Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Elegiac Epistle
By John Osborn (1713–1753)
Addressed to One of His Sisters on the Death of Another.

DEAR sister, see the smiling spring
  In all its beauties here;
The groves a thousand pleasures bring,
  A thousand grateful scenes appear.
With tender leaves the trees are crown’d,        5
And scatter’d blossoms all around,
      Of various dyes
      Salute your eyes,
  And cover o’er the speckled ground.
Now thickets shade the glassy fountains;        10
  Trees overhang the purling streams;
Whisp’ring breezes brush the mountains,
  Grots are fill’d with balmy steams.
But, sister, all the sweets that grace
The spring and blooming nature’s face;        15
      The chirping birds,
      Nor lowing herds;
      The woody hills,
      Nor murm’ring rills;
      The sylvan shades,        20
      Nor flowery meads,
To me their former joys dispense,
Though all their pleasures court my sense.
But melancholy damps my mind,
      I lonely walk the field,        25
      With inward sorrow fill’d,
And sigh to every breathing wind.
I mourn our tender sister’s death,
  In various plaintive sounds;
While hills above, and vales beneath,        30
  The faltering notes rebound.
Perhaps when in the pains of death,
  She gasp’d her latest breath,
You saw our pensive friends around,
  With tears bedew the ground.        35
  Our loving father stand,
  And press her trembling hand,
  And gently cry, “My child, adieu!
  We all must follow you.”
  Some tender friend did then perhaps arise,        40
    And close her dying eyes:
  Her stiffen’d body, cold and pale,
  Was then convey’d within the gloomy vale
    Of death’s unhallow’d shade.
Weak mortals, Oh! how hard our fate;        45
How sure our death,—how short our date,
  How quickly sets our day!
We all are doom’d to lay our heads
Beneath the earth in mournful shades,
  To hungry worms a prey.        50
But, loving sister, let’s prepare
      With virtue’s steady feet,
      That we may boldly meet
The rider of the pale horse void of fear.
But why should you and I for ever mourn        55
Our dear relation’s death? She ’s gone—
  We ’ve wept enough to prove
  Our grief and tender love.
  Let joy succeed, and smiles appear,
  And let us wipe off every tear.        60
  Not always the cold winter lasts,
  With snow and storms, and northern blasts.
  The raging seas with fury tost,
  Not always break and roar;
  Sometimes their native anger’s lost.        65
And smooth hush’d waves glide softly to the shore.

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