Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Birth of a Poet
By John Neal (1793–1876)
  ON a blue summer night,
    While the stars were asleep,
    Like gems of the deep,
  In their own drowsy light;
    While the newly mown hay        5
    On the green earth lay,
And all that came near it went scented away;
  From a lone woody place,
  There looked out a face,
    With large blue eyes,        10
    Like the wet warm skies,
      Brimful of water and light;
    A profusion of hair
    Flashing out on the air,
      And a forehead alarmingly bright:        15
    ’T was the head of a poet! He grew
As the sweet strange flowers of the wilderness grow,
    In the dropping of natural dew,
      Till his heart had blown—        20
As the sweet strange flowers of the wilderness blow;
  Till every thought wore a changeable stain
  Like flower-leaves wet with the sunset rain:
    A proud and passionate boy was he,
    Like all the children of Poesy;        25
  With a haughty look and a haughty tread,
  And something awful about his head;
    With wonderful eyes
    Full of wo and surprise,
  Like the eyes of them that can see the dead        30
    Looking about,
  For a moment or two, he stood
  On the shore of the mighty wood;
    Then ventured out,
With a bounding step and a joyful shout,        35
  The brave sky bending o’er him!
  The broad sea all before him!

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