Clement Clarke Moore.

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This thought at least, they might le greater still.
Declaimers seldom for an answer wait ;
At most, but for a careless yes or no ;
Thus Heav'n is pleas'd, in mercy, to abate
What might have been the wretched list'ner's wo.
But Kate, in truth, unfeign'd attention paid ;
And scarce could she her merriment control,
While lurking smiles around her features play'd
And furtive glances toward her father stole.
Long did th' untiring speaker's voice resound




With Southey's wonders and Montgomery's charms ;
Till, sudden, she beheld, on glancing round,
Her patient list'ner lock'd in Morpheus' arms.

The angel look of sweet unsconcious Kate

Proclaim'd how little dream'd she to offend,

Or change to bitter wrath and vengeful hate

The seeming friendship of a seeming friend.

Her father could have burst with glee outright,

To see the fury of the damsel's eyes ;

For, long since, to his keen experienc'd sight,

She was a smiling vixen in disguise.

Yet strove he, for his daughter, peace to make j

Pleaded the engine's ceaseless weary stroke ;

How early she was call'd, that morn, to wake ;

And of her youth and inexperience spoke.

This, to a lady of a certain age,

Appear'd a sly premeditated blow ;

Away she turn'd, with inward glowing rage,

And parted from her friends, a bitter foe.


The morning mist that dims an op'ning rose
Imparts new beauty, ere it melts away.
And thus, our sleeper woke from soft repose
With features brighten'd and with looks more gay.

But keenest pleasure soon must loose its tone,
When that's the only end we have in view.
This, by our younger travellers was shown ;
Who now began to pant for somewhat new ;
To ask the distance they had still to go ;
At .what abode they were to pass the night ;
Their progress seem'd continually more slow ;
They wish'd that Albany would come in sight.

At length, the distant spires to view arise ;
And now the dreaded shoal awakes their fears.
The pilot, with firm hand and watchful eyes,
The vessel through the channel safely steers.

Fierce rose the strife, the tumult and the noise,
When first the steamer touch'd her destin'd shore.


On rush'd the hack-men and the baggage-boys.

The safety-valve sent forth its angry roar.

In terror and amaze the girls they stand.

The boys, confounded, scarce know where to turn ;

Impetuous, they at once would rush to land ;

But, self-possession Henry bid them learn,

And not, by eagerness, increase the strife.

And, as he calmly stood, pronounc'd this rule

" In all the troublous passages of life,

Pray for a spirit patient, firm, and cool."

And now, beneath a skillful driver's care,
We leave our friends to wind their tortuous way,
And seek a night's refreshment, to repair
Their strength and spirits, for another day.



FROM sleep profound our young folk op'd their eyes,
When first the warning bell sent forth its peal ;
And for a moment gazed, with that surprise
Which, waking far from home, we're wont to feel.
Anon, they heard their father bid them rise,
And, quick, make ready for their morning meal.
That o'er, they sprang their journey to pursue ;
First casting round their rooms a parting look :


For this last glance, if travellers tell what's true,
Saves many a straggling kerchief, cap, or book.

Now are the party on their way again,

Well stow'd, our Henry 'mid his sons and daughters,

And swiftly gliding in the railroad train

To Saratoga's fam'd health-giving waters.

Of all the joys that from our senses flow,

None are, perhaps, more exquisitely keen

Than those emotions which light spirits know

When entering first upon a rural scene.

The azure heav'n that calls our thoughts on high ;

The glorious light of summer shed around ;

The hills and vales that in the prospect lie ;

The cloud -form'd shadows flying o'er the ground ;

The cool untainted zephyr gently blowing ;

The shrubs and grass refresh'd by ev'ning showers ;

The sparkling streams along the valleys flowing ;

The trees wide spread, or cluster'd into bowers ;

While rapid motion, as the carriage flies,

Stirs up new life and spirit in the soul,



Just as the mantling foam and bubbles rise

In generous wine that's dash'd into the bowl ;

These, and unnumber'd other pure delights
With which the varied charms of Nature shine,
Give to the heart an impulse that excites
A joy that seems to have a touch divine.

But pleasure, soon or late, is dash'd with pain ;
For mists will hide the landscape from the eye ;
The clearest skies will gather clouds and rain ;
Cool winds will heated grow, and dust will fly.
Some of those pleasures, and these troubles too,
While on their way, our younger party felt.
The day wax'd warm ; they all impatient grew ;
No more on rural scenes their fancies dwelt ;
They long'd from crowded durance to get free,
And stretch at ease their cramp'd up limbs, once more ;
And though, at first, nought could exceed their glee,
At length, they fairly wish'd their journey o'er.


On, on, the engine, puffing, panting, went ;
Impatient, as it seem'd, the goal to reach ;
And, ever and anon, afar it sent
Its warning voice, with fearful goblin screech.
Away, as from a monster's jaws outspread,
Th' astonish'd beasts o'er hill and valley bound,
With eyes wild gleaming, from unwonted dread,
And, head and ears erect, they gaze around.

At length, their father bid his children cheer ;
For, at the rate they then were hurl'd along,
Their durance soon should end, as they were near
To Saratoga's idly busy throng.

Soon as arriv'd, like vultures on their prey,
The keen attendants on the baggage fell ;
And trunks and bags were quickly caught away,
And in the destin'd dwelling thrown pell-mell.
Then names were register'd, and rooms were shown,
And, for the dinner dress, arrangements made :
And, ere another rapid hour had flown,
By joyous hearts the summons was obey'd.


Life pass'd without some purpose kept in view

Were worse than death. The lonely pris'ner craves

Some painful task or labor to pursue ;

And, for relief, the fiercest danger braves.

How then could sons of pleasure chase away

From these gay scenes the horrors of ennui,

But for the three great epochs of the day,

The happy hours of Breakfast Dinner Tea ?

All then inhale fresh spirits and new life ;

E'en churls look pleasant ; wealth forgets its pride ;

The fiercest disputants forego their strife ;

Segars and Politics are thrown aside.

Yet, when we have no higher end and aim
Than pleasure, for the moment, as it flies,
It soon gives way to feelings cold and tame,
And, while we grasp it, languishes and dies.
One who pursues the same unvarying round
Of dinners, concerts, billiards, drives and dances,
Is like a squirrel cag'd, who, though he bound,
And whirl about his wheel, yet ne'er advances.


In all his children's pastimes Henry shar'd ;

For, to repress young spirits, he thought wrong ;

But, little, in his very heart, he car'd

For what engag'd the pleasure-hunting throng.

And o'er the young folk too the thought would steal,

That e'en to waltz at night, at noon to roam,

To drink the waters, taste the hurried meal,

Were not the the pure delights of their dear home.

The sounds of strife or wassail, in the night,

Or of departing guests, at dawn of day,

Would fill the boys with wrath, the girls with fright ;

And ofttimes chase their rest and sleep away.

At meals, some noisy pack their peace would mar ;

Who deem'd it to gentility a stain,

Though half-seas-o'er with brandy at the bar,

To call for other bev'rage than champaign.

But swift, away, away, the hours they flew ;
Those winged hours that go so strangely fast
When unaccustom'd objects meet the view ;
Yet seem of such unwonted length, when past.


When favoring skies and sunbeams cheer'd the day,
The mansion's inmates scatter'd far and wide,
The lakes to view, or in the fields to stray,
To hunt, to fish, to visit, drive, or ride.

Our party made the usual tour of jaunts.

They climb'd the hills, to view the vales below.

They sought for rude uncultivated haunts ;

Or stray'd among the woods where wild flowers grow.

The wonted casualties that travellers meet

Would cause perplexity, or fears excite ;

A drunken driver tottering in his seat ;

A sudden break-down, or way lost at night.

But when they came back safe and well at last,

And, after toil, enjoy'd refreshing rest,

They felt that all the troubles they had past

Gave to their pleasures still a keener zest.

'Twere wearisome of all the scenes to tell
That caus'd enraptur'd feelings to awake.
But we may venture, for a while, to dwell
Upon the beauties of that lovely lake


Whose pure wave drinks so deep heav'n's holy light,

It seems a sacred character to claim ;

And from religion's sacramental rite,

In days now long gone by, deriv'd its name. *

It seems call'd forth by magic to the eye,

With countless verdant islets scatter'd o'er ;

Its hills contrasting with the' azure sky,

And rising all romantic from the shore.

While speechless pleasure in their faces beam'd,

Kate and her sisters, from the winged boat,

Would in the crystal dip their hands, that seem'd

Like water-lilies on the wave to float.

When pelting rain or tempest threat'ning round
Enforc'd th' unwilling guests at home to stay,
They sought whate'er expedients could be found
To cheat the time and haste the weary day.
Recourse was had to writing or to books ;
To walking, lounging, singing, whistling, humming ;
To billiards and backgammon, rings and hooks ;
On hoarse pianos to incessant thrumming.

* Lake George was, by the French, called Le Lac du Sant Sacrement.




On such a day as this, a lively lass
Was playing songs and waltzes, and odd ends
Of fav'rite melodies, the time to pass,
Surrounded by a knot of sportive friends.
While playful mischief lurk'd in ev'ry eye,
With many a laugh or titter half supprest,
They slyly watch'd the figures passing by,
And look'd and whisper'd many a merry jest.

A stranger, of a quiet modest air,
Walked slowly round, or at a distance sat.
For him, no more did our gay party care
Than for a purring, chimney-corner cat.

Amid the medley, suddenly his ear
Perceiv'd, the notes of an uncommon strain.
He rose, and quietly approaching near,
Petition'd gently for the air again.
The player, courteously the strain renew'd,
Which she, from foreign voice, had learn'd by rote.
He, as she play'd it o'er, the theme pursued,
And prick'd it in his tablets, note for note ;



Then, at the instrument he took his seat,

And play'd the melody with graceful turn,

And taste so pure, and harmony so sweet,

As made th' astonish'd nymphs with blushes burn.

Charm'd by the pow'r of music's touching art,
With looks how chang'd the stranger now they view !
And him it well behoov'd to guard his heart,
Lest mischief-loving eyes should pierce it through.

They're of a compound strange, these fair young

creatures ;

Though made up, as 'twould seem, of fun and mirth,
And apes of fickle fashion's wildest features,
They can excel, when tried, in moral strength and


They're like the plaything children call a Witch ;
Made of a weight attach'd to somewhat light.
Howe'er you twist or twirl it, toss or twitch,
It has a saving power that brings it right.



'TwAS pleasant, in the ev'nings, to behold

The motley groups with which the mansion teem'd,

Of various nations form'd, both young and old,

That like to living panoramas seem'd ;

To view the waltzers whirling, two and two,

With foot and heart both lighter than a feather ;

While glancing dames watch'd, who and who,

In graceful coil, had wound themselves together.


There might be seen the planter from the South,

With touch of fire, but open, debonair ;

The merchant from the East, with firm-set mouth,

And dark inquiring eye, and look of care.

Gay Frenchmen too, in social pastimes skill'd,

With manners polish'd, and with lively faces ;

Young Englishmen, in Greek and Latin drill 'd,

More favor'd by the Muses than the Graces.

Italian counts and Spanish dons, all cold,

Sedate and grave ; but let them rouse with ire,

Like snow-clad mountains,' they'll be found to hold

The elements that feed volcanic fire.

And well-bred Germans too, of whom some say

They are a heavy, dull, Boeotian race ;

But, if the truth were told, as Frenchmen gay,

To solid lore, they join a Frenchman's grace.

And, now and then, might fall upon the ear

The voice of some conceited vulgar cit,

Who, while he would the well-bred man appear,

Mistakes low pleasantry for genuine wit.

Men of deep learning, or of sterling worth,

Were in the crowd conceal'd and to be sought ;


Just as the finer metals, deep in earth

Are mostly found, ere to the view they're brought.

Perchance some careless genius might be told

By flashes he unconscious threw around,

That seem'd like grains of sparkling virgin gold

Strewn by the hand of Nature o'er the ground.

Some tranquil minds were made to shine by dint

Of fools' attacks, that waken'd gen'rous ire ;

As steel elicits from the stricken flint

The sudden brilliance of its secret fire.

Fierce party-politicians too there were,

Who all their foes in Satan's colors paint ;

Those very foes who, when time serves, they'll swear

To be, each one, as pure as any saint.

Some few, who would philosophers be deem'd,
At what is sacred aim'd their heartless wit ;
Whose wanton sallies, to the pious, seem'd
The pale cold light which putrid things emit.
From such, our Henry never turn'd aside,
When aught they said was to his ear address'd j




But, by superior lore, abased their pride ;
Or, by his keen reproof, their levity repress'd.
He made them know and feel that, in his eyes,
The humblest pauper who could hope and pray,
With heart sincere, above this state to rise,
Was of a higher, nobler caste than they.

Some damsels, even when they did not quote,
Were heard to choose their phrases with such care,
That all seem'd like a book well learn'd by rote.
Henry enjoin'd his children to beware
Of seeking words and phrases grand and fine ;
And said, in language, ornament misplac'd,
Just as in dress, was wont to be a sign
Of badly tutor'd mind and vulgar taste.

There were some dainty dames of minds so pure,
Of sense so exquisite, and ears so chaste,
That all around them, soon or late, were sure,
By some unlucky word to be disgrac'd.
If e'er Kate chanc'd to mention leg or knee,
All seem'd with wounded modesty to glow.


Yet, in the midst of wildest mirth and glee,
Kate's mind was purer than the mountain snow.
And, while cold scornful smiles were seen around,
Henry would whisper, she had spoken well ;
And that true modesty was ever found
Between the prudish and the gross to dwell.

Dandies were lounging seen in the saloon,
With ev'ry item of their dress arrang'd
By rule ; and, ev'ry morn, and night, and noon,
That dress, to suit the time of day, was chang'd.
These exquisites might fancy to unbend
So far, as with some belle a waltz to walk ;
But, should they to an humbler dance descend,
Would like the statue in Don Juan stalk.
For why should they their toilet jeopardize ?
Uncurl a whisker, rumple a cravat,
Disturb a curl that on fair forehead lies ?
What dire misfortue could be worse than that ?

Fair forms, as light as sylphs of noiseless tread,
Imparted life and radiance to the scene;



Like brilliant flowerets o'er the meadow spread,
Or ev'ning fire-flies twinkling on the green.
But, though complexions might be found more fair,
Maidens more fit to shine at rout or ball,
And who'd be call'd of more distinguish' d air,
Our Kate was still the loveliest of them all.

Hers was so archly innocent a look,

Such pensiveness with gaiety combin'd,

As show'd a nature that at once partook

Of ev'ry various quality of mind.

When aught of pity mov'd her gentle heart,

There was a light, that seem'd not of this earth,

Beam'd from her eyes, and fail'd not to impart

To all she said or did a tenfold worth.

She, with her brother Charles, one sultry eve,

To seek refreshing breezes, chanc'd to stray.

A wand'ring pauper pray'd them to relieve

His want ; nor turn'd they from his prayer away.

They both were mov'd, for he was old and maim'd.

He thank'd our Charles ; but such the angel grace

With which Kate gave her alms, that he exclaim'd

" May God Almighty bless your kind sweet face ! "



BUT now autumnal airs began to blow ;
At morn and eve, the atmosphere was cold ;
The hours no longer seem'd on wings to go ;
The pleasures most approv'd grew stale and old.
Home ! home ! whose very name has magic power,
Became, each moment, dearer to each heart.
Of all their life, 'twould be the happiest hour,
When for that home they should again depart.



At length, quite wearied with the course they'd run,
It was arrang'd, if naught the plan should mar,
For all to rise before the morrow's sun,
And make them ready for the homeward car.

Bright roseate hues adorn'd the eastern skies
As Sol lit up the morn without a cloud.
Sleep quickly vanish'd from our party's eyes ;
The gathering bustle rose more strong and loud ;
For now toward home they soon should be away.
Each hand and tongue was busy as a bee ;
And, ere the ev'ning of another day,
They hop'd their wish'd-for home again to see.

'Twas one of these autumal days that shine,
Full oft, so glorious, on our favor'd land ;
When th' heavens and all the elements combine
To render Nature beautiful and bland.
There breath'd around a heav'nly influence
Creation look'd so smiling and so blest,
That sorrow's keenest pangs grew less intense,
And heaviest care with lighter burden prest.


All objects shone so lucid and so clear,
So sharp each outline on the deep-blue sky,
That what was distant seem'd to draw more near,
And ev'ry tint came radiant to the eye.
The foliage had exchang'd its summer green
For all the varied hues by Autumn shed.
No rustling breeze disturb'd the tranquil scene
That seem'd a picture to the view outspread.

If e'er we mortals feel unmingled bliss,
While through this world of care we roam,
'Tis in the hour, when, on a day like this,
We speed us, after absence long, for home.

Away they flew, those cars that seem design'd
With birds of swiftest strongest wing to race ;
And, as no more by former laws confin'd,
Seem, while they go, to mock at time and space.
With such delight our party's minds were fraught,
To think that homeward they were hurl'd again ;
Such pleasure 'twas to dwell upon the thought,
They almost wish'd the motion to restrain.


Just as we see a child delay to taste
Some ripe and tempting fruit 'tis wont to prize ;
Nor will it to the dainty pleasure haste ;
But still puts off the feast, and fondly eyes.

To fam'd Albania's dullness and its dust
We leave our party for another night,
The hours to sleep away, in hope and trust,
At home, next day, to find all well and right.

No need there was, at morn, for bell to chime,
Nor for the voice of Henry's early call.
They were afoot long ere the wonted time ;
Their things were pack'd, and they were ready all,
Ere long, our Henry, with his girls and boys
Were on the steamer's deck ; and one day more
Of pleasure, mix'd with bustle, heat and noise,
Brought back the travellers safely to their door,

And then it was a goodly sight, to see

The servants, old and young, all rushing out


Their faces beaming with such heart-felt glee !

And ev'ry tongue in motion ! Such a rout !

The watch-dog jumping with outrageous joy,

His paws outstretch'd upon his master's neck ;

Who had his utmost vigor to employ,

The creature's loving violence to check.

The favorite lap-dog leapt around the girls,

And would be seen and heard amid the throng :

He wagg'd his tail, and shook his silken curls,

And downright scolded that they staid so long.

And Csesar bustled round, with mouth agrin ;

A faithful heart his homely form beneath,

Distinguish'd from the rest by ebon skin

In shining contrast with his snow-white teeth.

Amid their joy, the young-folk felt surprise

That when they tried to speak, their lips were dumb.

Soft silent tears came gushing to their eyes ;

With pleasing pain their hearts were overcome.

When all were hous'd, and things arrang'd, at last,
And when they felt they were at home once more :



When they had risen from their light repast ;
And when their ev'ning orisons were o'er ;
Then, ere retiring to their welcome rest,
Kate to her father's cheek approach'd her lip,
And ask'd him, as he held her to his breast,
" Now, father, was it such a foolish trip ? "

" No," said our Henry, " not, if you're return'd

With health robust, and love of home renew'd ;

If to appreciate true worth you've learn'd,

And with due scorn have worthless folly view'd ;

If Nature's works have tended to inspire,

For what is beautiful and pure, a keener love ;

If, at their view, you felt a holy fire

Enwrap your heart, and call your thoughts above.

But, if this be the first step to the moon,

For which you seem'd so eager, in the Spring ;

If, henceforth, we're to sail in a balloon,

Or other craft of new-invented wing ;

If this, your first excursion do but tend

To render you unquiet, prone to roam,


To make your peace on what's abroad depend,

'Twere better far you ne'er had left your home.

And now, my darling rogue, to bed away,

Still to this sublunary state resign'd ;

And, whereso'er your lot, forever pray

That Heav'n may grant you a contented mind."




THIS semblance of your parent's time-worn face
Is but a sad bequest, my children dear !

Its youth and freshness gone, and in their place
The lines of care, the track of many a tear !

Amid life's wreck, we struggle to secure

Some floating fragment from oblivion's wave :

We pant for somewhat that may still endure,
And snatch at least a shadow from the grave.*



Poor, weak, and transient mortals ! why so vain
Of manly vigor or of beauty's bloom?

An empty shade for ages may remain

When we have moulder'd in the silent tomb.

But no ! it is not we who moulder there ;

We, of essential light that ever burns,
We take our way through untried fields of air,

When to the earth this earth-born frame returns.

And 'tis the glory of the master's art

Some radiance of this inward light to find ;

Some touch that to his canvass may impart
A breath, a sparkle of the immortal mind.

Alas ! the pencil's noblest power can show
But some faint shadow of a transient thought,

Some waken'd feeling's momentary glow,
Some swift impression in its passage caught.

Oh ! that the artist's pencil could portray
A father's inward bosom to your eyes ;


What hopes, and fears, and doubts perplex his way,
What aspirations for your welfare rise.

Then might this unsubstantial image prove,
When I am gone, a guardian of your youth,

A friend for ever urging you to move
In paths of honor, holiness, and truth.

Let fond imagination's power supply

The void that baffles all the painter's art ;

And when those mimic features meet your eye,
Then fancy that they speak a parent's heart.

Think that you still can trace within those eyes
The kindling of affection's fervid beam,

The searching glance that every fault espies,
The fond anticipation's pleasing dream.

Fancy those lips still utter sounds of praise,

Or kind reproof that checks each wayward will,

The warning voice, or precepts that may raise
Your thoughts above this treach'rous world of ill.



And thus shall Art attain her loftiest power ;

To noblest purpose shall her efforts tend :
Not the companion of an idle hour,

But Virtue's handmaid and Religion's friend.





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Online LibraryClement Clarke MoorePoems → online text (page 2 of 6)