Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Dirge
By James G. Brooks (1801–1841)
I SAW her in life’s morning bloom,
  In youth and beauty brightly gay,
And little thought the savage tomb
  So soon would steal her charms away:
I saw her when her eye was bright        5
  As the blue vestment of the sky,
And little thought the fearful night
  Of the death angel was so nigh!
And it was mine to see her fade,
  To see her wither day by day;        10
And it was mine to see her laid
  Beneath the cold, repulsive clay;
And then the sad funereal bell
  Bore the death music to my ear—
’T was hope’s and love’s expiring knell.        15
  Yet I was left to linger here.
It little boots my spirit now,
  To think that she was fair and kind;
White were the lilies on her brow,
  And stainless was her gentle mind.        20
Her’s was the holy, heavenly love,
  Which beacons life’s beclouded way,
Such as the seraphs feel above,
  Where heaven’s eternal sunbeams play.
She moved along in loveliness,        25
  As woman moved at Eden’s birth,
And seem’d an angel sent to bless
  The weary wilderness of earth.
Too soon the earth received her form:
  Nor worth, nor innocence could save        30
Her bosom from the earthy worm—
  Her bonny blossoms from the grave!
And many sorrow’d o’er her lot,
  And many wept beside her bier—
By heaven!—too soon she was forgot,        35
  And time full early chased the tear;
Yes! ere the grass began to spread
  Its verdure o’er her, fresh and green,
Her memory from their breasts had fled,
  As if the loved one ne’er had been!        40
Yet there was one that loved her well,
  On whom her trusting heart relied,
Whose soul clung fondly to her spell,
  Nor cared for all the world beside:
And on his heart the seal is set;        45
  That image dwells for ever more,
To cherish still its fond regret,
  Till life’s last agony is o’er.

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