Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Descriptive Sonnets
By Henry Pickering (1781–1838)

        “THERE is nothing more beautiful than water. It has always the same pure flow, and the same low music, and is always ready to bear away your thoughts upon its bosom, like the Hindoo’s barque of flowers, to an imaginative heaven.”
Unwritten Poetry.    

  THERE is a balmy freshness in the air;
  And as the sunbeams on its surface gleam
  It seems as if upon the rippled stream
  A shower of diamonds fell: or as if there,
  Fantastic knit in frolic mood, some fair        5
  Invisible Spirits in the instant wound
  On airy tiptoe through the measured round,
  And left their dazzling foot-prints everywhere.
  ’T is a glad sight! and many a time I ’ve stood
  Upon the fringed banks the streamlets lave,        10
  Or perch’d me where some rock o’erhangs the flood,
  To see the light thus kiss each little wave:
  Ay! gaze even yet almost with the same joy
As when I was a young gay-hearted boy.

  SEE how the forest waves! The gnarled oak
  Even bends—and as the unruly wind sweeps through
  Its sturdy branches, showers of leaves bestrew
  The ground, or diverse fly; the crow, just broke
  From out the warring wood, with ominous croak
  Wheels heavily through air; the glorious hue        20
  Of the bright mantle summer lately threw
  O’er earth, is gone; and the sere leaves now choke
  The turbid fountains and complaining brooks;
  The o’ershadowing pines, alone, through which I rove,
  Their verdure keep, although it darker looks:        25
  And hark! as it comes sighing through the grove,
  The exhausted gale a Spirit there awakes,
That wild and melancholy music wakes.

  SYMBOL of peace! lo, there the ethereal bow!
  And see, on flagging wing, the storm retreats        30
  Far ’mid the depths of space; and with him fleets
  His lurid train—the while in beauty glow
  Vale, hill and sky once more. How lustrous now
  Earth’s verdant mantle! and the woods how bright!
  Where grass, leaf, flower, are sparkling in the light—        35
  Prompt ever with the slightest breeze to throw
  The rain drops to the ground. Within the grove
  Music awakes; and from each little throat,
  Silent so long, bursts the wild note of love;
  The hurried babblings of the rill denote        40
  Its infant joy; and rushing swift along,
The torrent gives to air, its hoarse and louder song.

  HOW beautifully soft it seems to sleep
  Upon the lap of the unbreathing vale,
  And where, unruffled by the gentlest gale,        45
  The lake its bosom spreads, and in its deep
  Clear wave, another world appears to keep,
  To steal the heart from this! for through the veil
  Transparent we may see, tree, rock, hill, dale,
  And sapphire sky, and golden mountain steep,        50
  That real seem, though fairer than our own:—
  Still, picture faint of that pure region drawn
  By prophet’s pen, but not to mortal shown,
  Where flow rivers of bliss—and vale, and lawn
  Are strewn with flowers immortal—where, alone,        55
Night never comes, and day is without dawn.

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