Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Parting
By Katharine A. Ware (1797–1843)
SHE loved him e’en in childhood, with that pure
Devotion, which the bosom feels secure
In youthful innocence—when first the heart
Elects its idol, sacred and apart
From other beings:—oh! there is a truth,        5
A beam, that wakes not when the glow of youth
Is past,—’t is like the ray that morning throws,
Upon the bosom of the blushing rose.
She was a creature—such as painters love
To draw,—like her who to imperial Jove        10
The nectar’d goblet bore; just such an eye,
And such a cheek was hers—its roseate dye
Seem’d borrow’d from the morning—her bright hair
Like braided gold, wreath’d round a brow as fair
As Parian marble—all those curving lines        15
That mark perfection—and which taste defines
As beautiful, gave to her youthful form
A loveliness, a grace, so thrilling warm
That every motion seem’d to speak a soul
Whose inborn radiance illumed the whole.        20
He too, was in life’s joyous spring; the glow
Of sunny health was on his cheek—his brow
Was bold and fearless,—his keen eagle eye
Was looking forth to scenes of victory;
For War had plumed his crest—and nerved his arm—        25
And there was breathing round him, all the charm
Of high devotion to his country’s weal;—
While the bright panoply of gold, and steel,
That mail’d his breast—and flash’d upon his brow—
Gave proud assurance of the soldier’s vow.
*      *      *      *
He dream’d not that he loved her—for in truth
He knew the child e’en from her earliest youth.
Oft had he look’d upon the young Eloise
As a sweet being whom he wish’d to please—
To gather roses for, and braid her hair,        35
To guard her with a brother’s tender care—
But never dream’d of love, for haply he
Had fix’d his hopes on higher destiny.
With pride he heard his summon to the field:
Yet, had his heart its secret thoughts reveal’d,        40
Some shades of sadness had been lingering there,
On leaving home, and friends, and scenes so fair
He came to bid adieu—’t was a mild night
Of softest moonshine—and its dewy light
Was on the shrubs, and flowers that bloom’d around—        45
And there was music in the soothing sound
Of the bright rill that murmur’d through the glade,
And sparkled ’neath the willow’s pensile shade,
The summer breeze was sighing through its boughs
In whispers, soft as youthful lovers’ vows.        50
She was reclining in the latticed bower—
Musing, as ’t were upon the stilly hour.
“Dear Eloise!” he said—(the sudden flush
Of new-born feeling call’d a crimson blush
On her young cheek, that made the life-blood start        55
In thrilling eddies round his conscious heart,)
“Dear Eloise—I come to bid adieu—
To these fair scenes, to happiness, and you.
Hast thou no wish—no blessing, for thy friend?
Who, far from thee, and all he loves, shall wend        60
His pilgrimage, through wilderness and toil,
Uncheer’d by friendship’s voice—or Beauty’s smile.
He laid his hand upon her seraph head,
Press’d a warm kiss upon her brow, and said—
“May heaven preserve thee, pure, as angels are—        65
The world is wicked—lovely one—beware!
Thou art an orphan—would that title might
Protect thy innocence from the fell blight
Of those who hover in fair virtue’s way,
To tempt the steps of guileless youth astray.        70
Would I could guard thee—but my path of life
Lies through the ranks of war, ’mid battle’s strife—
There duty calls me—should I ne’er return,
Say—wouldst thou sorrow o’er thy soldier’s urn?
Yet if some future day I dare to claim        75
The dear bought honors of a hero’s name—
May Eloisa’s fond remembrance prove
Her youthful friendship ripen’d into love?”
Pure as a vestal’s hymn that breathes to heaven!
That night, their vows of mutual faith were given.
*      *      *      *
Years have roll’d on—but yet no warrior came
With laurell’d brow, his youthful bride to claim—
Years have roll’d on—the wintry frosts have shed
Their sparkling crystals o’er his lowly bed.
Where proud St Lawrence wreathes his crested wave,        85
That youthful hero found an early grave.
But though unwept by fond affection’s tear—
A soldier’s honors graced his funeral bier.
Years have roll’d on since Nature’s loveliest child,
Within her garden bower in beauty smiled—        90
Years have roll’d on, and spring with annual bloom
Still twines her wreath o’er Eloisa’s tomb,
While kindred spirits hymn her requiem there,
And freight with sweetest sounds the balmy air.

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