Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Procession of Israelitish Virgins to Meet the Returning Army
By Timothy Dwight (1752–1817)
  THE SUN declined; besmear’d with dust and blood,
Slow o’er the plain the wearied squadrons trod;
When fair as Phosphor leads the morning train,
Dress’d in new beams, and beauteous from the main;
Crown’d with white flowers, that breath’d a rich perfume,        5
And clothed in loveliness of gayest bloom,
Rose in soft splendor Caleb’s youngest pride,
A thousand maidens following at her side.
In snow white robes of flowing silk array’d,
First of the virgins walk’d the blushing maid;        10
Her long, dark hair loose floated in the wind;
Her glowing eyes confess’d the etherial mind;
A wreath of olive flourish’d in her hand;
A silver lyre obey’d her soft command;
With sounds harmonious rang the warbled strings,        15
And thus the maids, and thus Selima sings.
“Who comes from Ai, adorn’d with gay attire,
Bright as the splendor of the morning fire?
Fair as the spring, ascends the lovely form,
And dreadful as the blaze that lights the storm!        20
Ye maids, with flowerets strew the conqueror’s way,
Strike the loud harp, and sing the dreadful day!”
  To Irad’s steps the matchless fair one came,
Her breast quick panting, and her cheeks on flame;
Her beauteous hand the verdant crown display’d;        25
Graceful he bow’d, and placed it on his head.
Slow to her train the trembling fair withdrew,
The charm’d youths following with a moveless view.
So, wing’d with light, and dress’d in strange array,
The mantling glory of the rising day,        30
With sweet complacence, such as angels show
To souls unprison’d from this world of woe,
Parted soft smiling from our general sire
Some bright-eyed virtue, of the heavenly choir,
Far in the solar walk, with wondrous flight,        35
The form celestial lessen’d on his sight.

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