Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Jamestown, an Elegy
By John Davis
 
Inscribed to Francis Emes, of Boston

O’ER Powhatan’s majestic flood
The orb of day descends the sky,
And, glimmering, lights the churchyard wood,
Where the first settlers mingled lie.
 
Now fainter sounds the shrilling call        5
Of locust from the oak afar,
And to the steeple’s ivied wall
The pigeon flutters through the air.
 
Pensive, I view the roofless wall
Where once the Atlantic fathers bent,        10
And, pealing, praised the Lord of all,
With incense from the bosom sent.
 
Still is the voice that worshipp’d God,
And dim the supplicating eye,
Cold is the hand, beneath the clod,        15
That begg’d down blessings from on high.
 
Here often mused, with brow sublime,
The gallant Smith, for arms renown’d,
Whose polish’d lance, in Turkey’s clime,
Threw horse and horseman to the ground.        20
 
And here oft roam’d the tawny maid
Whose bosom heaved at passion’s call;
For in the town, or savage glade,
Resistless love is lord of all.
 
Now o’er the settler’s unwept grave,        25
The night-bird makes his funeral moan,
And, rising from the tranquil wave,
The queen of night ascends her throne.
 
So still is now the lone churchyard,
That from the sea-worn, sandy ground,        30
The dapper elves afar are heard,
Footing their waving morrice round.
 
And here where Meditation dwells,
I seek the unprotected grave,
Where sleep within their narrow cells        35
The rovers o’er the Atlantic wave.
 
Death o’er the earth extends his hand
From tropic sun to polar snow;
And those who seek a foreign strand
Await alike the unerring blow.        40
 
Haply one lies beneath this turf,
Who hoped again to cross the deep,
But scarce escaped the Atlantic surf,
Death rock’d him in eternal sleep.
 
No friend to smooth the bed of pain,        45
No friend to watch his asking eye;
He breathed a wish beyond the main,
And gave to home his parting sigh.
 
A bard, perhaps, this cold clod hides,
Who oft beneath the cypress shade,        50
Where to the flood the streamlet glides,
With harp bewail’d a distant maid.
 
The sylvan sisters hail’d the strain,
Along the deep the murmur stole;
’Twas wildly mix’d with joy and pain,        55
The rising wave forgot to roll!
 
Without the lyre’s recording string,
In vain the hero’s pulses glow,
Unless the muse her tribute bring,
His fame shall not through ages flow.        60
 
Who knows but in this unsung grave
A heart decays that, in life’s race,
Hoped to be blazon’d with the brave,
And spurn’d the earth’s contracted space.
 
But see the solemn night retires,        65
The swains collect the fields to till,
And morning, robed in living fires,
Walks o’er the dew of yonder hill.
 
 
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