Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Clouds
By Thomas O. Folsom (1802–1827)
 
BEAUTIFUL 1 clouds in the quiet sky
Whence come ye, floating so proudly by?
“We come from the land where the forest’s gloom
Frowns darkly around the old warrior’s tomb,
Where the ramparts he rear’d still their strength retain,        5
Though ye seek their defender’s name in vain.
 
“We have cross’d the streams of the boundless west,
We have cluster’d in wreaths round the mountain’s crest,
We have swept the prairie’s lonely green,
O’er buffalo herds we have hung a screen,        10
We have shadow’d the path that the hunters take,
And obscured the gleam of the sunny lake.”
 
Clouds that are skirted with golden light,
What have ye seen in your airy flight?
“We have seen stern gloom on the Indian’s brow,        15
And the grief that stung him, but could not bow,
As he left the shore where his fathers rest,
To seek a new home in the far-off west.
 
“We have seen the desert from wildness freed,
And the hardy husbandman scattering seed,        20
Villages rising by every stream,
And the white sail glancing in morning’s beam;
Yet we saw that woes every scene deprave,
For we look’d on many a fresh-dug grave.”
 
Say, what is the end of your pilgrimage?        25
“We have seen the mountain oak scathed by age,
On the shiver’d crag there is writ—decay—
Shall we be more happy and strong than they?
Man’s labors and glories doth time obscure—
And shall we, things of vapor and shade, endure?        30
 
“Beauteous and dense as we seem to you,
We are vanishing fast from your wondering view,
For the sweeping gust and the sunny ray
Are hurrying and melting our fleeces away;
When the morning comes in its glowing sheen,        35
Not a mist will tell we have ever been.”
 
Beautiful clouds, it is ever thus,
Stern time is consuming our works and us;
And ye—though storms in your robe are roll’d,
Though the thunder sleep in your dusky fold,        40
Though ye boast a heavenly home and birth
Ye must fade away like things of earth.
 
Note 1. Folsom was born at Hallowell, Maine, in 1802. He received his education at the Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, studied medicine in Boston, and entered into practice there, but his career was soon closed by a consumption. He died at Exeter, September 11th, 1827, at the age of 25.
  He was for a year or two before his death, the editor of The Boston Spectator. In this, and other periodicals, he wrote a few poetical articles. [back]
 
 
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