Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Burial of the Young
By Lydia H. Sigourney (1791–1865)
THERE was an open grave,—and many an eye
Look’d down upon it. Slow the sable hearse
Moved on, as if reluctantly it bare
The young, unwearied form to that cold couch,
Which age and sorrow render sweet to man.        5
—There seem’d a sadness in the humid air,
Lifting the long grass from those verdant mounds
Where slumber multitudes.—
            —There was a train
Of young, fair females, with their brows of bloom,        10
And shining tresses. Arm in arm they came,
And stood upon the brink of that dark pit,
In pensive beauty, waiting the approach
Of their companion. She was wont to fly,
And meet them, as the gay bird meets the spring,        15
Brushing the dew-drop from the morning flowers,
And breathing mirth and gladness. Now she came
With movements fashion’d to the deep-toned bell:—
She came with mourning sire, and sorrowing friend,
And tears of those who at her side were nursed        20
By the same mother.
            Ah! and one was there,
Who, ere the fading of the summer rose,
Had hoped to greet her as his bride. But death
Arose between them. The pale lover watch’d        25
So close her journey through the shadowy vale,
That almost to his heart, the ice of death
Enter’d from hers. There was a brilliant flush
Of youth about her,—and her kindling eye
Pour’d such unearthly light, that hope would hang        30
Even on the archer’s arrow, while it dropp’d
Deep poison. Many a restless night she toil’d
For that slight breath which held her from the tomb,
Still wasting like a snow-wreath, which the sun
Marks for his own, on some cool mountain’s breast,        35
Yet spares, and tinges long with rosy light.
——Oft o’er the musings of her silent couch,
Came visions of that matron form which bent
With nursing tenderness, to soothe and bless
Her cradle dream: and her emaciate hand        40
In trembling prayer she raised—that He who saved
The sainted mother, would redeem the child.
Was the orison lost?—Whence then that peace
So dove-like, settling o’er a soul that loved
Earth and its pleasures?—Whence that angel smile        45
With which the allurements of a world so dear
Were counted and resign’d? that eloquence
So fondly urging those whose hearts were full
Of sublunary happiness to seek
A better portion? Whence that voice of joy,        50
Which from the marble lip in life’s last strife
Burst forth, to hail her everlasting home?
—Cold reasoners! be convinced. And when ye stand
Where that fair brow, and those unfrosted locks
Return to dust,—where the young sleeper waits        55
The resurrection morn,—Oh! lift the heart
In praise to Him, who gave the victory.

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