Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Secaucus, NJ 1997. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.
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In Charles Haswell's Reminiscences of New York by an Octogenarian (1816-1860) (online; just click on it if you're reading this in the Web-based archive), I ran across this: "Joseph Rodman Drake published his 'Culprit Fay' in this year"(1819). Who or what is a "Culprit Fay"? The Dictionary of American Biography explains, it was "written during three days, in August 1816, and was prompted by the challenging remark that American rivers are too poorly furnished with mythologicial and legendary lore to be subjects of poetry." Also, it was "long remembered as one of the best American poems". How many Americans would be challenged by such a remark today?
Samuel Kettell's Specimens of American Poetry might be said to have "damned him with faint praise", saying that he left behind a poem called the Culprit Fay which has "been spoken of in favorable terms", and including only the short poem "The American Flag", which "shows him to have been a poet of promising talent" (Kettle's work, published in 1829, was criticized for its inclusivity and called Goodrich's "Kettle of Poetry").
The following are from The Gutenberg Project's (http://www.promo.net/pg) huge collection of public domain literature, which includes quite a bit of interest to "early republic" scholars. It is about half of the text of The Culprit Fay and other Poems (1835?). I have printed all the shorter works, excluding "Culprit Fay". Let me know if you want (or don't want) to see "Culprit Fay".
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TO A FRIEND.
"You damn me with faint praise."
YES, faint was my applause and cold my praise,
Though soul was glowing in each polished line;
But nobler subjects claim the poet's lays,
A brighter glory waits a muse like thine.
Let amorous fools in love-sick measure pine;
Let Strangford whimper on, in fancied pain,
And leave to Moore his rose leaves and his vine;
Be thine the task a higher crown to gain,
The envied wreath that decks the patriot's holy strain.
Yet not in proud triumphal song alone,
Or martial ode, or sad sepulchral dirge,
There needs no voice to make our glories known;
There needs no voice the warrior's soul to urge
To tread the bounds of nature's stormy verge;
Columbia still shall win the battle's prize;
But be it thine to bid her mind emerge
To strike her harp, until its soul arise
From the neglected shade, where low in dust it lies.
Are there no scenes to touch the poet's soul?
No deeds of arms to wake the lordly strain?
Shall Hudson's billows unregarded roll?
Has Warren fought, Montgomery died in vain?
Shame! that while every mountain stream and plain
Hath theme for truth's proud voice or fancy's wand,
No native bard the patriot harp hath ta'en,
But left to minstrels of a foreign strand
To sing the beauteous scenes of nature's loveliest land.
Oh! for a seat on Appalachia's brow,
That I might scan the glorious prospect round,
Wild waving woods, and rolling floods below,
Smooth level glades and fields with grain embrown'd,
High heaving hills, with tufted forests crown'd,
Rearing their tall tops to the heaven's blue dome,
And emerald isles, like banners green unwound,
Floating along the lake, while round them roam
Bright helms of billowy blue and plumes of dancing foam.
'Tis true no fairies haunt our verdant meads,
No grinning imps deform our blazing hearth;
Beneath the kelpie's fang no traveller bleeds,
Nor gory vampyre taints our holy earth,
Nor spectres stalk to frighten harmless mirth,
Nor tortured demon howls adown the gale;
Fair reason checks these monsters in their birth.
Yet have we lay of love and horrid tale
Would dim the manliest eye and make the bravest pale.
Where is the stony eye that hath not shed
Compassion's heart-drops o'er the sweet Mc Rea?
Through midnight's wilds by savage bandits led,
"Her heart is sad - her love is far away!"
Elate that lover waits the promised day
When he shall clasp his blooming bride again -
Shine on, sweet visions! dreams of rapture, play!
Soon the cold corse of her he loved in vain
Shall blight his withered heart and fire his frenzied brain.
Romantic Wyoming! could none be found
Of all that rove thy Eden groves among,
To wake a native harp's untutored sound,
And give thy tale of wo the voice of song?
Oh! if description's cold and nerveless tongue
From stranger harps such hallowed strains could call,
How doubly sweet the descant wild had rung,
From one who, lingering round thy ruined wall,
Had plucked thy mourning flowers and wept thy timeless fall.
The Huron chief escaped from foemen nigh,
His frail bark launches on Niagara's tides,
"Pride in his port, defiance in his eye,"
Singing his song of death the warrior glides;
In vain they yell along the river sides,
In vain the arrow from its sheaf is torn,
Calm to his doom the willing victim rides,
And, till adown the roaring torrent borne,
Mocks them with gesture proud, and laughs their rage to scorn.
But if the charms of daisied hill and vale,
And rolling flood, and towering rock sublime,
If warrior deed or peasant's lowly tale
Of love or wo should fail to wake the rhyme,
If to the wildest heights of song you climb,
(Tho' some who know you less, might cry, beware!)
Onward! I say - your strains shall conquer time;
Give your bright genius wing, and hope to share
Imagination's worlds - the ocean, earth, and air.
Arouse, my friend - let vivid fancy soar,
Look with creative eye on nature's face,
Bid airy sprites in wild Niagara roar,
And view in every field a fairy race.
Spur thy good Pacolet to speed apace,
And spread a train of nymphs on every shore;
Or if thy muse would woo a ruder grace,
The Indian's evil Manitou's explore,
And rear the wondrous tale of legendary lore.
Away! to Susquehannah's utmost springs,
Where, throned in mountain mist, Areouski reigns,
Shrouding in lurid clouds his plumeless wings,
And sternly sorrowing o'er his tribes remains;
His was the arm, like comet ere it wanes
That tore the streamy lightnings from the skies,
And smote the mammoth of the southern plains;
Wild with dismay the Creek affrighted flies,
While in triumphant pride Kanawa's eagles rise.
Or westward far, where dark Miami wends,
Seek that fair spot as yet to fame unknown;
Where, when the vesper dew of heaven descends,
Soft music breathes in many a melting tone,
At times so sadly sweet it seems the moan
Of some poor Ariel penanced in the rock;
Anon a louder burst - a scream! a groan!
And now amid the tempest's reeling shock,
Gibber, and shriek, and wail - and fiend-like laugh and mock.
Or climb the Pallisado's lofty brows,
Were dark Omana waged the war of hell,
Till, waked to wrath, the mighty spirit rose
And pent the demons in their prison cell;
Full on their head the uprooted mountain fell,
Enclosing all within its horrid womb
Straight from the teeming earth the waters swell,
And pillared rocks arise in cheerless gloom
Around the drear abode - their last eternal tomb!
Be these your future themes - no more resign
The soul of song to laud your lady's eyes;
Go! kneel a worshipper at nature's shrine!
For you her fields are green, and fair her skies!
For you her rivers flow, her hills arise!
And will you scorn them all, to pour forth tame
And heartless lays of feigned or fancied sighs?
Still will you cloud the muse? nor blush for shame
To cast away renown, and hide your head from fame?
EXTRACTS FROM LEON. AN UNFINISHED POEM.
IT is a summer evening, calm and fair,
A warm, yet freshening glow is in the air;
Along its bank, the cool stream wanders slow,
Like parting friends that linger as they go.
The willows, as its waters meekly glide,
Bend their dishevelled tresses to the tide,
And seem to give it, with a moaning sigh,
A farewell touch of tearful sympathy.
Each dusky copse is clad in darkest green:
A blackening mass, just edged with silver sheen
From yon clear moon, who in her glassy face
Seems to reflect the risings of the place.
For on her still, pale orb, the eye may see
Dim spots of shadowy brown, like distant tree
Or far-off hillocks on a moonlight lea.
The stars have lit in heaven their lamps of gold,
The viewless dew falls lightly on the wold,
The gentle air, that softly sweeps the leaves,
A strain of faint, unearthly music weaves;
As when the harp of heaven remotely plays,
Or cygnet's wail - or song of sorrowing fays
That float amid the moonshine glimmerings pale,
On wings of woven air in some enchanted vale.
It is an eve that drops a heavenly balm,
To lull the feelings to a sober calm,
To bid wild passion's fiery flush depart;
And smooth the troubled waters of the heart;
To give a tranquil fixedness to grief,
A cherished gloom, that wishes not relief.
Torn is that heart, and bitter are its throes,
That cannot feel on such a night, repose;
And yet one breast there is that breathes this air,
An eye that wanders o'er the prospect fair,
That sees yon placid moon, and the pure sky
Of mild, unclouded blue; and still that eye
Is thrown in restless vacancy around,
Or cast, in gloomy trance, on the cold ground;
And still, that breast with maddening passion burns,
And hatred, love, and sorrow, rule by turns.
A lovely figure! and in happier hour,
When pleasure laugh'd abroad from hall and bower,
The general eye had deem'd her smiling face
The brightest jewel in the courtly place:
So glossy is her hair's ensabled wreath,
So glowing warm the eye that burns beneath
With so much graceful sweetness of address,
And such a form of rounded slenderness;
Ah! where is he on whom these beauties shine,
But deems a spotless soul inhabits such a shrine?
And yet a keen observer might espy
Strange passions lurking in her deep black eye,
And in the lines of her fine lip, a soul
That in its every feeling spurned control.
They passed unnoted - who will stop to trace
A sullying spot on beauty's sparkling face?
And no one deemed, amid her glances sweet,
Hers was a bosom of impetuous heat;
A heart too wildly in its joys elate,
Formed but to madly love - or madly hate;
A spirit of strong throbs, and steadfast will;
To doat, detest, to die for, or to kill;
Which, like the Arab chief, would fiercely dare
To stab the heart she might no longer share;
And yet so tender, if he loved again,
Would die to save his breast one moment's pain.
But he who cast his gaze upon her now,
And read the traces written on her brow,
Had scarce believed hers was that form of light
That beamed like fabled wonder on the sight;
Her raven hair hung down in loosen'd tress
Before her wan cheek's pallid ghastliness;
And, thro' its thick locks, showed the deadly white,
Like marble glimpses of a tomb, at night.
In fixed and horrid musings now she stands,
Her eyes now bent to earth, and her cold hands,
Prest to her heart, now wildly thrown on high,
They wander o'er her brow - and now a sigh
Breaks deep and full - and, more composedly,
She half exclaims - "No! no! - it cannot be;
"He loves not, never loved - not even when
"He pressed my wedded hand - I knew it then;
"And yet - fool that I was - I saw he strove
"In vain to kindle pity into love.
"But Florence! she so loved - a sister too!
"My earliest, dearest playmate - one who grew
"Upon my very heart - to rend it so!
"His falsehood I could bear - but hers! ah! no.
"She is not false - I feel she loves me yet,
"And if my boding bosom could forget
"Its wild imaginings, with what sweet pain
"I'd clasp my Florence to my breast again."
With that came many a thought of days gone by,
Remembered joys of mirthful infancy;
And youth's gay frolic, and the short-lived flow
Of showering tears, in childhood's fleeting wo,
And life's maturer friendship - and the sense
Of heart-warm, open, fearless confidence;
All these came thronging with a tender call,
And her own Florence mingled with them all.
And softened feelings rose amid her pain,
While from her eyes, the clouds, melted in gentle rain.
A hectic pleasure flushed her faded face;
It fled - and deeper paleness took its place;
Then a cold shudder thrill'd her - and, at last,
Her lip a smile of bitter sarcasm cast,
As if she scorned herself, that she could be
A moment lulled by that sweet sophistry;
For in that little minute memory's sting
Gave word and look, sigh, gesture - every thing,
To bid these dear delusive phantoms fly,
And fix her fears in dreadful certainty.
It traced the very progress of their love,
From the first meeting in the locust grove;
When from the chase Leon came bounding there,
Backing his courser with a noble air;
His brown cheek flushed with healthful exercise,
And his warm spirits leaping in his eyes;
It told how lovely looked her sister then,
To long-lost friends, and home just come again;
How on her cheek the tears of meeting lay,
That tear which only feeling hearts can pay;
While the quick pleasure glistened in her eye,
Like clouds and sunshine in an April sky;
And then it told, as their acquaintance grew,
How close the unseen bonds of union drew
Their souls together, and how pleased they were
The same blythe pastimes and delights to share;
How the same chord in each at once would strike,
Their taste, their wishes, and their joys alike.
All this was innocent, but soon there came
Blushes and starts of consciousness and shame;
That, when she entered, upon either cheek
The hasty blood in guilty red would speak
Of something that should not be known - and still
Sighs half suppressed seemed struggling with the will.
It told how oft at eve was Leon gone
In moody wandering to the wood alone;
And in the night, how many a broken dream
Of bliss, or terror, seemed to shake his frame.
How Florence too, in long abstracted fit
Of soul-wrapt musing, for whole hours would sit;
Nor even the power of music, friend, or book,
Could chase her deep forgetfulness of look;
And how, when questioned - with an indrawn sigh,
In vague and far-off phrase, she made reply,
And smiled and struggled to be gay and free,
And then relapsed in dreaming reverie.
How when of Leon she was forced to speak,
Unbidden crimson mantled in her cheek;
And when he entered, how her eye would swim,
And strive to look on every one but him;
Yet, by unconscious fascination led,
In quick short glance each moment tow'rds him fled.
How he, too, seemed to shun her speech and gaze,
And yet he always lingered where she was;
Though nothing in his aspect or his air
Told that he knew she was in presence there;
But an appearance of constrained distress,
And a dull tongue of moveless silentness,
And a down drooping eye of gloom and sadness,
Oh! how unlike his former face of gladness.
"'Tis plain! too plain! and I am lost," she cried;
And in that thought her last good feeling died.
That thought of hopeless sorrow seemed to dart
A thousand stings at once into her heart;
But a strong effort quelled it, and she gave
The next to hatred, vengeance, and the grave.
Her face was calmly stern, and but a glare
Within her eyes - there was no feature there
That told what lashing fiends her inmates were;
Within - there was no thought to bid her swerve
From her intent - but every strained nerve
Was settled and bent up with terrible force,
To some deep deed, far, far beyond remorse;
No glimpse of mercy's light her purpose crost,
Love, nature, pity, in its depths were lost;
Or lent an added fury to the ire
That seared her soul with unconsuming fire;
All that was dear in the wide earth was gone,
She loved but two, and these she doted on
With passionate ardour - and the close strong press
Of woman's heart-cored, clinging tenderness;
These links were torn, and now she stood alone,
Bereft of all, her husband, sister - gone!
Ah! who can tell that ne'er has known such fate,
What wild and dreadful strength it gives to hate?
What had she left? Revenge! Revenge! was there;
He crushed remorse and wrestled down despair:
Held his red torch to memory's page, and threw
A bloody stain on every line she drew;
She felt dark pleasure with her frenzy blend,
And hugged him to her heart, and called him friend.
When sorrowing clouds the face of heaven deform,
And hope's bright star sets darkly in the storm,
Around us ghastly shapes and phantoms swim,
And all beyond is formless, vague, and dim,
Or life's cold barren path before us lies,
A wild and weary waste of tears and sighs;
From the lorn heart each sweetening solace gone,
Abandoned, friendless, withered, lost, and lone;
And when with keener pangs we bleed to know
That hands beloved have struck the deepest blow;
That friends we deemed most true, and held most dear,
Have stretched the pall of death o'er pleasure's bier;
Repaid our trusting faith with serpent guile,
Cursed with a kiss, and stabbed beneath a smile;
What then remains for souls of tender mould?
One last and silent refuge, calm and cold -
A resting place for misery's gentle slave;
Hearts break but once, no wrongs can reach the grave.
Rest ye, mild spirits of afflicted worth!
Sweet is your slumber in the quiet earth;
And soon the voice of heaven shall bid you rise
To meet rewarding smiles in yonder skies.
But where, for solace, shall the bosom turn
For death too strong - for tears - too proudly stern?
When shall the lulling dews of peace descend
On hearts that cannot break and will not bend?
Ah! never, never - they are doomed to feel
Pains that no balm of heaven or earth can heal;
To live in groans, and yield their parting breath
Without a joy in life - or hope in death.
Yet, for a while, one living hope remains,
That nerves each fibre and the soul sustains;
One desperate hope, whose agonizing throes
Are bitterer far than all the worst of woes;
A hope of crime and horrors, wild and strange
As demon thoughts - that hope is thine, Revenge!
'Twas this that gave, oh! Ellinor, to thee
A strength to bear thy matchless misery:
Though the hot blood ran boiling in her brain,
And rolled a tide of fire through every vein,
Though many a rushing voice of blighted bliss
Struck on her mental ears, like adders' hiss;
That hope gave gloomy fierceness to her eye,
Dash'd down the tear, repress'd the unloading sigh;
Fixed her wan quivering lip, and steeled her breast
To crush the hearts that robbed her own of rest.
She wound her way within a heavy shade
Of arching boughs, in broad-spread leaves arrayed;
Which, clustering close and thick, shut out the light,
And tinged with black the shadowy robe of night;
Save here and there a melancholy spark
Of flickering moonshine glimmered through the dark,
Cheerless and dim, as when upon a pall,
Through suffering tears, the looks of sorrow fall;
But opening farther on, on either side
A wider space the severing trees divide;
And longer gleams upon the pathway meet,
And the soft grass is wet beneath her feet.
And now emerging from the darksome shade,
She pressed the silken carpet of the glade.
Beyond the green, within its western close,
A little vine-hung, leafy arbor rose,
Where the pale lustre of the moony flood
Dimm'd the vermillion'd woodbine's scarlet bud;
And glancing through the foliage fluttering round,
In tiny circles gemm'd the freckled ground.
Beside the porch, beneath the friendly screen
Of two tall trees, a mossy bank was seen;
And all around, amid the silvery dew,
The wild-wood pansy rear'd her petals blue;
And gold cups and the meadow cowslip red,
Upon the evening air their odours shed.
Unheeded all the grove's deep gloom had been,
Unseen the moonlight brightness of the green;
In vain the stream's blue burnish met her eye,
Lovely its wave, but pass'd unnoticed by:
The airs of heaven had breath'd around her brow
Their cooling sighs - she felt them not - but now
That lonely bower appeared, and with a start
Convulsive shudders thrill'd her throbbing heart.
For there, in days, alas! for ever gone,
When love's young torch with beams of rapture shone,
When she had felt her heart's impassioned swell,
And almost deem'd her Leon loved as well;
There had she sat, beneath the evening skies,
Felt his warm kiss and heard his murmur'd sighs;
Hung on his breast, caressing and carest,
Her husband smiled, and Ellinor was blest.
And when his injured country's rights to shield,
Blazed his red banner on the battle field,
There had she lingered in the shadows dim,
And sat till morning watch and thought of him;
And wept to think that she might not be there,
His toils, his dangers, and his wounds to share.
And when the foe had bowed beneath his brand,
And to his home he led his conquering band,
There she first caught his long-expected face,
And sprung to smile and weep in his embrace.
These scenes of bliss across her memory fled,
Like lights that haunt the chambers of the dead,
She saw the bower, and read the image there
Of joys that had been, and of woes that were;
She clench'd her hand in agony, and cast
A glance of tears upon it as she past,
A look of weeping sorrow - 'twas the last!
She check'd the gush of feeling, turned her face,
And faster sped along her hurried pace.
No longer now from Leon's lips were heard
The sigh of bliss - the rapture breathing word;
No longer now upon his features dwelt
The glance that sweetly thrills - the looks that melt;
No speaking gaze of fond attachment told,
But all was dull and gloomy, sad and cold.
Yet he was kind, or laboured to be kind,
And strove to hide the workings of his mind;
And cloak'd his heart, to soothe his wife's distress,
Under a mask of tender gentleness.
It was in vain - for ah! how light and frail
To love's keen eye is falsehood's gilded veil.
Sweet winning words may for a time beguile,
Professions lull, and oaths deceive a while;
But soon the heart, in vague suspicion tost,
Must feel a void unfilled, a something lost;
Something scarce heeded, and unprized till gone,
Felt while unseen, and, tho' unnoticed, known:
A hidden witchery, a nameless charm,
Too fine for actions and for words too warm;
That passing all the worthless forms of art,
Eludes the sense, and only woos the heart:
A hallowed spell, by fond affection wove,
The mute, but matchless eloquence of love!
* * * *
Oh! there were times, when to my heart there came
All that the soul can feel, or fancy frame;
The summer party in the open air,
When sunny eyes and cordial hearts were there;
Where light came sparkling thro' the greenwood eaves,
Like mirthful eyes that laugh upon the leaves;
Where every bush and tree in all the scene,
In wind-kiss'd wavings shake their wings of green,
And all the objects round about dispense
Reviving freshness to the awakened sense;
The golden corslet of the humble bee,
The antic kid that frolics round the lea;
Or purple lance-flies circling round the place,
On their light shards of green, an airy race;
Or squirrel glancing from the nut-wood shade
An arch black eye, half pleas'd and half afraid;
Or bird quick darting through the foliage dim,
Or perched and twittering on the tendril slim;
Or poised in ether sailing slowly on,
With plumes that change and glisten in the sun,
Like rainbows fading into mist - and then,
On the bright cloud renewed and changed again;
Or soaring upward, while his full sweet throat
Pours clear and strong a pleasure-speaking note;
And sings in nature's language wild and free,
His song of praise for light and liberty.
And when within, with poetry and song,
Music and books led the glad hours along;
Worlds of the visioned minstrel, fancy-wove,
Tales of old time, of chivalry and love;
Or converse calm, or wit-shafts sprinkled round,
Like beams from gems, too light and fine to wound;
With spirits sparkling as the morning's sun,
Light as the dancing wave he smiles upon,
Like his own course - alas! too soon to know
Bright suns may set in storms, and gay hearts sink in wo.
ROAR, raging torrent! and thou, mighty river,
Pour thy white foam on the valley below;
Frown, ye dark mountains! and shadow for ever
The deep rocky bed where the wild rapids flow.
The green sunny glade, and the smooth flowing fountain,
Brighten the home of the coward and slave;
The flood and the forest, the rock and the mountain,
Rear on their bosoms the free and the brave.
Nurslings of nature, I mark your bold bearing,
Pride in each aspect and strength in each form,
Hearts of warm impulse, and souls of high daring,
Born in the battle and rear'd in the storm.
The red levin flash and the thunder's dread rattle,
The rock-riven wave and the war trumpet's breath,
The din of the tempest, the yell of the battle,
Nerve your steeled bosoms to danger and death.
High on the brow of the Alps' snowy towers
The mountain Swiss measures his rock-breasted moors,
O'er his lone cottage the avalanche lowers,
Round its rude portal the spring-torrent pours.
Sweet is his sleep amid peril and danger,
Warm is his greeting to kindred and friends,
Open his hand to the poor and the stranger,
Stern on his foeman his sabre descends.
Lo! where the tempest the dark waters sunder
Slumbers the sailor boy, reckless and brave,
Warm'd by the lighting and lulled by the thunder,
Fann'd by the whirlwind and rock'd on the wave;
Wildly the winter wind howls round his pillow,
Cold on his bosom the spray showers fall;
Creaks the strained mast at the rush of the billow,
Peaceful he slumbers, regardless of all.
Mark how the cheek of the warrior flushes,
As the battle drum beats and the war torches glare;
Like a blast of the north to the onset he rushes,
And his wide-waving falchion gleams brightly in air.
Around him the death-shot of foemen are flying,
At his feet friends and comrades are yielding their breath;
He strikes to the groans of the wounded and dying,
But the war cry he strikes with is, 'conquest or death!'
Then pour thy broad wave like a flood from the heavens,
Each son that thou rearest, in the battle's wild shock,
When the death-speaking note of the trumpet is given,
Will charge like thy torrent or stand like thy rock.
Let his roof be the cloud and the rock be his pillow,
Let him stride the rough mountain, or toss on the foam,
He will strike fast and well on the field or the billow,
In triumph and glory, for God and his home!
OH! go to sleep, my baby dear,
And I will hold thee on my knee;
Thy mother's in her winding sheet,
And thou art all that's left to me.
My hairs are white with grief and age,
I've borne the weight of every ill,
And I would lay me with my child,
But thou art left to love me still.
Should thy false father see thy face,
The tears would fill his cruel e'e,
But he has scorned thy mother's wo,
And he shall never look on thee:
But I will rear thee up alone,
And with me thou shalt aye remain;
For thou wilt have thy mother's smile,
And I shall see my child again.
OH the tear is in my eye, and my heart it is breaking,
Thou hast fled from me, Connor, and left me forsaken;
Bright and warm was our morning, but soon has it faded,
For I gave thee a true heart, and thou hast betrayed it.
Thy footsteps I followed in darkness and danger,
From the home of my love to the land of the stranger;
Thou wert mine through the tempest, the blight, and the burning;
Could I think thou wouldst change when the morn was returning.
Yet peace to thy heart, though from mine it must sever,
May she love thee as I loved, alone and for ever;
I may weep for thy loss, but my faith is unshaken,
And the heart thou hast widowed will bless thee in breaking.
WRITTEN IN A LADY'S ALBUM.
GRANT me, I cried, some spell of art,
To turn with all a lover's care,
That spotless page, my Eva's heart,
And write my burning wishes there.
But Love, by faithless Laia taught
How frail is woman's holiest vow,
Look'd down, while grace attempered thought
Sate serious on his baby brow.
"Go! blot her album," cried the sage,
"There none but bards a place may claim;
But woman's heart's a worthless page,
Where every fool may write his name."
Until by time or fate decayed,
That line and leaf shall never part;
Ah! who can tell how soon shall fade
The lines of love from woman's heart.
LINES TO A LADY, ON HEARING HER SING "CUSHLAMACHREE."
YES! heaven protect thee, thou gem of the ocean;
Dear land of my sires, though distant thy shores;
Ere my heart cease to love thee, its latest emotion,
The last dying throbs of its pulse must be o'er.
And dark were the bosom, and cold and unfeeling,
That tamely could listen unmoved at the call,
When woman, the warm soul of melody stealing,
Laments for her country and sighs o'er its fall.
Sing on, gentle warbler, the tear-drop appearing
Shall fall for the woes of the queen of the sea;
And the spirit that breathes in the harp of green Erin,
Descending, shall hail thee her "Cushlamachree."
LINES WRITTEN ON LEAVING NEW ROCHELLE.
WHENE'ER thy wandering footstep bends
Its pathway to the Hermit tree,
Among its cordial band of friends,
Sweet Mary! wilt thou number me?
Though all too few the hours have roll'd
That saw the stranger linger here,
In memory's volume let them hold
One little spot to friendship dear.
I oft have thought how sweet 'twould be
To steal the bird of Eden's art;
And leave behind a trace of me
On every kind and friendly heart,
And like the breeze in fragrance rolled,
To gather as I wander by,
From every soul of kindred mould,
Some touch of cordial sympathy.
'Tis the best charm in life's dull dream,
To feel that yet there linger here
Bright eyes that look with fond esteem,
And feeling hearts that hold me dear.
SEE through yon cloud that rolls in wrath,
One little star benignant peep,
To light along their trackless path
The wanderers of the stormy deep.
And thus, oh Hope! thy lovely form
In sorrow's gloomy night shall be
The sun that looks through cloud and storm
Upon a dark and moonless sea.
When heaven is all serene and fair,
Full many a brighter gem we meet;
'Tis when the tempest hovers there,
Thy beam is most divinely sweet.
The rainbow, when the sun declines,
Like faithless friend will disappear;
Thy light, dear star! more brightly shines
When all is wail and weeping here.
And though Aurora's stealing beam
May wake a morning of delight,
'Tis only thy consoling beam
Will smile amid affliction's night.
TUSCARA! thou art lovely now,
Thy woods, that frown'd in sullen strength
Like plumage on a giant's brow,
Have bowed their massy pride at length.
The rustling maize is green around,
The sheep is in the Congar's bed;
And clear the ploughman's whistlings sound
Where war-whoop's pealed o'er mangled dead.
Fair cots around thy breast are set,
Like pearls upon a coronet;
And in Aluga's vale below
The gilded grain is moving slow
Like yellow moonlight on the sea,
Where waves are swelling peacefully;
As beauty's breast, when quiet dreams
Come tranquilly and gently by;
When all she loves and hopes for seems
To float in smiles before her eye.
And hast thou lost the grandeur rude
That made me breathless, when at first
Upon my infant sight you burst,
The monarch of the solitude?
No; there is yet thy turret rock,
The watch-tower of the skies, the lair
Of Indian Gods, who, in the shock
Of bursting thunders, slumbered there;
And trim thy bosom is arrayed
In labour's green and glittering vest,
And yet thy forest locks of shade
Shake stormy on that turret crest.
Still hast thou left the rocks, the floods,
And nature is the loveliest then,
When first amid her caves and woods
She feels the busy tread of men;
When every tree, and bush, and flower,
Springs wildly in its native grace;
Ere art exerts her boasted power,
That brightened only to deface.
Yes! thou art lovelier now than ever;
How sweet 'twould be, when all the air
In moonlight swims, along thy river
To couch upon the grass, and hear
Niagara's everlasting voice,
Far in the deep blue west away;
That dreaming and poetic noise
We mark not in the glare of day,
Oh! how unlike its torrent-cry,
When o'er the brink the tide is driven,
As if the vast and sheeted sky
In thunder fell from heaven.
Were I but there, the daylight fled,
With that smooth air, the stream, the sky,
And lying on that minstrel bed
Of nature's own embroidery
With those long tearful willows o'er me,
That weeping fount, that solemn light,
With scenes of sighing tales before me,
And one green, maiden grave in sight;
How mournfully the strain would rise
Of that true maid, whose fate can yet
Draw rainy tears from stubborn eyes;
From lids that ne'er before were wet.
She lies not here, but that green grave
Is sacred from the plough - and flowers,
Snow-drops, and valley-lilies, wave
Amid the grass; and other showers
Than those of heaven have fallen there.
WHEN that eye of light shall in darkness fall,
And thy bosom be shrouded in death's cold pall,
When the bloom of that rich red lip shall fade,
And thy head on its pillow of dust be laid;
Oh! then thy spirit shall see how true
Are the holy vows I have breathed to you;
My form shall moulder thy grave beside,
And in the blue heavens I'll seek my bride.
Then we'll tell, as we tread yon azure sphere,
Of the woes we have known while lingering here;
And our spirits shall joy that, their pilgrimage o'er,
They have met in the heavens to sever no more.
DAY gradual fades, in evening gray,
Its last faint beam hath fled,
And sinks the sun's declining ray
In ocean's wavy bed.
So o'er the loves and joys of youth
Thy waves, Indifference, roll;
So mantles round our days of truth
That death-pool of the soul.
Spreads o'er the heavens the shadowy night
Her dim and shapeless form,
So human pleasures, frail and light,
Are lost in passion's storm.
So fades the sunshine of the breast,
So passion's dreamings fall,
So friendship's fervours sink to rest,
Oblivion shrouds them all.
A BEAM upon the myrtle fell
From dewy evening's purest sky,
'Twas like the glance I love so well,
Dear Eva, from thy moonlight eye.
I looked around the summer grove,
On every tree its lustre shone;
For all had felt that look of love
The silly myrtle deemed its own.
Eva! behold thine image there,
As fair, as false thy glances fall;
But who the worthless smile would share
That sheds its light alike on all.
TO A LADY WITH A WITHERED VIOLET.
THOUGH fate upon this faded flower
His withering hand has laid,
Its odour'd breath defies his power,
Its sweets are undecayed.
And thus, although thy warbled strains
No longer wildly thrill,
The memory of the song remains,
Its soul is with me still.
I SAT me down upon a green bank-side,
Skirting the smooth edge of a gentle river,
Whose waters seemed unwillingly to glide,
Like parting friends who linger while they sever;
Enforced to go, yet seeming still unready,
Backward they wind their way in many a wistful eddy.
Gray o'er my head the yellow-vested willow
Ruffled its hoary top in the fresh breezes,
Glancing in light, like spray on a green billow,
Or the fine frost-work which young winter freezes;
When first his power in infant pastime trying,
Congeals sad autumn's tears on the dead branches lying.
From rocks around hung the loose ivy dangling,
And in the clefts sumach of liveliest green,
Bright ising-stars the little beach was spangling,
The gold-cup sorrel from his gauzy screen
Shone like a fairy crown, enchased and beaded,
Left on some morn, when light flashed in their eyes unheeded.
The hum-bird shook his sun-touched wings around,
The bluefinch caroll'd in the still retreat;
The antic squirrel capered on the ground
Where lichens made a carpet for his feet:
Through the transparent waves, the ruddy minkle
Shot up in glimmering sparks his red fin's tiny twinkle.
There were dark cedars with loose mossy tresses,
White powdered dog-trees, and stiff hollies flaunting
Gaudy as rustics in their May-day dresses,
Blue pelloret from purple leaves upslanting
A modest gaze, like eyes of a young maiden
Shining beneath dropt lids the evening of her wedding.
The breeze fresh springing from the lips of morn,
Kissing the leaves, and sighing so to lose 'em,
The winding of the merry locust's horn,
The glad spring gushing from the rock's bare bosom:
Sweet sights, sweet sounds, all sights, all sounds excelling,
Oh! 'twas a ravishing spot formed for a poet's dwelling.
And did I leave thy loveliness, to stand
Again in the dull world of earthly blindness?
Pained with the pressure of unfriendly hands,
Sick of smooth looks, agued with icy kindness?
Left I for this thy shades, were none intrude,
To prison wandering thought and mar sweet solitude?
Yet I will look upon thy face again,
My own romantic Bronx, and it will be
A face more pleasant than the face of men.
Thy waves are old companions, I shall see
A well-remembered form in each old tree,
And hear a voice long loved in thy wild minstrelsy.
'Tis not the beam of her bright blue eye,
Nor the smile of her lip of rosy dye,
Nor the dark brown wreaths of her glossy hair,
Nor her changing cheek, so rich and rare.
Oh! these are the sweets of a fairy dream,
The changing hues of an April sky.
They fade like dew in the morning beam,
Or the passing zephyr's odour'd sigh.
'Tis a dearer spell that bids me kneel,
'Tis the heart to love, and the soul to feel:
'Tis the mind of light, and the spirit free,
And the bosom that heaves alone for me.
Oh! these are the sweets that kindly stay
From youth's gay morning to age's night;
When beauty's rainbow tints decay,
Love's torch still burns with a holy light.
Soon will the bloom of the fairest fade,
And love will droop in the cheerless shade,
Or if tears should fall on his wing of joy,
It will hasten the flight of the laughing boy.
But oh! the light of the constant soul
Nor time can darken nor sorrow dim;
Though wo may weep in life's mingled bowl,
Love still shall hover around its brim.
ONE happy year has fled, Sall,
Since you were all my own,
The leaves have felt the autumn blight,
The wintry storm has blown.
We heeded not the cold blast,
Nor the winter's icy air;
For we found our climate in the heart,
And it was summer there.
The summer's sun is bright, Sall,
The skies are pure in hue;
But clouds will sometimes sadden them,
And dim their lovely blue;
And clouds may come to us, Sall,
But sure they will not stay;
For there's a spell in fond hearts
To chase their gloom away.
In sickness and in sorrow
Thine eyes were on me still,
And there was comfort in each glance
To charm the sense of ill.
And were they absent now, Sall,
I'd seek my bed of pain,
And bless each pang that gave me back
Those looks of love again.
Oh, pleasant is the welcome kiss,
When day's dull round is o'er,
And sweet the music of the step
That meets me at the door.
Though worldly cares may visit us,
I reck not when they fall,
While I have thy kind lips, my Sall,
To smile away them all.
THE AMERICAN FLAG.
WHEN Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night,
And set the stars of glory there.
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
The milky baldric of the skies,
And striped its pure celestial white,
With streakings of the morning light;
Then from his mansion in the sun
She called her eagle bearer down,
And gave into his mighty hand,
The symbol of her chosen land.
Majestic monarch of the cloud,
Who rear'st aloft thy regal form,
To hear the tempest trumpings loud
And see the lightning lances driven,
When strive the warriors of the storm,
And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven,
Child of the sun! to thee 'tis given
To guard the banner of the free,
To hover in the sulphur smoke,
To ward away the battle stroke,
And bid its blendings shine afar,
Like rainbows on the cloud of war,
The harbingers of victory!
Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly,
The sign of hope and triumph high,
When speaks the signal trumpet tone,
And the long line comes gleaming on.
Ere yet the life-blood, warm and wet,
Has dimm'd the glistening bayonet,
Each soldier eye shall brightly turn
To where thy sky-born glories burn;
And as his springing steps advance,
Catch war and vengeance from the glance.
And when the cannon-mouthings loud
Heave in wild wreaths the battle shroud,
And gory sabres rise and fall
Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall;
Then shall thy meteor glances glow,
And cowering foes shall shrink beneath
Each gallant arm that strikes below
That lovely messenger of death.
Flag of the seas! on ocean wave
Thy stars shall glitter o'er the brave;
When death, careering on the gale,
Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail,
And frighted waves rush wildly back
Before the broadside's reeling rack,
Each dying wanderer of the sea
Shall look at once to heaven and thee,
And smile to see thy splendours fly
In triumph o'er his closing eye.
Flag of the free heart's hope and home!
By angel hands to valour given;
The stars have lit the welkin dome,
And all thy hues were born in heaven.
For ever float that standard sheet!
Where breathes the foe but falls before us,
With Freedom's soil beneath our feet,
And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us?