To this pure element I'll raise,
While breath endures, my notes of praise.
Whether, to fertilize the plains,
It soft descend in gentle rains,
Or rush forth gaily from the hills,
In torrents loud and gurgling rills,
Or flow 'mid sands of purest white,
Or shine o'er pebbles clean and bright,
Or through the verdant meadow creep,
Or swift from rock to rock it leap ;
Howe'er disguis'd by Nature's power,
In chrystal ice or snowy shower ;
Whether to open sight reveal 'd,
Or in the ambient air conceal'd ;
In misty vapor if it rest
Upon some lofty mountain's breast,
In clouds bedeck the welkin blue,
Or, heav'n-distill'd, descend in dew ;
In earth or sky, wherever found,
The praise of water I'll resound.
Of all the pure perennial springs
With which our native land is blest,
My mem'ry loves the Muse that sings
Of one fair fount above the rest.
He that would purer nectar drink
Than Hebe e'er pour'd out to Jove,
Must haste to Lehi's verdant brink,
And there, in sultry season, rove.
'Mid shades he shall a rock perceive
With bosom hollow'd to receive
A secret spring ; yet to the eye,
At first, 'twill seem all void and dry,
And not, until he draw more near,
Shall he observe a pool so clear,
So cool, so colorless and pure,
That even Bacchus 'twould allure
To leave his wine and favorite lass,
And cool his palate with a glass.
THE WATER DRINKER. 189
E'en Jove himself would give the nod,
And brand it liquor for a god.
Ye Nymphs and Naiads who preside
O'er chrystal founts and streams that glide
Throughout our land, dispensing wealth,
Imparting beauty, life and health,
Fain would I, in my verse prolong
The honors that to you belong ;
But I am caution'd by the Muse
One favorite from the rest to choose,
To whom our native city owes
The warmest eulogy that flows
From orator's or poet's lips ;
'Tis she who gay and sportive trips
O'er Croton's rude and rocky banks,*
With lighter foot and wilder pranks
Than woodland deer or mountain fawn
Upspringing at the break of dawn.
Crotona ! be thy honor'd name
The theme of never-dying fame !
* The movements of this river are such, that the country people call it
And be thou Naiad, Nymph, or Sprite,
Thy praise shall be my chief delight.
The Muse once saw her, in a frolic hour,
Disporting in a summer shower ;
From rock to rock, from ledge to ledge,
Bounding along her river's edge,
Laughing like a heedless child,
With looks as innocent and wild ;
And naught thrown o'er her graceful form
To shield it from the raging storm,
Save her own locks in many a fold,
That, dripping, look'd like molten gold.
With laugh suppress'd and half-clos'd eyes,
She now would to the dropping skies
Her face upturn and catch the rain
That rudely pelted her in vain ;
Of storm, nor wet was she afraid ;
For in her element she play'd.
With uprais'd arm and drooping hand,
She, ever and anon, would stand,
And watch the pearly drops descend
From ev*ry taper finger's end ;
THE WATER DRINKER.
Or smile to see the hail rebound
Light from her shoulder to the ground.
And when the sun, with fervid ray,
Had chas'd the wat'ry clouds away,
She gaily spread her golden hair,
And wav'd it in the drying air ;
Then o'er her temples graceful wound,
With many a ringlet flowing round.
And when the Muse she chanc'd to spy
Beholding her with laughing eye,
With rapid foot she touch'd the wave,
And, at the signal which she gave,
A wreathed mist the stream upsent,
With shining dew-drops all besprent,
That, like soft down with mingled pearls,
Enwrap'd her limbs and flowing curls.
And dancing spray, around her head,
Such brilliant rainbow colors shed,
That while in fitful mood they gleam'd,
A Urd of paradise she seem'd.
In conscious beauty's happiest mood,
A moment, she exulting stood ;
Then to the Muse she wav'd adieu,
And in her grotto vanish'd from the view.
Pure water ! thus if thou dost flow
With blessings to this world of woe ;
If such the powers that round thee throng,
Be thou my only drink, my only song !
SENT TO A YOUNG LADY, WITH A PAIR OF GLOVES.
Go envied glove, with anxious care,
From scorching suns and withering air,
Belinda's hand to guard.
And let no folds offend the sight ;
Nor let thy seams, perversely tight,
With hasty rents be marr'd.
Nor fear the fate that oft attends
On truest faith and long-tried friends
With shame to be displac'd.
194 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
You'll ne'er be own'd by menial hag ;
Nor e'er in form of button-bag
Or thumb-stall be disgrac'd.
Ere envious time shall bid thee rue
The loss of this thy spotless hue
That now excels the snow,
Some swain, who for Belinda sighs,
Shall bear thee off, a richer prize
Than monarchs could bestow.
By him, in triumph, thou'lt be borne,
And in his faithful bosom worn,
No ! never thence to part.
What earthly lot can thine excel ?
First on Belinda's hand to dwell,
Then, near a constant heart.
IN ANSWER TO A YOUNG LADY'S INVITATION TO MAKE ONE OF A PARTY OP
PLEASURE ON AN EXCURSION INTO THE COUNTRY.
MY ear still vibrates with thy sweet command ;
Still, tremulous, I hold thy parting hand ;
1 see thy smile still witching me away ;
Yet must this willing heart still disobey.
Yes, lovely tempter, yes, I must forego
A. transient bliss that leaves a lasting woe.
In shades I dwell where each severer Muse,
And thought, and silence, spread their pallid hues.
But when I bask beneath the melting rays
Of joyous rosy light that round thee plays,
At thought of these my solitary shades,
A chilling horror all my frame pervades.
The Graces that around thee lightly trip,
The Joys that laugh upon thy ruby lip,
The flutt'ring Loves that, watchful to beguile,
Direct thy glance and lurk beneath thy smile,
They mar my soul for contemplation's powers,
For learning's rugged paths and weary hours,
For deep research that strains the mental eye,
And daring thoughts that soar beyond the sky.
Glide on, sweet maid, in pleasure's gilded barque,
Still blithe and tuneful as the morning lark ;
Still let the melting music of thy tongue
Delight the old and captivate the young ;
Still, laughing, lead along the sportive train
Whose breasts can feel no deep-devouring pain
But Oh ! if e'er thou mark some gentle youth,
In whose fond breast dwell loyalty and truth,
Let not a conquest's momentary bliss
Tempt thee to trifle with a heart like this.
The breast which generous love and honor swell
Is sacred as the fane where Angels dwell :
The sacrilege that tempts its holy fire
Fails not to rouse a guardian Spirit's ire.
Go now, and may thy heaven-attemper'd mind,
Ere long, some pure congenial spirit find ;
Some swift etherial soul, that shall delight
To chase and take thee in thy wildest flight.
Nor let thy flights and frolics chase away
All thought of him who pours this parting lay ;
Whose bosom, mingled pains and tumults swell
While thus he bids farewell a sad farewell !
OCCASIONED BY THE FOLLOWING NOTICE, COPIED INTO THE NEW YORK
AMERICAN, FROM A BALTIMORE PAPER, DURING THE PREVALENCE
OF THE CHOLERA IN NEW YORK, IN THE SUMMER OF 1832.
"Died on Thursday last, at Hospital No. 3, Sister Mary Frances, one of
those Angels in human form, who are found, not in the abode of luxury, but in
all our hospitals, supplying the wants of, and ministering comfort and conso
lation to, the sick and the dying, regardless of personal danger, and rejecting
all temporal compensation.
" The deceased was found in the morning attending as usual to the patients
in the hospital, with the smile of peace and serenity on her countenance, she
sickened about 8 o'clock, and by 7 in the evening was a corpse."
SHE WAS ONE OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY.
YE sacred Sisters ; not for you, this strain :
You heed no minstrelsy of earth-strung lyre ;
The softest siren notes would sound in vain
To ears impatient for the heavenly choir.
THE SISTERS OF CHARITY.
But who that toils through life's rough devious way,
If some fair prospect open on his sight,
Seeks not his fellow wanderer's steps to stay,
And make them partners in his own delight ?
Turn then, all ye who, with indignant mind,
Behold the vileness of this mortal state ;
Where craft and guile on ev'ry hand you find,
With all the forms of selfishness and hate ;
Here let your misanthropic brow unbend,
And warmest feelings of the heart expand ;
For, if to earth some gleams of Heaven descend,
They sure must light upon this sacred band.
And ye who sport beneath the golden beams
That o'er youth's jocund morning shed their light ;
To whom the downward path of life still seems
Immeasurably distant from the sight ;
Oh ! think me not a censor cold and stern,
A frowning foe to all that's bright and gay,
If, for a moment, I would have you turn,
And see these Sisters tread their holy way.
I would not bid fierce superstition's power
Bear down your minds, in sullen gloom to grope :
I would not overcloud one radiant hour,
Nor crush one rising bud of youthful hope :
But stay awhile, nor all your moments waste
For joys inconstant as the vernal sky.
You here may deep, though silent pleasure taste,
Whose impress on the soul shall never die.
For how can earth present a goodlier scene,-
Or what can waken rapture more refin'd,
Than dauntless courage, silent and serene,
With maiden gentleness and love combin'd ?
Behold, in yon receptacle of wo,
Where victims of disease assembled lie,
That gliding form, with noiseless footstep go,
From couch to couch, her angel task to ply.
THE SISTERS OF CHARITY.
She dwells 'mid sounds and sights of pain and death ;
The feeble plaint, the involuntary cry,
The fierce convulsive throw, the fainting breath,
The heaving groan, the deep-drawn burning sigh.
Oh ! child of frolic, in whose giddy brain
Delusive Fancy's ever on the wing,
Think you this holy maid knows naught but pain ?
That in her path no lovely flowrets spring ?
Gay visions round your pillow nightly throng;
The morning ramble and the evening dance,
The rout, the feast, the soul-entrancing song,
The flatterer's whisper, and the lover's glance.
Around her couch, no brilliant phantoms play ;
No airy spectre of past pleasure flies :
But deeds of mercy which have mark'd the day
Give tranquil slumber to her tear-stain'd eyes.
They're precious gems, those tears that wet her cheek ;
Worth more than all the treasures earth can show.
The noblest language of the heart they speak ;
From high and holy ecstacy they flow.
Her feelings ye alone can understand
Whose deeds have wak'd the sufferer's grateful
Who've felt the pressure of the dying hand ;
Sweet recompense of all your pious care.
No sad nor strange reverse her pleasures dread ;
Of time and chance, they mock the strong control.
Her Heaven-aspiring virtues ever shed
A cloudless light upon her peaceful soul.
The baubles that command this world's esteem
No resting place within her mind can gain :
Like idle motes that cross the solar beam
They serve to make her spirit's source more plain.
Yes ! such this sacred band ; such peace is theirs ;
Unchang'd when days shine bright or tempests lower.
THE SISTERS OF CHARITY. 203
Through life they pass, untainted by its cares ;
When death draws near, they gladly hail his power.
And then, like birds that seek a better clime,
On swift untiring wing their spirits rise,
And gladly leave this turbid stream of time,
To take their homeward progress through the skies.
TO MY DAUGHTER,
ON HER MARRIAGE 1836.
FOR you, my Margaret dear, I have no art
To sing a jocund hymeneal strain :
What rises strong and deep within the heart
Must ever have some touch, at least, of pain.
Nor know I that the bird of merriest lay
Gives happiest omen in the bridal hour ;
That gaudy flowers, with brilliant tints and gay,
May best adorn the sacred nuptial bower.
TO MY DAUGHTER.
But think me not of mind morose and sad,
Where naught but sullen censure finds abode,
If, in the midst of voices blithe and glad,
I greet you with a song of graver mode.
The glow on pleasure's cheek, it is not this
That always tells where heartfelt joys appear ;
The hidden wellsprings of our purest bliss
Are oft betoken'd by the gushing tear.
I am not like the parent bird that tries
To lure its young-one from the fostering home ;
That gladly sees its new-fledg'd offspring rise
On outspread wing, in distant shades to roam :
Yet I were form'd in Nature's sternest mood,
Did not my inmost soul with you rejoice,
To see your lot amid the wise and good,
The gentlest friends, the husband of your choice.
Mysterious bond, that kindred souls unites!
Great law of nature hallowed from above !
206 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
Bless'd remnant oflost Eden's pure delights!
The sum of all our bliss connubial love !
Oh, holy flame ! seraphic influence mild !
Sweet incense, kindled by celestial ray !
For ever warm the bosom of my child,
And gently sooth her through life's rugged way !
And you, my child, while yet your life is strong,
While in the calm of peace your thoughts repose,
Prepare for ills that to our state belong,
And arm you to contend with numerous foes.
For many ills unseen beset us round,
And many foes within ourselves we raise.
What sudden checks in smoothest paths are found !
How few and fleeting are our golden days !
At Hymen's altar when we plight our truth,
For letter and for worse, we thoughtless say ;
We dream of only good ; the heart of youth
Drives ev'ry fear of distant ills away.
TO MY DAUGHTER.
Till death do part, how gaily we repeat
When joy and health are in their prime and strength
Life is a vista then whose borders meet ;
So endless, to our fancy, seems its length.
But oh ! how soon we pass this endless track,
That, like perspective art, deludes our view :
And, when we turn and on our path look back,
How short the distance ! and our steps how few !
Trust not the gilded mists and clouds that rise
Where flattering Hope and fickle Fancy reign ;
But turn from these, and seek with anxious eyes
The clear bright atmosphere of Truth's domain.
Ascend, full oft, her highest vantage ground,
And look beyond the circuit of this earth.
Review the things its narrow limits bound ;
And, with her guidance, learn to scan their worth.
Nor think that with relentless stern regard
She frowns on all our fleeting pleasures here.
Believe me, no true joys by her are marr'd,
But, in her light, more lovely they appear.
And now, while youth and health are in their bloom,
Why should you dread to look beyond this state ?
The traveller's pleasure knows no boding gloom
Because the charms of home his steps await.
Thus, like the compass, shall your tranquil soul,
With one wish'd haven steady in its view,
Though tempests rage and threat'ning billows roll,
Rest even-pois'd, and point for ever true.
TO THE MEMORY OF MISS SUSAN MOORE,* WRITTEN BY MY LATE WIFE.
FORGIVE the humble Muse that strives to raise
To thee, bless'd saint, her feeble voice of praise ;
That dares attempt thy worth to sing,
Who now, with sister Cherubims
And Angels, to the Almighty King
Dost ceaseless chant forth heavenly hymns.
* Susan Moore, daughter of the late Dr. William Moore, died in 1814.
She was a most lovely young creature; the delight of all who knew her.
She suffered so much pain during her last illness, that, shortly beforo her
death, she uttered the exclamation with which these lines conclude.
Oh ! that my strains were as my subject high !
Then would they equal those which swelPd the sky
When joyful angels quiring bore
Thy spirit to the realms of light,
Glad that the mournful hour was o'er
While yet it struggled for its flight.
For, as thy friends the bed of death stood nigh,
Attending seraphs heav'd the pitying sigh,
To think what tears, what griefs, must flow
From loss of such sweet innocence,
To think what pangs their breasts must know
Who mourn'd such matchless excellence.
For thou wast pure as is the transient snow
That falls as if its whiteness but to show ;
And fearful lest a longer stay
Its virgin purity should stain,
Dissolves beneath the fervid ray
That draws it up to Heaven again.
And yet, that last, that melancholy hour
Rais'd thee from earth to life, immortal flower !
ON THE DEATH OF A YOUNG LADY.
Oh ! how does even grief rejoice,
The tear dry in affliction's eye,
When memory gives thy parting voice
Exclaiming, " Oh ! how sweet to die ! "
THESE LINES WERE WRITTEN AFTER READING THE DEDICATION OF SOUTHEY's
"TALE OF PARAGUAY," THOUGH NEVER SENT TO HIM. THEY CON
TAIN NOTHING FICTITIOUS. 1832.
SOUTHEY, I love the magic of thy lyre,
That calms, at will, or sets the soul on fire ;
Whose changeful notes through ev'ry mode can stray,
From deep-toned horror to the sprighliest lay.
In Fancy's wilds with you I love to roam,
Where all things strange and monstrous make their home.
And when from wild imagination's dreams
You wake to holy or heroic themes,
My spirit owns the impulse of your strains ;
My circling blood flows freer through my veins.
Yet not amid these wonders of your art
I find the trembling key-note of my heart.
'Tis not the depth and strength of tone that bring
Responsive murmurs from a neighboring string.
Soft sympathetic sounds and tremors rise
Only from chords attun'd to harmonize.
'Tis when you pour the simple plaintive strain
That tells a fond bereaved parent's pain,
J Tis when you sing of dear ones gone to rest,
I feel each fibre vibrate in my breast.
Alas ! too well, bereavement's pangs I know ;
Too well, a parent's and a husband's woe.
To crown the numerous blessings of my life,
I had sweet children and a lovely wife.
All seem'd so firm, so ordered to endure,
That, fool ! I fancied all around secure.
Heav'n seem'd to smile ; Hope whisper'd to my heart,
These love-wrought ties shall never rudely part ;
But Time, with slow advance and gentle hand,
Shall loosen, one by one, each sacred band.
The old shall Jirst drop peaceful in the tomb,
And leave the young to Jill their vacant room.
214 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
Life's pleasures sliall not wither at a Now,
But quiet pass, with mild decay and slow.
The buoyant joys of youth, so bright and fair,
Like rainbow tints, shall mellow into air.
But sad reality has prov'd how vain
This faithless prospect of a dreaming brain.
Death's icy hand, within three fleeting years,
Has chang'd this scene of bliss to sighs and tears.
One lovely innocent was snatch'd away
A rose-bud, not half-open'd to the day
I saw my wife, then, to the grave descend,
Beloved of my heart, my bosom friend.
So interwoven were our joys, our pains,
That, as I weeping follow'd her remains,
I thought to tell her of the mournful scene
I could not realize the gulph between.
This was not all ; there was another blo\v
Reserv'd to put the finish to my woe.
A sweet endearing creature perish'd last,
In youth's first spring, all childhood's dangers past
Oh ! awful trial of religion's power,
To see a suffering innocent's last hour !
But mark me well I would not change one jot
Of Heaven's decrees, to meliorate my lot :
Farewell to earthly bliss, to all that's bright !
No thought rebels ; I know, I feel 'tis right.
Nor should I mourn as though of all bereft :
Some transient pleasures, here and there, are left ;
Some short-liv'd flowers that in the forest bloom,
And scatter fragrance in the settled gloom.
I look not round, and peevishly repine,
As though no other sorrow equall'd mine.
I boast no proud preeminence of pain
But oh ! these spectres that infest my brain !
My death-struck child, with nostrils breathing wide,
Turning in vain, for ease, from side to side ;
The fitful flush that lit her half-closed eye,
And burned her sunken cheek ; her plaintive cry ;
Her dying gasp ; and, as she sank to rest,
Her wither'd hands cross'd gently o'er her breast.
My dying wife's emaciated form,
So late, with youthful spirit fresh and warm.
The deep, but noiseless anguish of her mind
At leaving all she lov'd on earth behind.
216 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.
The silent tear that down her cheek would stray,
And wet the pillow where resign'd she lay.
Her stiffen'd limbs, all powerless and weak ;
Her clay-cold parting kiss ; her pale damp cheek ;
Her awful prayer for mercy, at the last,
Fainter and fainter, till her spirit pass'd
The image of the next lov'd sufferer too
Is ever, ever present to my view.
Her ceaseless cough her quick and panting breath,
With all the dreadful harbingers of death.
No anxious mother watching at her side,
To whisper consolation as she died.
Oh ! do not ask me why I thus complain
To you a stranger, far across the main
Bear with a bleeding heart that loves to tell
Its sorrows, and on all its pangs to dwell.
A strange relief the mourner's bosom knows
In clinging close and closer to its woes.
In unheard plaints it consolation finds
And weeps and murmurs to the heedless winds.