Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
By Robert Waln (1794–1824)

TTHE BRIGHT 1 tear of beauty, in sadness, is stealing,—
  The gems of the east are less sparkling than these;—
Her cheek is all flush’d with the anguish of feeling,—
  Her white bosom carelessly bared to the breeze.
’T is the bride of the Soldier,—and Fancy had flourish’d        5
  In day dreams that circle the phantom of Love,
For the visions of bliss that the maiden had nourish’d,
  Her soul, in the warmth of its tenderness, wove.
But hark!—’t is the rush and the roaring of battle
  That rolls on the lingering wings of the wind;        10
The sabres gleam bright; and the cannon’s loud rattle
  Speaks death to the maiden, left weeping behind.
The turf is his pillow;—his mantle is heaven;—
  The warrior is sleeping the sleep of the brave!
The chains of affection are awfully riven,        15
  And moulder away in the gloom of the grave.

YOU said, dear girl, the other night,
  That love was all a fond illusion!—
But why, my dear, with eyes so bright,
  And cheeks so blooming with confusion?        20
And when I gravely own’d the truth,
  In prayers that love should ne’er entrance thee.
And blamed the wanton dreams of youth,—
  I saw thee frown;—perhaps ’t was fancy.
And as I press’d thy burning hand,        25
  And breathed the vow of never loving,
Why did thy heaving breast expand,
  With sighs so sweet,—yet so reproving?
But when I talk’d of friendship, dear,
  Of Plato, and his stoic pleasure,        30
I long’d to kiss the starting tear,
  And steal away the pearly treasure.
’T was love that sparkled in thine eye,
  And gemm’d thy cheek with wavering flushes
’T was love that breathed the chiding sigh,        35
  And mingled its tear with rosy blushes.
Then call it friendship;—what you will;—
  The heart disowns what the lips are naming;
It lives in the joy of the holy thrill,
  And the altar of love is brightly flaming.        40

’T IS the break of day, and cloudless weather,
The eager dogs are all roaming together,
The moor-cock is flitting across the heather,
      Up, rouse from your slumbers,
            Away!        45
      No vapor encumbers the day;
      Wind the echoing horn,
      For the waking morn
Peeps forth in its mantle of gray.
The wild-boar is shaking his dewy bristle,        50
The partridge is sounding his morning whistle,
The red-deer is bounding o’er the thistle,
      Up, rouse from your slumbers,
      No vapor encumbers the day        55
      Wind the echoing horn,
      For the waking morn
Peeps forth in its mantle of gray.
Note 1. Waln was born in Philadelphia. He was liberally educated, but did not pursue any regular profession, and though he wrote much, it was to him little more than an amusement. His writings are in general hasty and careless, but show considerable talent for light literature. In 1819, he published a satirical work called The Hermit in Philadelphia; this was well received, and soon came to a second edition. Shortly after appeared The American Bards, a poem in imitation of Lord Byron’s satire. In 1820, was published Sisyphi Opus, or Touches at the Times, with other poems. This was followed by a second series of the Hermit in Philadelphia, which succeeded as well as the first. Mr Waln after this, made a voyage to Canton as a supercargo, and on his return, he projected a History of China; this work he published in quarto numbers. After the publication of the third volume of the Biography of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Mr Waln undertook to conduct the work, and wrote several of the lives. In 1824, he published a life of La Fayette, in one volume octavo. Besides these performances, he wrote much for the periodicals, among other things a series of papers in the American Monthly Magazine, entitled A Voyage on Wings. He was also the author of a pamphlet, giving an account of the Quaker Hospital at Frankford, near Philadelphia. He died in 1824, at the age of thirty-one. [back]

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