Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Street Was a Ruin
By Robert Treat Paine (1773–1811)
THE STREET was a ruin, and night’s horrid glare
Illumined with terror the face of despair;
      While houseless, bewailing,
      Mute pity assailing,
A mother’s wild shrieks pierced the merciless air.        5
Beside her stood Edward, imploring each wind,
To wake his loved sister, who linger’d behind;
      Awake, my poor Mary,
    Oh! fly to me, Mary;
In the arms of your Edward, a pillow you ’ll find.        10
  In vain he call’d, for now the volumed smoke,
  Crackling, between the parting rafters broke;
  Through the rent seams the forked flames aspire,
  All, all, is lost; the roof, the roof ’s on fire!
A flash from the window brought Mary to view,        15
She scream’d as around her the flames fiercely blew;
      Where art thou, mother?
      Oh! fly to me, brother!
Ah! save your poor Mary, who lives but for you!
      Leave not poor Mary,        20
      Ah! save your poor Mary!
Her vision’d form descrying,
On wings of horror flying,
The youth erects his frantic gaze,
Then plunges in the maddening blaze!        25
      Aloft he dauntless soars,
      The flaming room explores;
      The roof in cinders crushes,
      Through tumbling walls he rushes!
      She ’s safe from fear’s alarms;        30
      She faints in Edward’s arms!
Oh! nature, such thy triumphs are,
Thy simplest child can bravely dare.

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