Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Wild Boy
By Charles West Thomson (1798–1879)
HE 1 sat upon the wave-wash’d shore,
  With madness in his eye;
The surge’s dash—the breaker’s roar,
  Pass’d unregarded by—
He noted not the billows’ roll,        5
  He heeded not their strife,—
For terror had usurp’d his soul,
  And stopp’d the streams of life.
They spoke him kindly—but he gazed,
  And offer’d no reply—        10
They gave him food—he look’d amazed,
  And threw the morsel by.
He was as one o’er whom a spell
  Of darkness hath been cast;
His spirit seem’d alone to dwell        15
  With dangers that were past.
The city of his home and heart,
  So grand—so gaily bright,
Now, touch’d by Fate’s unerring dart,
  Had vanish’d from his sight.        20
The earthquake’s paralyzing shake
  Had rent it from its hold—
And nothing but a putrid lake
  Its tale of terror told.
His kindred there, a numerous band,        25
  Had watch’d his youthful bloom—
In the broad ruin of the land,
  All—all had met their doom!
But the last night, a mother’s voice
  Breathed over him in prayer—        30
She perish’d—he was left no choice
  But mute and blank despair.
He sat alone, of all the crowd
  That lately throng’d around—
The ocean winds were piping loud,        35
  He did not heed their sound;
They ask’d him of that city’s fate,
  But reason’s reign was o’er—
He pointed to her ruin’d state,
  Then fled—and spoke no more.        40
Note 1. See Kircher’s description of the earthquake in Calabria in 1638. [back]

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