N. W. (Nathaniel Wheeler) Coffin.

America, an ode; and other poems online

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Ever following in thy train,
Now o'er green and flowery meads,

Hoary hill, and verdant plain,
Through dim aisles of shadowy pines,
Whose high tops the warm winds kiss,
Into whispery sounds of bliss.
Spirit-fed with charmed words,
And the melody of birds.



THE DREAM ANGEL. 47

Form etherial, soft and fair,

Did'st thou leave thy native sphere

In the glowing fields above,

Touched with sympathy and love,
For this wayward, mortal state,

Mindful of that distant time,

Ere thy spirit soared sublime.
And trembling, knocked at heaven's gate ; —

When, through changeful night and day.
Thou did'st seek thine erring way,
Whelmed in doubts, and hopes, and fears,
Less often knowing smiles than tears ?
If such holy feeling bring
Down to earth thine angel wing,
With a glory so intense,
To the spiritual sense,
Then, my soul, no longer soil
Thy bright robes, in dust and toil ; —
Pleasure and Ambition spurn.
To thy guardian spirit turn,



48 THE DREAM ANGEL.

She shall lead thee all thy days,
Through fair scenes and pleasant ways,
Free from mortal care, and strife,
To the shining goal of life,
Floating ever in thine eye.
With a never-ceasing beauty.
Blending love, and hope, and duty.



^



49



ON THE BIRTH OE AN INEANT.



A LITTLE babe is let into the world,
Out of the deep and kindly heart of God,
Whose every pulse's high, mysterious beat,
Warms into life some happy form of being.
Thus art thou come, in pleasant month of May,
Sweet bud of beauty, pure as nature's self,
In her blest time, when in soft showers

dissolved
Her fields, and vineyards, and far-stretching

plains



M:



50 THE BIRTH OF AN INFANT.

Put on their flowing drapery of green.

And fill with odours the mild breath of spring.

Bright natal day, for one so fair as thou ; —
The smiling skies, tinged with the setting

sun's
Celestial hues, seemed bending down to earth
To fold the spring-child in their fond embrace,
With the same feeling of thy mother's joy,
When from her body, a man-child was born, —
And thou, the first time, on her beating breast
Drew the sweet breath of an outworld repose ;
The small birds in the budding greenwoods

sang.
And silver-voiced streams, in their fair course
Murmured sweet carols to the infant spring.

The self-same breath, that poured into thy soul
The subtle essence of immortal life.
Tempered the rude winds to its feeble germ,



THE BIRTH OF AN INFANT. 51

And bade all spirits minister to it,
Into the earth a genial heat infused,
Making its gloomy face to smile again
With renovated being, and the woods,
So long condemned to barren nakedness.
Once more to wear their livelier suits, and hide
Beneath their shades the roaming flocks and

herds ;
Unbound the streams, to win their limpid

way
Through vales and meadows with fresh ver-
dure clad.
Rejoicing in new birth, and showered on all,
In quickening dews, on atmosphere of love.

With opening flowers shall thy young life

1 expand ;

Each day shall mark some brighter beam of

thought,
Disclosed to heaven and us in thy sweet face ;



52 THE BIRTH OF AN INFANT.

So shall the spring-child wander by thy side,
New charms unfolding, as she moves along.
And she shall lead thee gently by the hand,
Through all the changes of the fruitful year.
Oh ! may thy life, like hers, be fair and true.
Its fruits, like hers, with radiant glory crowned.



53



BUNKER HILL



SONNET



I STAND alone upon the field of fame,

Where once, in proud array, my fathers

stood :
Beneath me sleeps pale Mystic's glassy
flood,
Above me watch the unwearied stars, the

same

5*



54 B U N K E R H I L L .

As when oppression with her armies came,
Death's iron allies in her vengeful hand,
Belching deep thunders ; while her burning
brand

Lit up thy summit in the cannon's flame ;

Mother of hills, mild freedom's hallowed fane,
Long shalt thou live, the matchless theme

of story.
The field of battle, and the field of glory.

Upon thy soil, where patriot heroes fought,

I love to muse in retrospective thought.



55



A PICTUEE



SONNET



'T IS eventime ; lo ! where yon sun declines,
Its last beams streaming over hill and vale.

From the deep shade of yonder breezy pines,
A lowly cot peeps through its leafy veil ;

The woodbine clustereth on its snow-white
wall ;
In greenest verdure, the wild ivy clings
About the portico, then upward flings

Its wreathing arms, around the chimney tall ,•



5G APICTURE.

See where the lambs sport on the sloping lea,
Now bathing in the streamlet running by,

Or coursing the cool glades with silent glee.
While on the green the lazy shepherds lie.

Gladdening the moments, as they speed along,

With some wild story, or a sylvan song.



57



ON A LADY.



What though her virtues, all unknown to

fame,
No sculptor's art in classic lines proclaim.
Still may affection's humble muse commend
The zealous Christian, and the faithful friend ;
With feelings warm, benevolence sincere,
A generous pity for affliction's tear,
The even tenor of a blameless life.
Unstained by sin, secure from worldly strife.



58 ON A LADY.

What though her course, in paths obscurely

traced,
No fortune gilded and no honors graced,
Her worth its perfect recompense has found,
In brighter fields, beyond life's narrow bound ;
Above her grave, though nameless and alone,
Her virtues rise, a monument of stone.



59



EVENING,



SONNET.



Now the hushed wind of summer evening
pours
Its silvery whisper on my listening ear,
Lingering among these broad old trees that
rear
Their shadowy tops along the bending shores.



60 EVENING.

Bright river, where thy glowing volume roars,
Save whose wild tones of laughter, and

delight,
No other sounds disturb the silent night ;
But hark ! I catch the sound of dipping oars,
And now sweet music cleaves the dewy air,
From the deep valley comes the swelling
tone,
The lute's mild breath the willing breezes
bear.
And to mine ear the boatman's song is
blown ;
Soothing my spirit in its mood of care.

And bringing peace, where its light wing
had flown.



61



EDWARD'S GRAVE



Let no proud monument arise,
To point me where my Edward lies ;
But may some humble yew tree bend
Its shadows o'er my sleeping friend,
Distilling there, a pleasing sadness ;
And may his turf be green, and fair,
And vocal the surrounding air,
With notes of birds, and sounds of glad-
ness ;

6



62 Edward's grave.

A simple stone shall bear his name,
In graceful characters imprest,
How few his years, and yet how blest,

Without a word, or deed to blame ;

So shall the rest, his ashes find,
Suit well the gentle temper of his mind.



63



DECEMBEK.



Merriest month of all the year,
Month of Christmas thou art here ;
With clear breath and sparkling brow,
In thy pleasant robe of snow,
Whit'ning every vale and mountain,
Sealing every liquid fountain ;
Wind of winter, though thou blowest,
To the highest, and the lowest, —
Merry month, thy face is fair, —
Full of joy, and free of care.



64



VIRTUE.



The fame of modest virtue lives
When its frail vestments die ;

By all revered, it still survives,
When kings forgotten lie.

Beside its glorious renown.

What were a monarch's jewelled crown, —
What were its honors high ;

Above them all, through clouds and fears

It shines, the beacon-light of years.



05



HYMN FOR THE SABBATH.



Father ! now we bow before thee,
Where thy holy altars are ;

Let our swelling hearts adore thee,
Grateful, for thy ceaseless care :

Father, hear us, though unworthy,
Hear, O ! hear, our humble prayer.



66 HYMN FOR THE SABBATH.

May the soft, the pure emotion,
Kindled in each beating breast,

Warm our spirit's cold devotion,
Raise our souls by sin opprest ;

Father, stay the world's commotion,
Smile upon this day of rest.

Now the organ's notes are swelling.
Mingling with our grateful song ;

Every gloomy doubt dispelling, —
Let each heart the strains prolong ;

Father, make thy constant dwelling
In our heart, upon our tongue.

Here, may every heart confessing
All its weight of grief and care.

Make this day of thine a blessing,
Sanctify this hour of prayer ;

Father, vain were our addressing
If thou shouldst not meet us here.



67



THE PIOUS DEAD,



How sweet the slumber of the dead ;
How cahn their rest, how soft their bed,
Who fall asleep in Jesus' arms.
And murmur not at death's alarms : —
Their souls embalmed are upward borne.
For them, it \vere but sin to mourn.



68 THE PIOUS DEAD.

Their bodies pillowed in the dust,
Unmarked by honor's storied bust.
Shall gather to their couch of sleep,
Above their hallowed forms to weep
The few that loved them, while they trod,
The footstool of their father God.

Though fame refuse their names to sing.
Nor there her crowning laurels bring,
Yet love, with pious hand shall twine
Of freshest flowers, a wreath divine,
To bloom above the sacred spot.
Still cherished, though by fame forgot.



69



STANZAS



Oh ! come not in my sacred hours,
Vain dreams of melody and mirth,

Luring my thoughts to love's green bowers,
And the fond images of earth.

I spurn ye hence ; and on the wing
Of Fancy, would my spirit soar

To the blue heaven where purely spring
Bright visions of an Eden shore.



70 STANZAS.

There lives not in this world of ours,
That which the soul may call its own ;

To-day, our path among the flowers

Love cheers, with melting eye and tone ;

To-morrow comes the wintry blast,

And the green hopes of youth are flown ;

Those we have loved sleep in the past,
And we are left to sigh alone.

Then come not in my sacred hours.
And leave my chastened heart awhile ;

Now the deep shade of twilight lowers,
And the glad stars above me smile.

The untainted thought shall wander free,
To brighter lands, where, ever green.

Its palmy groves long summers see,
And winter's cold hath never been.



71



THE INWARD VOICE.



I HEAR a voice within my soul,

That voice to me is speaking ;
Beware ! Beware ! life's treacherous shoal,
It lies between thee and the goal.

The pleasant goal thou 'rt seeking ;
I hear the murmur of the waves,



72 THE INWARD VOICE.

That break upon its sands ;
I see a thousand yawning graves,
From each, a voice commands ;
Beware ! Beware !
O ! do not dare
Life's dark, and treacherous sands.



Thy spirit in the sunny land

Of hope, now careless straying,
Bright pleasures lead thee by the hand.
Through balmy shades, by zephyrs fanned,

Among the valleys playing ;
Thou hear'st the rushing of the streams.

Along the verdant plains.
Thou see'st the gold and silver beams.

Dance o'er the ripened grains.
And to thine ear.
The wind-notes bear

Their sadly pleasing strains.



THE INWARD VOICE. 73

Now in thine hour of trusting faith,

Strong, questionless, and pure,
Beware ! the rushing tempest's scath,
Its voice, in muttering thunder saith,

Beware ! the dazzUng hue ;
It shines beyond the shifting sands.

That break the stormy sea ;
And in its blaze, are ghastly hands.

Outstretching now for thee ,•
Oh ! lift thine arm.
Dissolve the charm,

And set thy spirit free !



74



SIR ROBERT'S TRANCE,



Sir Robert was a gallant Knight,
As e'er bestrode a gallant steed ;

As ever buckled armor bright,

As ever mingled in the fight,

Or brake a good lance at his need.

Sir Robert had a Knightly trance,

'T was in the battle's deadliest heat ;
When heedless of the foes advance.
Sir Robert leaned upon his lance,
And slumbered in his saddle seat.



SIR Robert's trance. 75

Before him rose in wild array

A boding vision of the past,
The bloody conflict of that day, —
The nameless Knight, in armor grey, —

The deep and solemn bugle blast.



The spectre of his castle hall.

The mail-clad vision of his sleep ;
The Saxon's blood upon the wall,
A maiden's hearse, and sable pall,
The prisoner of his dungeon keep.



Now stretching far as eye could reach.

Were lands arrayed in comely green ;
And there, a shelving sandy beach.
Beyond, the sea, and here a breach,
A lofty castle tower between.



76 SIR Robert's trance.

From out those castle walls, for aye
The warder blows a single blast ;
The drawbridge falls, the Knight in grey,
Well mounted on a steed of bay,
Spurs over gallantly and fast.



Sir Robert stirs him in his trance,

Ho ! who hath ope'd my castle keep ;
He calls ; when, lo ! in quick advance,
The Knight in grey, with couched lance,
Comes sweeping down the rocky steep.



Now by 'r lady, false Sir Knight,
I hold that we are fairly met ,•
You deemed me dead, but by the light
Of gentle Saxon eyes, the might
Of my brave father's lance, this night
The greensward earth thy blood shall
wet.



SIR Robert's trance. 77

Thou holds't my castle, and my lands.
The boon my fathers proudly won ;

A maiden's blood is on thy hand ;

My father died by thy command,
He died, but left a Saxon son.



The grey Knight spoke, then forth his
lance

High poised in air, with deadly aim ;
Back reined Sir Robert, for his trance
Was broke, and he must break a lance,

Or foully stain a gallant name.



Ha ! now the rattling clang of steel,
The ringing sound of shivering lance, —

Sir Robert falls, a mighty deal

Of the battle axe's deadly heel.

Has dimmed the Norman's eagle glance.



78 SIR Robert's trance.

I know thee now, Sir Blond the Brave ;

Thus faint with blood, Sir Robert cries,
I doomed thy Sire an early grave,
Thy Saxon brother was my slave.

Fair Margaret, alas ! and dies.



79



AUTUMN



I SEE thee in the withering tree,

Whose yellow leaves lie strewed beneath ;
And hark ! low voices seem to be

Mingling sad music with thy breath.
Thy chilling winds around me steal,

And o'er the hills in silence creep,
Making the woodlands toss and reel,

And the free waters gush and leap.



80 AUTUMN.

I love thee, Autumn, for the sad

And pensive gloom that shadows thee ;
Though in the storm and whirlwind clad,

Thou bringest pleasant thoughts to me.
I think on days of pleasure past,

When love the blissful moments sped,
Of joys too sweet, too frail to last,

And hopes that moulder with the dead.



The green fields and the verdant grove,

The fruits and flowers that gaily bloom,
Like all the good in life, we love.

Regretted, find an early tomb. —
So the false hopes that cheat the soul,

The world's unmeaning smile and tear,
The passions' proud and fierce control,

Disdain's cold breath, and slanders' ear



AUTUMN. 81

Are gone, when life's chill autumn comes,

And languor on the spirit lies ;
When death's pale presence in the gloom

Of midnight, stalks before our eyes. —
Yet, though life's brief summer 's past ;

There lives a hope that looks above,
Far from this world of change, at last

To find a changeless home of love.



OSCEOLA



Bear him gently to his bed,
With sound of trump and martial tread,
For he hath oft, and freely bled.
In many a deadly fight, —
When gathered in their might,
Our legions from afar,
In battle's cloudy car.
Rolled on the tide of war ; —



OSCEOLA. 83

Then loudly rang the redmen's mingled shout,
And high above them all.
The chieftain's shrilly call,
Urged on his warriors to the charge, the rout,
'^ Strike ye ! boldly now my braves !
Let the morass be their graves.
See they bend, they turn, they fly.
Ours the field, and victory."

Though no proud banners o'er them wave,

To marshal on the fearless brave,
No bugle's note.
Or cannon's throat.

Their wild and stormy music gave,

To nerve the arm, and prompt the blow, —
Once in the presence of the foe.

The fire that in their bosoms burned,

With unrelenting fury yearned
For vengeance on the race.

Whose cursed arts of fraud and gain,



84 OSCEOLA.

Had driven them from their fair domain



Their homes, the resting-place
Of mighty chiefs and gifted sires.
Their altars and their counsel fires,

And left no mark or trace,
To point them where their fathers rest ;
Whose souls at morn and even,
Went trustingly to heaven,
In dreams of fairer hunting grounds among
the blest.

Bear him to his lonely bed.
With sound of trump and martial tread,
Yet gently, for ye bear the dead,
And broken spirit of the brave,
To fill a strange unhonored grave ;
But still unconquered, save by death.
The warrior drew his latest breath,
Encircled round by prison walls.
Unlike the free and airy halls.



OSCEOLA. 85

Where oft his light and bounding feet,
Sprang forth the daring foe to meet.
Where stately oak, and toppling pine,
Their lofty limbs together twine,
A high, o'erarching canopy,
Pit shelter for the tameless free.

Though captive in a dungeon keep,
His spirit sighed once more to stand,
Surrounded by his faithful band.

Where range the foe in column deep ;

Once more in blood his hands to steep,
Avenge the Indian's wrong,
Then mingle with the throng,
Borne upward to the spirit-land,

From battle-field; where thickly spread,

Repose the pale face and the red,
The dying, and the dead.



86



LAMENT OF THE EXILE.



I AM not old, yet oh ! believe me,

Man's age is measured not by years ;
A wasting worm within has brought me,

Thus early, to life's goal in tears.
The friends that fortune lent could leave me

When darksome clouds were gathering
near ;
I am not old, yet oh ! believe me,

My heart is cold, my hope is sere.



Li\MENT OF THE EXILE. 87

The home I knew in merry childhood,

My own loved mountain-glens, so high.
The rolling stream, and echoing wild-Avood,

All fade before my dimmed eye.
A mother's arms may ne'er receive me,

Her exiled boy to memory dear ;
I am not old, yet oh ! believe me.

My heart is cold, my hope is sere.

My father land, the land that bore me,

I love her with a patriot's love ;
Yet from her homes, a tyrant tore me,

And doomed my weary feet to rove
Here where sad memory doth grieve me.

With dreams that melt like sorrow's tear ;
I am not old, yet oh ! believe me,

My heart is cold, my hope is sere.



88



BOAT SONG



Now we are on the gladsome sea,

The sea, the home of the fearless brave ;
And merrily timing to notes of glee,

Our oars we plash in its crystal wave.
Then pull, boys, steadily pull away,

And over the sparkling foam we fly,
Now bathed in showers of silver spray.

Or on the proud wave sported high :
Oh ! there 's no place for the bold and free,
Like the ever bright and bounding sea.



BOATSONG. 89

Now we glide o'er the waters clear,

Swift as the eagle's tireless wing,
Far out on the deep we '11 boldly steer.

Where the ocean winds their wild notes
sing.
Then pull, boys, steadily pull away.

Our good boat leaps at the spring of the
oar,
And gaily she breaks her billowy way,

As fast behind her fades the shore ;
Oh ! there 's no place for the bold and free.
Like the ever bright and bounding sea.



90



SONG.



When the light of day is fading.

Forget not me ;
When the nightly shades are speeding,

Forget not me ;
When the world is deeply sleeping,
And the gentle streams are weeping,
When soft dreams on thee are creeping,

Forget not me !



SONG. 91

When thy lovely form is kneelingj

Forget not me ;
When at eve thy prayer is stealing,

Forget not me ;
When thine eye is fondly beaming,
And the burning tears are streaming,
When thy soul of heaven is dreaming,

Forget not me.



93



AN EVENING HYMN.



Now Evening's sombre shades return,
Its balmy hours are all my own ;

And from the world my feet shall turn.
Into some quiet glade alone.

Far from the haunts of vulgar men,
In paths by humbler spirits trod,

I '11 seek the lonely wood or glen,
Unseen, save by the eye of God.



AN EVENING HYMN. 93

I love the hours of fading light,

For then my spirit spreads her wing,

And bends unchecked, her heavenward flight,
Above all low imagining.

The flowers that deck the grassy way.
Their tinted leaves in silence close.

The birds' wild carol dies away,
While man and nature seek repose.

Oh ! nature, in thine hour of rest,

What pleasing charms thy features wear,

To calm the wild, tumultuous breast,
And smooth the ruflied brow of care.

The low, sweet winds that fill thine ear
With the pure incense of their praise.

Are to thy tender soul more dear.

Than noblest songs that man can raise.



94



THE SPANISH EXILE'S SONG



J. KNOW a land, a sunny land,

Of fruitful vine and golden river ;

And there a hall, whose portals stand
Upon the banks of Guadalquiver.

I know a bower, a shaded bower,

Where bright-plumed birds are singing
ever,

Encircled round with vine and flower,
Upon the banks of Guadalquiver.



THE SPANISH EXILE's SONG. 95

I know a spirit proud and high,

Though bound in chains he may not
sever ;
It is my father doomed to sigh,

Upon the banks of Guadalquiver.

I know the tear bedims his eye

For who shall now his land deliver.

Her spreading fields and vineyards high,
Upon the banks of Guadalquiver ?

1 know that in his ancient halls
The rout and revel soundeth ever.

The spoiler holds his castle walls,
Upon the banks of Guadalquiver.

Oh ! who will hear the minstrel boy.
The wanderer, sad and sighing ever,

To greet again those haunts of joy,
Upon the banks of Guadalquiver ?



96



THE BLIGHTED FLOWER

A BALLAD.



In a garden rude and lonely,
Grew a flower sweet and wild,

And on all who wandered thither,
Pleasantly it looked and smiled.

Old and young men of the village,
And bright maidens, came to gaze

Upon its heaven-tinted beauty.
Both to envy and to praise.



THE BLIGHTED FLOWER. 97

Wondering how this little flower,
Grew to be so bright and fair,

In a garden wild and lonely,
Without gentle nursing care.

For they thought not that its Maker,
Who hath many shining flowers.

Shed his genial rays upon it,
And his dew-distilling showers.

So it chanced, one summer's morning.

When its leaves were fully blown.
That a youthful stranger saw it.

Passing through the fields alone.

Quick he caught its sparkling beauty,
Oh ! sweet flower thou must be mine,

Into richer soil transplanted,

What new glory would be thine.

9



9S THE BLIGHTED FLOWER.

To his heart he warmly pressed it,
And his eyes they could but say,

'' I will come again to-morrow,"
So he passed upon his way.

Many morrows came without him,
And this flower, frail as fair,

Hopeless of his promised coming.
Drooped and withered in despair.

There it lay, cold and unlovely.
Stretched upon the mossy bed.

All its spirit-life departed.
All its glowing beauty fled.

Tearful maidens gathered round it.
Who had marked its quick decay.

In the freshness of its beauty
Melting, peacefully away.



THE E L I G TI T E 1) FLOWER. 99

Old men's hearts are soft and kindly,
And their tears could not be dried,

When they thought how fair it blossomed,
And how soon it drooped and died.

Down in yonder winding valley

Where the young grass thriftly grows,

Sleeps that sweet, lamented flower.
In its long and last repose.



AN EPISTLE TO



Was there ever maiden true ?
Tell me you that often woo,
Were you ever doomed to sigh
Maiden false or maiden shy ;
Hope's transparent, brimming cup,
Broken, while you raised it up
Trembling to your burning lip,
Ere the nectar you could sip,



AN EPISTLE TO . 101

While the hot blood's feverish sway,
Swept all sober sense away,
Tasking love's distorted eyes
With ten-thousand protean dyes ;
Dreams of love's Elysian joys,
Venus' shapes, and Cupid boys.

Passion's flame luxurious feeding ;
Dashed to earth the bowl of pleasure,
Wasting all its liquid treasure ?

Then what grief to joy succeeding,
Black despair and thoughts malign ;

If such fortune ere befell you,

My dear fellow, let me tell you
Such a hapless lot was mine.

My first love was Sally Wing,

Her true name less smooth and terse
Cluite ill-suits my trotting verse ;

She was all that poets sing ;
Graceful as the summer air,



102 AN EPISTLE TO



Robed in morning's golden beams ;

Born of spiritual dreams,
Beautiful as spirits are.

She had eyes of hazel hue

Ever moistening with the dew
Of a sympathetic soul,
Stirring in its secret goal.

Feelings generous and true.
Like a crystal fount, her face.
O'er which sunbeams sportive chase,

Mirrored all that soul within.

Free from shade of lurking sin,
Glowing with a warmth intense.
Full of strong intelligence.

Whosoever looked in.

Saw each love-provoking art.
Centred in that maiden's heart.

How that maid and I first met,
I have striven to forget,



AN EPISTLE TO . 103

When, is now of less concern,
Yet I owe it to my story,
'T was mid spring's fresh budding glory,


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Online LibraryN. W. (Nathaniel Wheeler) CoffinAmerica, an ode; and other poems → online text (page 2 of 3)