Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Reflections in Solitude
By Samuel Ewing
  TO 1 me, no heedless, listless looker on,
The idle fashions of a thoughtless race
Are pleasant. Though my feeble voice swell not
The hum of crowds, nor do I judge it wise
To mingle in their scenes, I do not yet        5
Forget my kind. Lull’d to tranquillity
By charms that Nature, in a kindly mood,
Grants, in profusion, to the lover-breath
Of youthful spring, I seek the grassy side
Of this clear brook. I deem it not unwise        10
To woo seclusion at the morning hour.
What place, along the hedge, the op’ning rose,
Peeps through the trembling dews, while all the wood
Rings with the varied strains of gratitude
That nature’s children breathe, as flutt’ring light        15
From bough to bough, they make their duty, pleasure.
Driven, by a thankless world, to seek Content
In rural scenes, I sought and found her there.
With her it solaces me much to while,
In musings sweet, an idle hour away,        20
On gifts that God has lavish’d on mankind.
The last, the sweetest boon he gave to man,
Was Love. In Eden’s bowers the cherub first
Was found. What hour uncoffin’d ghosts steal out,
To sit by new-made graves, or stand behind        25
The village matron’s chair, to counterfeit
The clicking of the clock, or, yet more rude,
Tap at the window of the dreaming maid,
Or glide in winding-sheet across the room,
Borrowing the form that late her lover wore;        30
Upon a moon-beam, at such silent hour,
The boy descended, and, alighting soft,
Chose for his throne the mild blue eye of Eve.
On either pinion sat a fairy form
To guide the arrows, that, in wanton mood        35
The boy would hazard—This Romance was named,
And Fancy, that—One pluck’d, with busy hand,
Soft down from doves, and, artful, twined it round
The arrow’s head, to hide from mortal eyes
The scorpion sting that barb’d the weapon’s point.        40
While that, with syren smile, a mirror show’d
On whose smooth surface danced, in angel robes,
Perfection’s form. And ever from that night,
The sportful twins attend the train of Love.
Thus was the garden, first by Adam’s voice,        45
Call’d Paradise. And now what spot the boy
His transient visit pays, in wilderness
Or bower, or palace, or the lowly shed,
Man names it Paradise, nor errs he much
In such a name.        50
  Though oft the side-long look,
The heavy sigh, that speaks the anxious doubt;
The flitting blush that lights the virgin’s cheek;
The mind, abstracted from the present scene;
Eyes, idly fix’d unconscious on the hearth;        55
The trembling lip, and melancholy mien;
Though these, no dubious signs, proclaim the boy
The city’s visitor, he yet prefers
To hold his court by moon-light, in the grove,
Or where the babbling brook winds through the wood,        60
Or where on shady side of sloping hill,
The green vine crawls, or where innum’rous boughs,
Raising each other’s leaves just over head,
Keep the rude sun-beam from the lover’s couch,
The grassy bank. Here Love his revels keeps,        65
While every breeze blows health, and every wind,
That sweeps the maiden’s locks, and shows new charms,
Makes music sweeter than Apollo’s lyre.
Sweet is the landscape, wild and picturesque,
To him, the youth, whose glowing fancy paints        70
The love-crown’d cottage as the seat of bliss!
Sweet is the forest’s twilight gloom, and sweet
The May-morn ramble! Sweet to pace along
The farm-boy’s path, that, winding through the wood,
Leads to variety, within whose bounds        75
Alone is found the food that never cloys!
But sweeter far than brook, or walk, or wood,
Or May-morn ramble, or the evening stroll,
Far sweeter than imagination’s stores,
The stolen interview with her he loves!        80
Sweet is the voice of Nature to his ear,
Long pain’d with list’ning to the tale of vice!
Sweet is the mock-bird’s counterfeited note!
And sweet the murm’ring of the busy bee!
Sweet is the distant bell, at silent eve,        85
That guides the cow-boy where the cattle stray!
Sweet is the lengthen’d, still increasing sound,
Of horn that calls from meadows, wood, or field,
The weary lab’rer to his healthful meal!
The flute may cheat his melancholy mind        90
Of many a fancied ill, and as its strains
Float on the evening breeze, may gather mild
And mellowing influence to his greedy ear,
By mingling with the moonbeams! Yet to him
No note so musical—no strain so sweet        95
As sighs that tell his fond—his doubting heart,
The love she would, but cannot hide from him!
Note 1. Ewing was a resident of Philadelphia. We believe he was the son of Dr John Ewing, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania. He is known as the author of the Reflections in Solitude, a poem first published in the Port Folio. He seems to have looked to Cowper for his model. His poetry was the work of his early years, and though not brilliant, has good qualities sufficient to recommend it to notice. [back]

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