do those warblers learn from hence To hail the coming spring? Ah no! they little mark the flower,— They little heed the breeze; Nor early beam—nor genial shower Call forth such strains as these [page 92] But with their annual passion mov’d ’Tis love that bids them sing, And still to love and be belov’d, Is all they know of spring. Shall man then life’s chill winter fear Whose bliss no seasons bound? Shall he who loves throughout the year One hour in grief be found? [page 93]
A Sparrow long before the time That birds are wont to pair, Of winter tir’d in northern clime, Few forth to take the air. She plum’d her wings and look’d around In hopes, her life to cheer, A little mate might now be found, To whom she might be dear. But cold and dreary still did blow The wind which made her rue That unprotected from below The thatch she ever flew [page 94] For many days she flutter’d round, In sad and doleful plight; Her scanty food pick’d from the ground, And lonely past each night. But what the evils we endure, That love don’t soon forget? Or what the pains it cannot cure, When hearts in one are knit? The season now advanc’d, proclaims From every bough and spray, That love’s and nature’s tender claims, Are all that birds obey. No more the little wand’rer now, Is doom’d to hop alone, No more in helpless state to bow,— She loves—her cares are flown. [page 95] For love alone see now she lives Nor joy can taste unshar’d, Yet this pure bliss that nature gives Soon leaves her unprepar’d. The summer months pass blithely on, From glad hearts time fast goes, Their broad is rear’d—their cares are flown The reign of love must close. For winter, like the close of life, Their longer bliss denies,— Cuts short love’s little day of strife, And breaks the parents’ ties, [page 96]
THE MOCKING BIRD.
Among the thick magnolia groves, The Mock-bird tunes her lay, Of ev’ry strain the sweetness proves, And sings her life away. ’Tis now the lark, and now the thrush, And now the red-bird’s tones, And ev’ry note in field or brush Her saucy talent owns. And she tho’ in the forest bred, Seeks out the haunts of man, From his hand freely takes the bread, And seems his tones to scan. [page 97] Then from this little social bird, Let mankind learn the bliss Of mutual benefits conferr’d In such a world as this. Nor dread the little playful wit That sometimes may deride,— “There is no blot until ’tis hit,” And fear speaks much to hide. [page 98]
TO A HUMMING-BIRD.
(The first seen by the Author in Canada.)
Little bird why thus visit my bower? Like its owner ’tis desolate all, The guest that but seeks the gay flower, At the bower of pleasure should call. The hum of thy gossamer wing In the summer’s short triumph display’d, More welcome than thousands that sing Unmark’d in the thick southern shade. Go-go never more to return, To the climes of the south fly away; There mayst thou still fearless sojourn, Nor winter thy flutt’rings betray. [page 99]
WRITTEN DURING A THUNDER STORM.
The distant thunder deep rebounding. Nature’s voice in grandeur sounding, Strikes a chord that’s like her own With sympathy to fools unknown. While thoughtless mirth gives way to fear, And weakness sheds the coward tear, Woe dignified can list the storm That nurture brings ev’n to the worm. The lightning’s flash can rouse the spark That shews our mind alas! how dark, Or if a ray can enter there, ’Tis but to strike with dumb despair The tow’ring pride that seeks to scan [page 100] “The great first case” by mortal plan, Ah! if the human mind could know, E’en how the blade of grass doth grow, T’were time enough to scan the power That blesses it with sun and shower, The storm that rends the sturdy oak, If sent by him whom they invoke, Unscath’d had left the guiltless tree, But not man’s arrogance go free. [page 101]
ON TAKING LEAVE OF A RESPECTED FRIEND.
(Written onboard the Steam-Boat Phoenix)
Adieu to the stranger whose manifest worth Bespeaks his descent from my own native shore His the greatness without the presumption of birth,— The charms of society—from flattery pure. There’s a sympathy lent to congenial minds, Like fire drawn from heaven that enters the heart Which looks not to country but closer still binds, ’Midst the turmoil of prejudice passion and art. Then let me the flattering thought still indulge, That ascribes not this meeting to fortune alone, But that Fate her decrees who will never divulge, Thus in willing thy kindness has shown me her own. [page 102] And long will those int’resting moments remain Heart-impress’d while I grieve that so soon they have fled, Tho sad was one subject,—(yet prov’d not in vain,) Her talents and virtues when you mourn’d the dead While mem’ry arous’d from her shadowy cell, In brightness transcendent a moment reviews That Being so short time permitted to dwell In a world where my tribute she would not refuse. Oh! shade of my friend grant me tho’ts to adore thee! Deign to hover a moment!—Thy eloquence once Could bewitch every heart,—grant me words to deplore thee! To struggle like thee with the ills that enhance Life’s few fleeting pleasures,—on thee to look back. To dwell on thy virtues,—thy greatness of mind, [page 103] That a prey to the horrors of Ocean’s wild wreck, Thro’ Death’s shadows triumphant a passage could find. That still unappal’d tho’ thy grief for a father Must embitter the joy that thy trails were past While panic-struck beings around thee would gather And see thy soft frame braving death to the last. Tho’ no dirge has been sung and no monument rasi’d, Columbia has mourn’d as if shorn of her beams, This star of the north, thro’ her union that blaz’d,— That shone on her mountains and gilded her streams. As south east and west like a sylph when she roam’d Exploring her country—its wonders—its powers, Attracted by science, Ohio was doom’d The scene of her studies—those halcyon hours Which ne’er can return.— tho’ now hopeless the heart, [page 104] And feeble the hand that here fain would unroll Past scenes, for they go like a dream when we start, They come like night’s meteor o’er Ossian’s dark soul. And now borne on the wave which was erewhile the scene Of the battle’s red tide,—of war’s murdering blast, When Britons despising o’er Ocean to reign, Forsaking his realm from his favour were cast. No more to return to their own wide domain, Here perished those warriors noble and brave,— From each shore has re-echo’d the knell of the slain, As a kindred contending have sunk in the wave Whose broad-bosom’d current, tranquilly flowing, Regarding of man’s slender line in its course, To both rival nations an emblem is shewing Of the blessings of union in friendship and force. [page 105] Then long may continue the concord that reigns, On the shores of the rich-mantling forest around, That again I with joy may revisit those plains, Where generous friendship and kindness abound, Again meet the friend I’ve so recently found. [page 106]
LINES TO GENERAL D*******
From Chimborazo’s monarch brow Fame spreads her wings for distant flight, A hero’s name she echo’s now, Each patriot bosom to delight. O Thou! who ’mid fate adverse shone, When exil’d from thy native land, With Erin’s virtues all thine own,— Virtues that every heart command. And, tow’ring o’er the “little Great,” Chastis’d the arrogating pride Of upstart with that name elate, Which Europe in her strength defied. [page 107] Thy worth in private life was known The friend devoted—heart sincere;— And thence, tho’ now thy star has shone, Thy mem’ry most to me is dear. Thy name now Fortune ushers forth, Which conscious Fame long since had spread, But that she knew thy modest worth Distrusted her capricious aid. On Andes’ top thy form is bright, In Quito’s walls thy name resounds Thy country’s claims thou goest to plight With Kingdom’s of earth’s utmost bounds. And from “the Children of the Sun” To those who dwell in frosty night Proclaim the mighty work begun Which man restores to his birthright. [page 108] And as thou goest,—approving thought Shall cheer thy way o’er desert snows; The end that’s by thy country sought The only wish thy bosom knows, While silent now the snaky tongue And venomless the baleful breath Of calumny that would have strung Thine with the names deserving death. For still in every hardship tried, Soaring above that skulking fiend, In open day to blast the pride Of tyrants was thy aim—now gain’d Great D******* receive the will, Which for the deed would fain express, The memory that lingers still Of former scenes that on it press. [page 109] Had I but skill to string the lyre, Call’d forth for thee my voice should rise Triumphant, sped by friendship’s fire, And sound thy praises to the skies. [page 110]
TO A YOUNG POET.
(On hearing him recite for the first time)
Thy youthful lyre rings strong and sweet, From high Parnassus’s brow, But vainly would my feeble feet, Sustain me there to bow. Far distant now the sound I hear. With admiration true, Foreboding the applauding cheer, The world reserves for you, When Byron’s mantle round thee waves In folds of chaster form, And critic wit that talent braves In thee may dread the storm. [page 111] Think not this flatt’ry Far from me That paltry trade of art,— ’Tis instinct bids the poet see The fount whence flows his part. [page 112]
ADDRESS TO FANCY.
Of present woe and future care, My heart the anxious tho’ts forego Tho’ pleasure’s moments be but rare, Bid Fancy gild them as they flow Her magic wing can lightly soar, Too high for grovelling care to reach.— Despite life’s tempest win the shore, Where Joy sports on the flow’ry beach. Come then potent charm!—for never, To mortal was thy form more dear; And be thy dress more bright than ever, Thine accents those youth lov’d to hear! [page 113] And come Thou Memory!—Fancy’s friend! For where she falls, thy kindly aid Can call up visions without end, Come both! nor be my trust betray’d Oh! bear me to the flowery vale Where flows Ohio’s beauteous stream From woodland and from cultur’d dale Recall of youth the fairy dream. Bring back the mocking-bird’s sweet song, The gentle moaning-dove’s complaint The red-bird’s sprightly note prolong, And whip-poo-will so loud and quaint. And wisdom’s bird, whose iron sway The choristers instinctive shun; Tho’ even here the chatt’ring jay Is all the go for mirth and fun. [page 114] And give me back to scent the flowers That glisten with a thousand dyes, ’Neath April suns and April showers, Rewarding zephyrs constant sighs. And let the soft and murm’ring flow Of long-lov’d La Belle Riviere, Awake the enthusiastic glow That mantled o’er my heart when there. Rouse latent taste to view its grand Majestic overwhelming sweep, When its once glassy bosom bland Breaks forth a proud and mighty deep. But Fancy fails me here,—the theme Requires the mind’s gigantic swell; And grandeur felt but as a dream, The muse no more vouchsafes to tell. [page 115]
Lake mournful echo from the silent tomb That pines away upon the midnight air, Whilst the pale moon breaks out with fitful gloom, Fond memory turns, with sad but welcome care To scenes of desolation and despair,— Once bright with all that beauty could bestow, That peace could shed, or youthful fancy know. [page 116]
To the fair Isle’ reverts the pleasing dream, Again thou risest in thy green attire, Fresh as at first thy blooming graces seem, Thy groves, thy fields their wonted sweets respire,— Again thou’rt all my heart could e’er desire Oh! why dear Isle art thou not still my own? Thy charms could then for all my griefs atone.
The stranger that descends Ohio’s stream, Charm’d with the beauteous prospects that arise, Marks the soft Isles that ’neath the glistn’ing beam Dance in the wave and mingle with the skies, Sees also One that now in ruin lies, Which erst, like fairy queen tow’red o’er the rest, In every native charm by culture dress’d [page 117] There rose the seat where once, in pride of life My eye could mark the queen of rivers flow, In summer’s calmness or in winter’s strife, Swol’n with the rains or baffling with the snow, —Never again my heart such joy shall know:— Havoc and Ruin and rampant War have past Over that Isle with their destroying blast.
The black’ning fire has swept throughout her halls The winds fly, whistling thro’ them, and the wave No more in spring-flood o’er the sand-beach crawls. But furious drowns in one o’erwhelming grave The hallow’d haunts it water’d as a slave:— Drive on destructive flood! and ne’er again On that devoted Isle let man remain! [page 118]
Too many blissful moments there I’ve known, Too many hopes have there met their decay,— Too many feelings now forever gone To wish that thou would’st e’er again display The joyful colouring of thy prime array — Buried with thee let them remain a blot,— With thee their sweets, their bitterness forgot;
And oh! That I could wholly wipe away The memory of the ills that work’d thy fall! — The memory of that all-eventful day When I return’d and found my own fair hall Held by the infuriate populace in thrall,— My own fireside blockaded by a band That once found food and shelter at my hand. [page 119]
My children! (Ah! a mother’s pangs forbear, Nor strike again that arrow thro’ my soul!) Clasping the ruffians in suppliant prayer To free their mother from unjust control, While with false crimes and imputations foul The wretches—vilest refuse of the earth Mock-jurisdiction held around my heart!
Sweet Isle! methinks I see thy bosom torn, Again behold the ruthless rabble throng That wrought destruction taste must ever mourn? Alas! I see thee now—shall see thee long Yet ne’er shall bitter feeling urge the wrong That to a mob would give the censure due To those who arm’d the plunder-greedy crew, [page 120]
Tyrants of Liberty! (name so ador’d By crowds to lawless demagogues a prey Who, cheated by the ever-echoing word, Feel not their liberties are filch’d away, Themselves the tools of base Ambition’s sway,) ’Twas yours to loose “the dogs of war,” and cry “On—On the Traitors! Strike for Liberty.”
Thy shores are warm’d with bounteous suns in vain, Columbia! if spite and envy spring, To blast the beauty of mild nature’s reign:— The European stranger who would fling O’er tangled woods refinements’ polishing May find (expended every plan of taste) His works by ruffians render’d doubly waste. [page 121]
Self-dubb’d philosopher!—the mob’s delight! Thy *looming Science like thy mammoth’s bones From quiet earth shall ne’er be dragg’d to light. Then pray (if thou canst pray) in humble tones, That trying Death who no distinction owns From Freedom’s shore may sweep thy coward name, And save Columbia such blot of shame!
For thee no patriot lyre shall e’er be strung, Foul stain of Liberty! the rabble’s choice! Not e’en thy bombast from the chair that rung Shall live in future generations’ voice,— Thy baleful slang no more make fools rejoice; For who would sound the blessings of thy reign, Confed’rate vile of Atheists and Tom Paine! [page 122]
Great shade of laurel’d Washington arise! Methinks I see thy halo’d frowning brow,— Indignant see thee turn thy piercing eyes, Thy voice exclaims—“Where are the heroes now “Who bled for Freedom, that the rabble low “Dare thus uncrub’d, on Freedom’s sacred shore, “Their vengeance on defenceless woman pour.”
Thine was the soul that knew no base intent By cringing arts to win the mob’s applause; Thy purpose on thy country’s welfare bent, In arms thou’rt foremost to maintain her cause, And having freed establish’d her with laws,— How most thou weep illustrious shade—to see Thy plans perverted by Democracy! [page 123]
Freedom no more—wild Anarchy restrains, With jarring interests the levelling throng Busy Ambition every effort strains, The fangs of tyranny to plant among The very mob by whom his curse is rung. Spare—spare me from that phantom of equality. That equals men in knavery and brutality! [page 124]
HOW THE SONG WAS MADE.
Sambo—Ah! Massa Jontan, dat bery fine song you gib me. When you go’n to make dat song bot dee President an all dee peoples, an all dee tings what you promise noder day?—Massa Jemmy go’n to N———putty soon,—I no hab time to wait for em.
Jonathan.–Whaugh; I do’ne know Sambo, I hant ges got abayout it yit, but I inten’ teu, some rainy day or nother when we git done hayin.
Sam.—Dat dee ber ting—I come down nex’ rainy day—fetch my banjo—play him all de times when you makin him.
Jon.—Well—I guess nayow, that would be a purty good plan Sambo—for, some-hayow-or-nother, I’m not very ’cute bayout makin varses only when I know the teune,—so I awlus has to git my woman, or somebody at’s got a good voice to sing the lines over as I go on, to see ef they’re of the right lenth. Nayow, ef you’ll jest bring dayown that’are gourd-fiddle, a’ your’n, you can play over the words as fast ’s I make’em, and when they git long enough fer the teune, I’ll put the rhymes teu ’em.—I’m proper good at makin rhymes, an you know Sambo. that’s awlus the hardest part on’t. [unnumbered page]
Sam.—You man a’ great larnin Massa Jontan—I want to know why dey always hab to make ’em rhyme in de song?
Jon.—Whaugh Sambo, I have got purty considerable good larnin, though I never love to brag on’t.—I got it most all on’t myself teu. I went to school four winters to old Major Beechem, but I use to have come home every afternoon to cut wood and fodder cattle.—How—somedever old Major Beechem use teu say, I was the smartest scholar he ever know’d the Spell-Im-Book all by heart, from eend to eend, the secoud time we went threu it.
Sam.—But, Massa Jontan, what dee reason o’ dee rhyme?
Jon.—Whaigh Sambo, I guess you never studded much into the nater of the thing, or else you’d understand it’s quick’s a wink. Whaigh, that’s a part of the teune Sambo,—the song would’nt sing at all withayout the rhyme.
Sam.—Why Massa Jontan, you man a great larnin, dat for sartin,—you make him so plain, I understand him so plain ’s neber nigger can do. I don’t tink Massa Jemmy know him half’s well. what teuen you go’ne to make President’s song, Massa Jontan?
Jon.—Whaigh, I thought abayout makin it to yankee-doodle, like that one you see’d tother day. That’s the teune I know the best, but I guess it’s ruther teu old nayow; an they say the Canada-folks are beginnin’ to mock us abayout it. [page 126]
Sam.—Ah! Massa Jontan, I tell’u good tune. “Possum up dee gum tree”—drefful good tune—al dee fashion wi’ dee high peoples—Missa ******* tell de nigger-fiddler play him in dee great Ball at Awleens.
Jon.—But Sambo, money’s a purty scace article nayow-a-days, an I han’t got no good paper to write it ontu.
Sam.—Neber care for dat—I tell Massa Jemmy we gon’e to make song bout dee President—he gib us plenty paper—tell us plenty tings bout dee President—all bout he life.—He be dee hero Eh! Massa Jontan?—Massa Jemmy say dey always write bout dee hero—he great man always dat are hero—he almost big as gen’al.
Jon.—Whaigh—you don’t say so Sambo. Ef so be ’t he will, I shall be quit chirk abayout it.
Sam.—Oh! Massa Jemmy know all bout de President—he lib close to Massa Jemmy’s house—I know all he black peoples.
Jon.—I vags! that’ll be gest the thing Sambo—an mebby your master’ll shot it to the President—an then, ef he laughs abayout it, he’ll mebby make us a present a somethin’. I’ve ben thinkin’ on another plan but you mus’nt tell on’t to no-body Sambo— I’ve got kin of a notion the President I’ll be comin this way nex’ summer—so I’ll be watchin when he passes an’ hail him,—then, when he stops to shake hands, I’ll ges make a present teu him of the varses.
Sam.—Ah! Massa Jontan—I tell you noder ting bes’ of all—when dee President come to Mass Jemmy’s house [page 127] nex’ winter—I go to brush he coat—put dee song in he pocket.
Jon.—Well—I’m railly somethin’ of a notion that will be the best way after all. But I guess it’s abayout time for me to an’ grind my scythe on the grinstun—Mind you bring the paper Sambo!
Sam.—Neber fear dee nigger.
Jon.—Stay,—Oh! wife! I’m afear’d that are inkstun’s all dried up—you must send Nathan after some sof-maple bark to make plenty ginst the next rainy day—an’ I han’t got no good goosequills nother.
Sam.—I tell ’u where ’u git em,—I see some gooses toder day down by dee mill-pond—I think em drop some fedders dare. [page 128]
To the Tune of—“POSSUM UP DEE GUM-TREE.”
(With Classical Annotations by Sambo.)
“Possum up dee gum-tree—Racoon in dee hollow, “Figiny reels le’ss dance dayown—let all dee varmints follow. Yankee-doodle’s not the teune—a Jackal’s in the chair, So guessin’ folks from gayougin’ folks had or’t to keep em clare We calculate the notion nayow, of bein’ nation free, And Broad-horns must be darn’d, or bayow to Buckskin Tennessee. While ye of neighb’rin’ mushroom growth come neigh to the Dictator, No more to kick or flap your tails—half-hoss half-alligator; But either gallop sink or sweim t’ obey the voice o’ thunder, That shakes the States as if ’twould split ’em eeny most asunder. Whose oaths an ’threats like earthquakes Shake great Kamtuck’s slippery Clay,1 [page 129] But that’s no sawign—for I allayow “Each dog must have his day” Den possum up dee gum-tree—Racoon in de hollow, From Tuckehoe to Mississip, let all dee Jack-knives follow. Yet savage beasts can coax an crayouch—like lambs appear quite good. An’ some soft moments still are felt by painter in the wood; Lookin’ quite soft, when Pluto-like he snatch’d his Proserpine,2 Tho’ She poor shoat ambition lack’d a Queen in Hell teu shine; But Love alone then “rul’d the roast,” when leavin’ steupid spayouse, A buxom dame quite frisky grown, she scoff’d at Hymen’s3 vayows, While her rantin’ roarin’ hero nayow totes her below the line, Long known to sever all restraint—where rogues alone may shine An glidin’ dayown the muddy stream—reposin’ it is said, Not on Love’s softest roses sweet—but on a quick-lime bed; Til’ Cupid,4 takin’ a bad turn, the Furies gave in charge Teu guard their chosen favourite and safely steer the barge, [page 130] When hissin’ lime the heat keeps up first fann’d by Cupid’s care An’ manly oaths the place supply of vayows to soothe the fair. Pleas’d full as well remain’d ashore the husband all forsaken, Another help-mate there teu find for her by hero taken,5 The Fates decreeing then no dayoubt a lesson very pure, That Liberty should cherish still the flaws it cannot cure. Den possum up dee gum-tree—Racoon in dee hollow, De Jackal got him wife boys!—let all dee varmints follow6 The Jackal with his rough brayown hide, once fill’d with goolden Burrs, Whose out-stretch’d paw on other brutes importance high confers, By rifle law the rank he holds no more to be disputed, The forest nayow he roams at large to cut an’ slay deputed, So ye true sons of Liberty! and boastin’ high renayown, The Feds no more shall skeer ye nayow—their notions we’ll pull dayown, Henceforth shall ayour Columbia all other nations shayme, Embassydors ebsequious shall bayow before ayour dayme, And gravely eye the novel scene, delighted with the fun, Who never see’d such sights afore they came to Washington. I guess they’ll find we beat ’em all when they see Fed’ral City. [page 131] If they don’t think it mighty nice—why nayow—it is a pity.— We sarting cut all nations ayout with ayour inventions—cause in Ayour city there’s no noise nor fuss—gest built to make the laws in. And here you’ll find equality of every plan the basis, And all the public buildin’s put for this in sep’rate places— Which gives us all a chance you see—I awlus thought ’twas pity They did’nt make America all intu one great city. And in ayour city they make larn from Buckskin King and Queen, Who keep their levees every night as grand as e’er you seen, To dance all sorts a’ dances, and tu dress as rich as goold,— —By MISSUS Jackal up an’ dayown “the Figure a four” is rul’d And there you’ll see the Embassydors from every foreign land, With hayow and scrape so mighty slick—come up to take her hand Nayow hands across-move right an left—start straight dayown threu the middle Lah’d a massy on us! ain’t it fine?—I vayow I loves the fiddle! Play possum up dee gum-tree—Racoon in dee hollow, While missus Jackal leads the dance—let none but varmints follow. Nayow — ¬go to London, France an’ Spain—an’ all the for’in nations, You’ll see their lords an’ cayounts an’ deukes a stickin’ in their stations As stuff as wax-work all the while,—tarnation take their pride! An’ no poor man presaumes to dare to come anear their side, Or if they should the soldiers, Sir, would quicker make’em fly, With bagonets they’d stick’em threu as quick ’s you’d wink your eye But blessins on ayour Liberty!—we’ve no sich things to scare us. Of red-coats—drums an’ guns, an’ guards—a multitude nefarious [page 132] We han’t no need of sich restraints ayour actions teu encompass, It wa’nt but ’tother day the Embassydors kick’d up a rumpus, Because, when crowdin’ on to see the President’s levée, We happen’d to shove—for want a guards—their lordships ayout o’ the way. With us nayow—every sober decent clever man can go, To ball or levée—’mongst the best his head straight up to shew;— Nayow—ef John Bull should see a farmer walkin’ on before him Who offer’d him his horny fist—he’d scourge his indecorum,7 But here we say (in Liberty’s most free and happy land) “Hayow are you Mr. President?” an’ shake him by the hand Den possum up dee gum-tree—Racoon in dee hollow, Let eb’ry nation larn from dis equality to follow. An’ nayow—ef I had time to show, or you had time to hear me, I’d tell bayout ayour inventions—which, says my uncle Jeremy, Beat other nations all teu snuff”—There’s first that grand contrivance States-prison where rogues ne’er git ayout when they deu there arrive once, But there they stick teu drudge an’ delve till they are honest felluz, Wheras John Bull would hang a man for stealin’ twenty dullaz,— An awful shame!—while nayow with us—for every crime proportion’d, So many years we clap’em in jail, which makes States-prison more shunn’d Shan twenty hangin’s, tho’ some folks declare that many a sinner Would steal a hoss, or coneac ges teu git safely in there, [page 133] Then there’s your gun-boats and ayour Steam-boats—who but we e’er tho’t To make the water carry us when the wind blows or not? And as for fightin’ last war shows, an’ teu all ages will, Hayow ayour inventions “bore the bus” from Captain Bobadil I guess the British boys ’d a fayound, by killing each his man-a day, Ef Boney had’nt ben froze up, we’d soon a taken Canada. An’ there for larnin’,—every one must sartingly acknowledge What other people only git by twenty years at least, teu a boy that’s purty smart By gittin’ Webster’s Spellin-Book an’ the Grammar books by heart. When these grayound-works are well put in, (which no man need’nt dayoubt to gain,) There’s little dawnger as I think, that they will e’er git ayouta—gain,— For that’s the very wedge an’ beetle which threu all will drive An’ heavy skulls an’ empty skulls by it will equal thrive. By it ayour little garls are taught Belletres at the school, And at pathetic parts are made to sigh an’ cry by reule. An’ that’s the reason; I opine, why we’re so well unfawm’d, As ’tis confess’d by every one who threu ayour land has roam’d An’ fuddermore, with us you’ll find the best a’ English spoken, Of ayour fine edducasheon a most convincin’ token,— Look at ayour Congress-orators,—what most purdigious speeches, An’ hayow each priest in meetin’—hayouse, an’ at tea-table preaches The first know all the ticklin’-strings by which teu twitch tha nation, The last deal ayout the biggest dose of—Essence of Salvation. [page 134] An’ then for poems—Romance an’ all sich works of Genus, Whaigh tho’ we men to makin’ varses seldom deu demean us, (Leavin’ sich things as cuttin’ up words intu rhymes an’ measures, As only fit for little boys’ an’ women-folkses pleasures,) But yit we’ve writ enough teu show the world we leave all far low, Videlicet Columbiad by Poet Joel Barlow. Nayow, I presume you’ve larn’t enough—so, fear you’ll think me reude, I guess, I b’lieve, I calculate,—reckon I’ll conclude But first, should any critter think this is in ridicule, I’ll tell him teu his face an’ eyes, he is a ’tarnal fool! Den possum up dee gum-tree—Racoon in dee hollow, Let eb’ry varmint larn from dis—dee Jackal King to follow.
1. Ah! Massa Jontan dat bery hard line—I no able play em—He no good no how Old Kamtuck—hab too much dat’are Clay.
2. Missa Prospine ber putty gal—Massa Pluto run away wid her cause she so putty—He big man dat are Pluto—Massa Jemmy say he president too.
3. Who dat Hynum Massa Jontan? Whaigh Sambo I guess you or’t to know that—Hymen was a priest that use to marry ’em with a broom-stick lighted at one eend. Did’nt you neber hear ’em talk abayout “jumpin’ over the broom-stick?”—That means when they don’t git married by Hymen.
4. Ah! Massa Jontan, stop a little—I play you little song bout dat are Cupid—Massa Jemmy larn him tu me
“Cupid little hunter-boy—he shoot ’em in dee heart, “Dey tink he never go away—Oh! so bad he smart;— “Cupid laugh to see he arrow gib ’im drefful pain, “Den he pull he arrow out—an neber come again.”
5. He no care about he wife like Miss Prospine ma’ care for she datter. She go ebery where—all over de world—look—look—look for she datter—ask ebery-body if dey see Miss Prospine—Den she git pair wings—go ’way up in dee sky higher ’n all dee clouds, an’ all de mountains in dee world. She no find Miss Prospine dare. Den she git big pine light—dig deep hole in dee ground—go way down—down deeper ’n all dee seas—look—look for Miss Prospine—When he wife run ’way in dee lime boat—he neber look for her’t all—he git noder in dee woods do ges’s well!
6. An git he wife teu.
7. Dat ’along word mean bad havins—Massa Jemmy tell me o—he ben to Yale-College—he bring some long words—he bes’ larning in all de world—Massa Jemmy! [page 135]
DO THE NAVY OF GREAT BRITAIN.
Once more, my little lyre of humble choice, What tho’ thy untun’d chords are feeble all Unwilling oft to give the feeling voice Or when for grief or when for love I call. Yet once a bolder note vouchsafe!—the theme Too venturous I own for thee to achieve, But quit thyself as lyre it doth beseem, And then to long repose thy strings I leave. Strike to the Lords of Ocean! Let me raise The tribute due to naval gallantry, Wherever England’s peerless flag displays Its proud dominion o’er the subject sea! [page 136] I would not tell of countless thousands fall’n Whelm’d by her thunders into oceans caves, While the sear’d sea with the red tide was swoll’n,— Sleep they in peace beneath the briny waves. ’Tis the renown for honour which her sons Spread thro’ the world the herald of their name,— The spirit of bravery which thro’ them runs They still surpass by chivalrous acclaim. Death to the proud—protection to the weak— A heart for gentleness—a hand for war— Glory the only guerdon which they seek,— These are the triumphs of a British tar. Nurs’d on the boundless deep, their hearts are free,— Long prov’d in hardihood their wills are bold, Open and warm to generosity, To interest and baseness only cold. [page 137] It may be, that the air which they inhale Is purer, freer than the landsman breathes And that Old Ocean weighs in loftier scale The hearts of those whom with his crown he wreathes, It may be—that uprooted from the earth, Torn from its ties, and toss’d the world around Their fortunes’ rudness brings to light their worth As wave-worn pebbles are more polish’d found. I know not—but, for every grace that warms With generous impulses the many soul, For all that dignifies—exalts—disarms Of selfishness and grovelling control. —For native nobleness unwarp’d by art, Give me—(I speak disdaining adulation) Give me the seaman’s rough but genuine heart And it shall have my warmest admiration. [page 138]
Page 32—line 16.
“By the dark head of treachery at last doom’d to fall.”
Gen Agnew, who took Germantown, during the American Revolution, was treacherously shot by an unknown hand while engaged in a consultation with his officers on the approach of the American forces. The brigade, which he commanded being forced to retreat, he was buried on the spot. His grave is still shown with gratitude and affection by a superannuated old woman who remembers his kindness to the inhabitants of Germantown among the most endeared incidents of her early years.
Page 80—Line 1.
LINES ON THE MEDALLIAN HEAD OF ARIADNE
Oh! why should woman every love, Throwing her chance away, Her little chance of shine Upon a rainbow ray? Look back on each old history, Each fresh remember’d tale, They’ll tell how often love has made The cheek of woman pale. [page 141] Her unrequited love a flower, Dying for air and light Her love betray’d, another flower Wither’d before a blight. Look down within the silent grave, How much of breath and bloom Have wasted passion’s sacrifice Offer’d to the silent tomb! Look on her hour of solitude, How many bitter cares Belie the smile with which the lip Would sun the wound it bears. Mark this sweet face! Ah never blush Has past o’er one more fair, And never o’er a brighter brow Has wander’d raven hair And mark how carelessly those wreaths Of curl are flung behind, And mark how pensively the brow Leans on the hand reclin’d ’Tis she of Crete—another proof Of woman’s weary lot, Their Aged doom of sun and shower To Love—then be forgot. [page 142] Heart-sickness, feelings tortured, A sky of storm above, A path of thorns—these are love’s gifts, Ah! why must woman love!
Page 103—line 4—“Her talents, &c.
Alluding to the death of an American Lady, universally admired and esteemed for her many acquirements and correct classical taste. She was supposed to have been ship-wrecked, as the vessel in which she had embarked at Charleston to come to N York, was never heard of.
Page 104—line 10—“That shame on her mountain, &c.
This lady was celebrated for her chemical and mineral researches and studies in natural history.
Page 121—line 1—“Tyrants of Liberty &c”
The disgraceful outrages here alluded to, committed in the year 1307, under the pretext of suppressing treason,—on private property and a helpless family in the absence of its protector, by a band of undisciplined and unprincipled militia, at the instigation of those who then held the reins of government, are too well known to those who have taken any concern in the history of that period, to need any comment.
Page 129—line 6—“Broad-horns.”
A term given by the Virginians to the inhabitants of the New-England states from their using oxen. The Virginians use horses.
Page 129—line 6—“Buckskin,”
A name applied to the back-woodsmen or hunters on the American frontiers from their using the deer-skin as an article of clothing. [page 143]
Page 129—line 8—“Half-hoss, half-alligator,”
The Kentuckians are so called from the principal staple of the country being horses and from their possessing in the early settlement of the state the almost exclusive trade of the Mississippi, where alligators abound.
Page 130—line 10.—“Totes her below the line,”
The line here alluded to is Ellicots line, as it was called, that formerly separated the Mississippi Territory from the Spanish dominions—“To tote,” signifies to carry—as they say in the Southern States—“a negro totes a pail of water on his head.
Page 133—line 4,—“Clever” is used for good-natured.
Page 134—line 16
“And at pathetic parts are made to sigh an’ cry by reule”
A certain MISS—of boarding-school memory much countenanced at one time at L——— in the United States, taught the young ladies in her charge, while reading, to hold their pocket handkerchiefs in readiness to be applied to the fountains of tears as such parts as her own delicate sensibility should dictate to be most pathetic. [page 144]
A NEGRO’S BENEVOLENCE.
Man’s ever right in his own eyes:—whate’er You show him excellent in other men, Humane, benevolent, upright, sincere,— If they be counted pure—without a stain Of earthly dregs, and Passion’s self restrain From blinding impulse,—in his breast he’ll find A sample of their virtues:—nay, ’tis plain, Theirs are but counterfeit—of spurious kind, While his are gold—pure gold, sprung from a spotless mind. [page 147]
“The world by love of gain and praise is rul’d,— “’Tis to the motive we should look alone— “The greatest sages have at times—been fool’d “By vicious men, to sun and passion prone,— “The dress they wore, so much like virtues’ own, “E’en Scrutiny himself it might deceive, “Till touch’d by time the cloak fell instant down, “And core of rottenness was seen to leave “Men should examine well before they credence give.
As he, who living at the farthest bound Of a proud street long and magnificent, In humble cottage, neat, and deck’d around With small conveniences that yield content To his confined desires, should represent The domes and palaces that distant rise, (In the perspective all their grandeur spent, As too fantastic, and of low emprise, Not for convenience made but for rude gazer’s eyes. [page 148]
Thus mortals reason:—Each, in his own breast, And the felicities he finds there lost, Will measure in perspective all the rest— The veriest weight by whom your path is cross’d Would show (if you but knew what’s in him most,) That even the lowest of the human race By naked Want, and vagrant heaven dealt each place Himself it would upraise and others all debase.
Search distant regions—from the Hindoo priest To him—the naked wanderer that hunts Thro’ northern snows, and picks the uncertain feast, Now from the beaver’s tail—now hap’ly stunts His appetite to husky skins and runts Of d varfish roots torn up with eager greed, That hides his ignorance—the other blunts, With the same salvo all the ills of need,— Each damns all other ways and hugs his father’s creed. [page 149]
Empires, and systems, nations, sects and casts, With every differing age in this agree,— To love themselves—each one his form contrasts, In what ’tis beautiful, from blemish free. With what awry in others he may see, And thence concludes from certain premises That his the fairest form of all should be — In him alone the sunlight perfect is, The others only beam reflected radiances.
And so, where Grey-beard Education long With birchen law has plied the ductile mind, (Even by its self-abasement rendered strong) And all its subtle energies confined In intellectual mazes, undefined To wits untutored in her school’s stiff Pride, With matchless arrogance, says heaven designed Her head alone for Reason’s ruling tide,— To those without her pale even common sense denied. [page 150]
Thus, when the naked savage they harangue With their inventions, and the powers of Art, He who knows nothing but the bow to twang, With arrow whizzing to the panther’s heart, Nor other powers but those his nerves impart; Firm-braced by toil and hardy enterprise, Tells them he knows the nimble dear to start, And other arts and knowledge can despise: They call him “Savage—scarce above the brute that dies.”
They bid him fell the trees ’mong which are east His father’s bones, and reap the fruits of toil,— To build a shelter that may fend the blast, And guard the sweat-earn’d tribute of the soil.— —“Give me my native hills, and of the spoil “Of beasts that range free as myself possessed, “I scorn the sordid heaps for which you broil; “And, free from care, with nature’s bounty blessed, “Fling me at night upon my healthy snows to rest. [page 151]
Borne in a bark that seemed a moving isle, (By skill traditional not instinct wrought) The frizzled African unknowing guile, The sons of art with cruel purpose sought; They found him simple, free, in fraud untaught,— The victim of his own benevolence, Decoyed by friendship’s garb in snares they caught, And, bleeding from his home, distraught of sense, To toil beneath the lash they bore him o’er the immense.
And why? It chanced his skin’s fair crystalline Was thickened by the sun’s prevailing ray, And that his heart untutored was a shrine For strong affection more than reason’s sway;— His life in joys primeval past away, Free from ambition and from lust of gain:— There music breathed her rude impassioned lay, Her housing notes o’er nerves alone obtain, With unsymphonious loudness tearing out her strain. [page 152]
They found his mind unlettered.—What avail To him the masked mysteries of things? Nature on him pour’d forth in full entail All the delights that science with her wings Expansive soaring from her mazes brings Of deep research and demonstration.—Blest With the sun’s light—the shadow of the vale, He spent the flying hours as seem’d him best, By care of wealth unvex’d, by rapine undistress’d.
His brain unracked by study—this pretence Doth Education take to call him “void “Of man’s distinguishing pre-eminence,— “His soul with something baser is alloyed; “Or if ’twas bright,—its brightness is destroy’d “By ignorance and degradation vile, “’Tis doubtful that his frame is not employed In mock’ry of our own by Satan’s wile, “Slave!—he shall slake our vengeance doomed to stripes and toil.” [page 153]
Ashamed to own him brother when his hue Would wound their pride, his guiltless heart they brand, With foul aspersions,—“he is base,—untrue,— “A faithless coward in his native land, “And here his service fears alone command; “Low wishes rule him—passions unsubdued “Beyond the power of reason to withstand, “His breast is void of sentiment and rude,— “The blooded lash alone can tame his savage mood.”
But what colour? Is the soul allied To yellow, green,—to orange, flesh, or pink? Colour is fancy—with the self-same pride On his black plume the raven loves [x] [x], As on his white the swan—(along the brink Of rushy stream, sailing with high-arched neck) Nor do we call that brute a higher link Whose hide is white, unblemished by a speck, Than that whose colour’s red, roan, brownish, dun or black. [page 154]
Unless perchance the highly-lettered mind By deep-extracted simile shall say, “Black still’s the baser colour—for we find “The diamond which gathers every ray “And seems to emulate the sparkling day “Is the same substance as the filthy coal “Prized only for the sparks it flings away, “For use designed—thus may the Negro’s soul “Tho’ like our own, be but a portion of the whole.”
Yet is the Negro’s heart; however bowed By crushing slavery, and grovelling fear, With human nature’s sympathies endowed, As bright, as pure, magnanimous, sincere, As those which in our own loved skin appear, Last to my tale, from truth is drawn its source, (Be that its praise —Fancy can never rear The structure fraught with native truth’s full force,) It shows the Negro’s heart benevolent, tho’ coarse. [page 155]
A tale that may be told around the hearth On which the up-blazing flame glows white and blue, Some winter’s night, when all replete with mirth, On foreign ills may spend a thought or to, (In other circumstance men seldom do,) Or if perchance too vulgar you opine, The open laughter-loving fireside;—you May tell the same at table where you dine, When other subjects fail, over a glass of wine.
Browned by the sun, and battered by the blast Of keen adversity,—his best days spent, Homeless, and friendless, on the wide world cast, Far from the rugged hills where erst he spent His youthful years in pleasant merriment, A hardy son of Scotia—one of those Who seek in other climes emolument, By fortune driven along his country’s foes, Had come on Mississippi’s banks his life to close. [page 156]
Full hard for him to brook the bitter taunt Of heated democratic insolence, And longed he much their boastings vain to flaunt, With England’s flag, and put their high pretence For martial skill to stricter evidence. He loved his country,—Scotchmen always do, Where’er they wander bear the same high sense Of Patriotism:—Tho’ bleak their country,—few Like Scotchmen to their country’s weal prove true.
For he had fought in foreign climes,—in Spain, And by the far-off plague-engendering Nile, ’Neath Abercrombie’s standard, and again With Wellington pursued the man of guile Who late in Europe wrought full many a wile,— Had borne the brunt of many a bitter fight, And trod with measured step full many a mile, For courage proved,—for skill and martial might, Doubt not their boastings pierced his British mettle quite. [page 157]
He fled their scoffings:—and the wilds among Sought out a resting place, where he at will Might muse, unvexed with factions rancorous tongue, Which even from looks vile treason can distil,— Where he might wander by the pleasant rill, Indulging Memory’s delusive dream, Or at the closing day, slow time to kill, Chat with the swains as meetly doth beseem Those who their rough-cast thoughts not unamusing deem.
One grief was left.—he saw from day to day, The human cattle driven to the toil, Gored with the lash by men more brutes than they, —He saw the flesh back from the lash-wounds coil, And ’neath the cruel sun the gashes broil,— He cursed the unfeeling wretches for the deed, Cursed too the fruits thus plundered from the seed. Rather that man the bread of life should need, Than taste the sweets for which his fellow-creatures bleed. [page 158]
Not distant far—a summer-evening’s walk, Uprose Palmyra, from that ancient seat Ycleped, whose ruins once the common talk, (By Volney rescued from oblivion To found the ruin of his creed upon,) Thro’ witless herds had spread the levelling flame, For Reason Reason’s bulwarks to pull down.— They both are like, in colour, as in name, Brown—one with age, and one with wooden huts the same.
Hither MacDonald oft would stray—(I’m bound To tell the truth—even to the very name, And therefore tho’ the muse reject the sound, As all too modern and of low acclaim, Against her ear for once I’ll risk my fame, And, as his fathers call’d him, so must she,) Picking amusement from whatever came, To charm the eye as wending carelessly He conquered furrowed vale, brown hill and road-side tree. [page 159]
Mild is the clime, and fair the prospect spreads, With fields in fields most beautifully lost, Stretching in broad expanse their wavy beds, By negros’ huts and by-roads frequent cross’d, Afar the Mississippi pours his host Of mighty waters rolling to the main, With tufts of trees and grassy isles embossed, Along its banks extends the golden plain, Where grow the silky cotton and the sugary cane.
Oft ’neath the shade the tall magnolia cast, Pleased with the view, he whiled the hours away, What time the sun her middle arch had pass’d, And nature blithe, to want his zenith ray, Awakening from the sultry dumb decay, With cooler breath ’gan robe her limbs in dew.— The lawn around with opening flowers was gay, Their drooping wings the warbling choir renew, Unfrequent first, then fast, along the glade they flew. [page 160]
Beyond him stretched the interminable waste, Impervious to the sun e’er since the flood, With the luxuriant cane so interlaced, His fiercest noon-tide ray it had withstood— Thick-tangling here and there the underwood For the dire monster built the effective screen, There crouched the panther in his ireful mood, There lounged the bear of senatorial mein, And there the fat opossum chose his hair to yean.
In native pride the fir-tree rear’d his cone, The elm and maple heaved their heads to heaven, The ash, that ne’er with hollow-echoing groan By sacrilegious woodman had been riven, The oak, that long with all the winds had striven Torn up at length lay stretched upon the ground, Sheer through the tall trees had his huge hulk driven, Their hanging splinters owned the dreadful wound,— The hare and partridge in its levelled top abound. [page 161]
Here he who erst his native hills among, At morning starting from his heathery bed, From brae to brae with lightsome heart had sprung, And over fell and moor and mountain sped, To rouse the dun-deer from his covert shed, Still loved to range in memory of the past, While yet nor strength nor youth were wholly fled, The wilds where all magnificent and vast Proclaimed that nature here profused her grandest cast.
Oft would he wander when the rosy sun Spread out his first soft fleecy folds of light, Over a glowing prospect, and begun That course which soon with hour increasing might Shall drink up all the dewy moisture quite.— Fair is the sun on Mississippi’s wave, Her mists he seems to drink with pure delight, Fair is the land whose dark-brown waters lave, To Scotland’s musing exile sweet the tho’ts they gave. [page 162]
The bright-haired sun was up—the smile of June O’er all the scene a verdant flush had thrown, From every bush pourd forth the joyous tune, The elastic boughs with dew hung heavy down, Forth fared he gay-hearted and alone:— Never was morning half so glorious seen, Never had scene so bright—so lustrous shone, So lovely was the summer’s leafy sheen, Seemed it as if in glorious Fairy-land he’d been.
With frequent pause, the still continuous plain He trod, inhaling of the balmy air That, charged with sweetness from the fields of cane, Fluttered along as if afraid to mar The spell of beauty that was every where Infused with such a charm of new delight, Ne eye of man saw ever ought so fair,— Such sweetness, and such melting colours bright At length the peerless sun attained more powerful height:— [page 163]
The dewy balm vanished,—sweltering Poured down the searching floods of liquid heat, The little birds let fall the wearied wing, —Hushed was the warbling of their voices sweet,— The lowing herds o’ercome refuse to eat. —Amid the forest’s thick-inwoven shade Sought he the cool sequestered retreat, Seizing what path the browzing herd had made Where through the thick-set canes the sunbeams faint’y played.
Musing he wandered on,—in full review Came up the motley movements of his life, Back to the hour when first his young heart knew, With all the dreams of inexperience rife The pleasing anxiousness of love’s fond strife— —’Twas thus in sylvan bower Mariah stood And heard him plight his faith to make her wife: Against a tree he leaned in pensive mood, While dear-remembered thoughts came o’er him like a flood. [page 164]
’Twas thus she clasped him in her arms and said, “Ah! wherefore wander? stay—thou hast at home “All the delights that peace and virtue shed “Upon the heart of innocence,—thou wilt roam “A round of pleasures cold and wearisome,— “Honour and glory say thou wilt obtain, “Will these reward thee for a foreign tomb? “Thou art full as dear to me my humble swain— “Oh then! forget thy purpose and with me remain!”
One blissful tear escaped.—Why had he not Obeyed his loved Mariah’s dear request Than had he tasted in his narrow lot, The sweetest cares of man—the fondest—happiest— Of all life that life is worth, possessed— Ah! he would give a world for the dear press With which she strained him to her tortured breast Her artless mind dissolved in deep distress,— Naught he had known sweet as Mariah’s last caress. [page 165]
Slow past he on, while nothing came to break The current of his mental revelling, Save that, at times the bough would start and shake And vengeful stroke upon the intruder fling; Or the scared bird lift up the drooping wing For partial flight,—then settle down again.— A gloominess to thought most nourishing And the cool freshness of the shade restrain His mind from all desire to seek the sultry plain.
So wrapt in meditation was he,—lost In the oblivious reading of the past, Ne roused him ’till the sun had crossed The arch of heaven, and, sailing westward fast A level ray upon the forest cast,— The cane-leaves spread around the obstructive hedge, He saw one ray and knew it was the last, Twinkling upon a high leaf’s golden edge, Of other glorious career that gave the pledge. [page 166]
Surprised he stood bethinking of his case,— “He could not from his path have wandered far,” —Then seizing straight has homeward steps to trace A transverse course that seemed directed where That morn he had estrayed him void of care, Nor doubting once he led his steps aright, Briskly he bounded onward till a star, Shot through the leaves, proclaimed the young twilight, —In double darkness down came brooding silent night.
Startled—confounded, still he wandered on, And saw in prospect still the opening plain, And now the dim twilight more clearly shone, And now the shout of herd-compelling swain Rung in his ears and urged him on to strain His utmost nerve —the sweat from every pore Washed—while all issue still he sought in vain — He wandered till his limbs would yield no more, Then sunk exhausted down and all his hopes gave o’er. [page 167]
Long time he lay and in his mind resolved The imprudent wish that led his steps astray, —Saw all his happiness in woe dissolved,— A plaintive voice that treacherous winds convey, —He starts with joy and bends his steps that way, With cry responsive all the echoes rent,— —It was the panther’s moan,—in wild dismay One scream of terror through the woods he sent, Bristled with fear,—then sunk in languishment.
—Fair as the visions of the “world unknown,” And sweet as music in the heavenly spheres, With the sun’s sleepy ray the forest shone, In every bush the wakened choir appears,— —From dread and dreams delerious uprears His anguished head.—“Stay dear Mariah—stay! “Didst thou not rescue me—I feel thy tears “Fresh on my cheek—ah no! it is the spray “That dropples down, I am left bewildered in my way.” [page 168]
“Me thought among “Vich-Alpine’s” hills I roved, “To spring the tender pheasant-hen for thee,— “Climbing the steep my treacherous foothold moved, “Down—down I sink in endless jeopardy, “Below me still a monster dire I see, “With jaws wide-opened raging to devour,— “Then shrined in beauty thou didst come to free, “And snatch me from Destruction’s scapeless power, “And that thou hadst me safe I felt thy teary shower”
Again the sun in his array is dressed, Bathes him in dew and cools him in the streams, Yet long he lingers on Aurora’s breast, And calls the clouds to hide his amorous beams; Love-chained behind their virgin veils, he seems Soft-slumbering scarce to feel his radiance.— —Such morn is beautiful like to the dreams That laughing play on youthful Innocence, Sprinkling from odorous flower-cups’ healing redolence. [page 169]
—Fair through the morn, to him it springs in vain, The sun he sees not nor the lighted scene; His rolling eye the sylvan shades restrain, He scarce may see the sky the leaves between;— His onward ken the thickening arbours screen, The drizzling dews down-splash in drenching rills,— Wet his attire as he in flood had been, Cold—damp dejection forward prospects chills, And fear of springing monster, him with horror fills.
Again he pierced the path-bewildered wood, And sought (in vain) some champagne-issuing vent; The mournful silence of the solitude, Fell with unwelcome boding as he went, Upon his spirit with fear and fasting spent,— The thirsty Noon was panting for his breath,— The boughs no more with dewy drops besprent, Hushed was all nature like the smile of death, Or like the pause which bodes the tempest’s gathering wrath. [page 170]
Again the little birds their evening hymn From all the quivering boughs in concert pour, And nature in serene and cheerful trim, Seemed as all things she would again restore To that calm innocence which erst they bore In Paradise:—Such evening he had seen Among his native hills oft time before, After a sportive day thrown on the green. To watch the sun depart—the stars come twinkling.
His eye,—his soul could never look unmoved On the fair face of nature.—Even now, Spent as he was with all that he had proved Of dark incertitude and stress of woe, A smile played faintly on his pallid brow, —Such pleasant fragrance in the stirless air, Such strain of music thrilling to and fro, Charmed for a moment all the weight of care,— Sweeter that moment’s charm thus rescued from despair. [page 171]
He gazed in sad delight —An old rought elm Pond’rous with years, frown’d grimly o’er the wood He knew the tree,—fresh sorrows overwhelm His failing heart,—There yesterday he stood And of his life’s unblest vicisitude Counted what bade at numerous pauses weep;— Again for his Mariah poured the flood, —For her, and all his other griefs, till sleep, Grief’s bitterness in rest, came gently on to steep.
A troublous scene between each sigh’s deep spasm Led him a whild interminable maze,— Now swells a topless steep,—now yawns a chasm. —Enveloped in Cimmerian night he strays, While every step the sliding ground betrays— —Sudden broke out a pure and holy light,— Mariah circled in a radiant blaze, Offered her and with angel look,—the night Engulfed her in his jaws,—he screamed with maddening fright. [page 172]
He woke—The air was roaring with his voice, From thousand trees struck back the dreadful cry, Night with her sister Silence—at the noise Startled, and bade her echoes all reply.— The little birds in stupid wonder fly, Scared at the unwonted sound from bush to bush, Their flight they could not by the moon descry,— The hare and squirrel through the thick leaves rush Confusion ceased at last and all the grove was hush.
’Twas at the hour when midnight holds her court Of most serene and solemn stillness,—not A single breeze durst carry the report That Nature’s pulse was beating,—so full-wrought The pause,—the swell of waters faintly caught Seemed but a whisper from the eternal tomb, To which all living things must sure be brought (Thence to be quickened into second bloom) —The moon half-showed her dusky face out to increase the gloom. [page 173]
At length dull Night resumed her ebon car, And slowly—sullenly forsook her throne A frowning duskiness she cast afar As up the east the peerless sunbeam shone, The partridge whirred his muster-roll alone; The barking foxes all the grove molest In raillery of watch-dog’s deep-mouthed tone, The dozy owl flew hooting off to rest,— And all was life and noise in open day confessed.
With failing strength, again, and fainting heart, The now despondent task he must renew, And try (in vain) if fortune would impart Some happier path the dreary labyrinth through, From roots and herbs what sustenance he drew (Pernicious oft) uncertain force supplied, His only drink the little cups of dew That in the hollow-leaved magnolia’s hide,— From day today, his strength, his hopes, his life, subside. [page 174]
Twelve days he wandered,—on the thirteenth, spent, His limbs no more the wonted and supply,— Still with the last faint ray of hope he bent His every nerve if yet he might descry Some door of refuge,—one short, feeble cry,— One groan that pined distressfully away, And down he flung him in despair to die:— The turkey-buzzards gather in array, As soon as life departs to pounce upon their prey.
It chanced,—denounced for some obnoxious strife, (Curse on the laws that leave man free to kill His brother man,—that render human life The uncertain tenure of a tyrant’s will!) Fled from the wretch who sought his blood to spill, There came that way a hunted Negro slave,— He doubted no his lord would soon fulfil His blood purpose,—and his life to save He fled;—’t were vain he knew for lenience to crave. [page 175]
From swamp to swamp in jeopardy he went, A slave—an exiled wretch—a vile outcast— One day he came, where deadly pale, and spent. A white man lay, in death relaxing fast;— Patient he seemed,—all hope of succour past, Waiting from remnant life to be unbound —The shrivelled cheek—the hollow eye aghast, The clenching teeth—the quivering lips around, All in the Negro’s heart a vein of pity found.
What think’st thou?—In his mind did there arise A storm of thoughts,—a scruple—balancing Between his heart, and the contingencies Of punishment his tenderness might bring?— Perhaps he did exult to see the sting Of death on one of his destroyers brought; Or yet—perchance it was but pondering On rich reward that moved his heart—Believe it not! [page 176]
He saw a fellow-creature in distress,— Enough he saw, nor could his heart misgive The warmth of its benevolence—the press Of sympathies that urged him to relieve— (Blest are those sympathies! Blest,—I believe Above all that the moral page pretends) A human being at life’s last stage to leave He could not brook—Even though his life depends Upon the step, he bore him to his home—his friend. [page 177]
SHE DIED AT THE FALL OF THE LEAF.
At the foot of a hill, on the Green-Mountain’s side, Lived Elmira, her mother’s sole solace and pride, Their wants and their cares a few acres supplied, They were happy and lived all alone; Like a little bird’s nest in the midst of a bough Their hut of round logs as the tall trees allow That wave round the hill and look down from its brow In modest concealment was shown. While the flowers were all dripping her garden she dressed, And so artless the change by her culture impressed That nature well-pleased the improvement confessed, And copied its charms from the maid. He hue of her cheek by the apple was worn, Her locks were the silks of the tasseling corn, Her breath on the gale with her rose-trees’ was borne, That grew by the house in the shade. [page 179] As she went to fetch water at noon from the spring The Zephyr would quicken his fluttering wing, And, wafting cool odours around her would fling The freshness that breathed in the wild; As she wandered and listened the sound of the bell When the shadows of night on the deep forest fell, The grove pour’d its song all its fondness to tell, And the sun-set more blushingly smiled. As nature arrays, through her limpid mind pass The fair copies of things; or, if bodings harass Uninnocent—soon as the air from the glass Wipes the mist—breaks the burden of thought, Yet sometimes bewildered her steps she will lose, And as all the scene in its richness she views, On something unknown she will suddenly muse, And sigh tho’ she knows not for what. Not far from the road on the hill-side arose A waste which the loose rock disorderly strews,— The blackberry there in wild nakedness grows And alone to the scene gives relief,— The sun the last remnant of day was delivering, The jay’s dismal scream thro’ the dead air was quivering, The maples were crimsoned the beech-trees were shivering It was just at the fall of the leaf. [page 180] A little bark-basket was hung round her arm, To the winds flowed her locks in array of alarm, From a rock to the fruit as bent forward her form. The statue of beauty she stood; —A rustling is heard in the bramble-dell near, Her crimson fades fast at the impulse of fear, Then rallying back thick the blushes appear, As a stranger steps forth from the wood. The free-moulded form with the shoulder of might, The bold mountain-step energetic and light, The mien independent asserting its right, The American axman declare, A-picking black-berries as nearer he came, The maiden has hushed all her fears, but a flame, Starts—trembles—and bustles all over her frame, As the thunder-light plays in the air. While the largest and blackest the bushes supplied He picked, and to give them came up to her side, “I have come to hire out for the season,” he cried, “Do you know any one who would hire?” “My Mother, Sir, lives at the foot of the hill,— “We are left all alone thro’ tho winter so chill, “We have no one to go with our corn to the mill, “Or to fetch us home wood for the fire.” [page 181] The log-heap is piled of the maple and beech, See the bursting chips far in the driven snows reach, The back-log and fore-stick are severed off each, While the distant woods echo the din; The snow-bank my grow and the frost chain the night, And the forest oft crack with the conqueror’s might, With clay and with moss every chink is made tight, And three happy hearts are within. The snow slinks away at the breathing of Spring, The pioneer crows are now seen on the wing, His axe it is time for the woman to swing, And Elnathan goes forth to his chopping; As he tracks out the snow-path and welcomes the breeze, Where bristle and threaten the age-secure trees, Future corn-fields already in prospect he sees, With pumpkins thick here and there dropping. The line is marked out and the aim is addressed, Twenty giants at once to the ground shall be pressed, ’Tis the scene which the axman of all loves the best, The fury—the roar of the “slashing;”— It is noon, and the signal is heard far and near, —A shrill melting voice it were music to hear,— But the stroke rests awhile from its murderous career. And her voice is now lost in the crashing. [page 182] It crashes—it crashes—the roar will not cease, —Now it thunders no more and its echoes are less, She pauses—She listens—a shriek of distress, —“Oh Mother!—I hear him—he’s dying!” —The soft snow receives her,—alas! that its bed To a life of despair should recal from the dead, She revives as the plough-mangled flower lifts its head, Stem-broken—its brittle leaves lying. But the Spring has return’d in her mantle of green, The earth puts forth blossoms to welcome the queen, Alas! that her charms should be wasted unseen. Since her date like Elmira’s is brief, Her garden last year like Elmira was gay, Like her garden Elmira’s now withering away, If she weeps with her mother—’tis only to say, “I shall die at the fall of the Leaf.” “Oh! bring my bark basket, dear mother”—she cried “In my wedding-gown dress, me all fit for a bride, “On the black-berry heath he will come to my side,— “He is there and already a-picking,” She marked not the yellow clouds shading the Sun, Nor the leaves from the trees falling one after one, She hears not the boding blast thro the trees run Nor the blue-jay her funeral shrieking. [page 183] She returns—but already the death-dew has stricken, Her eyes fade in languor—her cheeks fade and sicken,— No cordial the dim rays of beauty can quicken, She yields to the poison of grief, “Oh Mother! I cannot live longer”—she cried, “This world has no beauty—why should I abide? “Elnathan is gone—then she faltered and died.”— —She died at the fall of the leaf. [page 184]
THE REMEMBRANCE OF YOUTH IS A SIGH.
Youth!—of every season sweetest, Youth!—I love thee and regret thee! —I would not for the world forget thee. Wheresoe’er thou Memory meetest, By the tree—or by the brook Revisited when long forsook, There thou art with rosy face, Eye of glee, and heart uncumbered, Sporting in thy day of grace, Running round thy busy race, With a hope that has not slumbered. Scattering flowery joys unnumbered? What is knowledge—thought—experience!— These in age will waste away, As an old tree’s boughs decay, But, while nature has adherence In the heart—the will—the mind, As at the old tree’s root we find Tiny infant shoots up-springing, Round the withered parent clinging. [page 185] Youth shall still bloom up afresh Through the memory of the past,— —A thing to bless—a thing to last, With all the life of breathing flesh. Free from struggle—pure from passion, Is the thought of days gone by, When we strive to form and fashion What we were,—relight the eye Recal the fire—the youthful hue, And all the grace of limbs renew. If in age—about thy dwelling Thou goest lone—companionless, While every ancient thing is telling “All is fled that once could bless”— —Sit thee down—indulge thy sorrow! Let Memory fill the vacancy! She from travelled climes can borrow New delights,—and thou mayest see With all thine infant earnestness, Lucid gleams of brightness flitting, Busy schemes that crowd and press, Hopes new plans of life begetting, Ending all in nothingness; Like the swimming shapes that mock [page 186] The straining eye-ball in the dark, While we chase the dancing flock, They melt away and leave no mark. Is there in thy heart no feeling? All its kindly warmth decayed,— —It holds—tho’ in its depth concealing, One halcyon spots that cannot fade. Like the Widow’s cruise of oil Is the sigh for youthful days; Tho’ men have made thy heart a spoil That sigh is left—the last which stays. Tho’ thy heart be as the rock Let youthful memory on it rush, —It shall own the magic shock, And streams of former joys shall gush. Thou wilt sigh,—but oh! think not The sorrow of that sigh is bitter! Or when youth can be forgot, To bless its flight for age is fitter! That sigh shall from her grave unbind Fancy of the wanton wing,— She again those seats shall find Where thy young heart she used to bring; And o’er thy aged vision blind, [page 187] The tints of rosy youth shall fling, And to thy half-believing mind, The very notes of youth shall sing. As the full-toned Autumn-wind, Chants the requiem of the Spring. If in thy heart one ray is left, As morning fresh—as dew-fall calm,— One drop the world has not bereft Of all its gust—of all its balm; If thou canst think and feel as when Thy cup of joy was yet unprimed, And all thy thoughts of things and men To Fancy’s foot alone were timed; —When thou couldst life drink from the eye; And blush for conscious blush return, Nor deem the glow could ever die, The fire of feeling cease to burn; If still thy breast that form enfold, Which Love’s young hand has sculptured there; Tho’ its likeness now is cold, Buried in the grave—despair; And Oh! if Love thy flower of spring, Has hailed to blight and not to bless, For rifled joys has left his sting,— [page 188] Left thee cold and comfortless;— —Then with me thou hast confessed Of the years to man allotted, Youth is far the happiest, And with fewest sorrows spotted. Is there a whisper thrilling yet, At times when nature can’t dissemble And now and then will blushes flit, And the heart-pulses start and tremble! —That whisper is the voice of love, The sweetest voice thou e’er hast known, Till life is run thy heart shall move Exultant to that stirring tone. And is there sometimes in the air, A balmy breath—a rosy dew, A sunlight more serenely fair, A sky of deeper heavenlier hue? —Thus looked the sunny fields—the sky, The perfume of the air the same, What time abundant youth thine eye, Filled with Love’s delighted flame. And after mirth all unexpected, While there steal a dear—dear sigh, That shows though slumbering and neglected; [page 189] Love can never wholly die? Of buried hopes that sigh’s the knell, Of youthful pleasures faded fast, The only record left to tell, The spirit of the happy past, And dost thou still delight to wander, O’er the scenes of Infancy, And upon those thoughts to ponder, That once could fill thy heart with glee? And when thy heart these things remembers, Is there yet a gleam that flashes, Like the spark of mouldering embers, Dying in their shroud of ashes?— Dost thou think that heart can ever Beat again as once it did? Or when age and sorrow sever, Joy can wanton as ’tis bid? Then if in thy latter day, When age thy remnant joys is rifling, Thou should’st mark absorbed in play, Youth with all its ardour trifling, Will not a tear unbidden stray, And roll resentful of thy stifling? [page 190] Like the raindrop’s puttering sound, On the dozy fire-heap cast, Are the stingings of the wound, That marks the unreturning past. Ah! think with me and say of youth That ’tis the only time of bliss! ’Tis then we full with feeling’s truth, With passions all but its excess. When the tender mind untought, Sipped the flow of Innocence, From crimeless heart—from sinless thought,— That was Joy’s Omnipotence. Is not the shoot which rises pure, From out twin lobes so delicate, As beautiful in miniature, As is the tree of lordliest state? Does not babbling rill that gushes, Clear as crystal down the rock, Please as well as that which rushes On to meet the Ocean’s shock? Is not the first blush of morning Beautiful as blaze of day? Do we love mild Spring’s returning [page 191] Less than Summer’s ardent sway? Age may boast a diadem Of dazzling bright magnificence:— Youth ’tis true, has but one gem, But that’s the pearl of Innocence! Tho’ the fickle mind and tender, No fixed character express, Yet we love the young offender, For its very artlessness. Never can the witching play Which youth’s vacant moments stole, Fancy—wheedled all the day, E’er be blotted from the soul! Those youthful kissings of the eye, That the inmost soul detect, As the Sun in tropic sky, His rays returning meets direct, Never in the heart can die, Nor their memory be checked. Until Reason’s self shall fail, And the mind forget her order, Youth’s prime of sweetness shall prevail, —A spring of everlasting verdure. [page 192]