Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Musing Thoughts
By Lydia H. Sigourney (1791–1865)
I DID not dream, and yet untiring thought
Rang such wild changes on the spirit’s harp,
It seem’d that slumber ruled.
                A structure rose
Deep founded and gigantic. Strangely blent        5
Its orders seem’d. The dusky Gothic tower
Ecclesiastical, the turret proud
In castellated pomp, the palace dome,
The grated dungeon, and the peasant’s cot
Were grouped within its walls.        10
                A throne was there,
A king with all his gay and courtly train
In robes of splendor, and a vassal throng
Eager to do his will, and pleased with chains
Of gilded servitude. The back-ground seem’d        15
Darken’d by Misery’s pencil. Famine cast
A tinge of paleness o’er the brow of toil,
While Poverty, to soothe her naked babes,
Shriek’d forth a broken song.
                Then came a groan—        20
A rush, as if of thunder; and the earth
From yawning clefts breathed forth volcanic flames,
While the huge fabric, rocking to its base,
A ruin seem’d. A miserable mass
Of tortured life roll’d through the burning gates,        25
And spread terrific o’er the parching soil,
Like blacken’d lava. Then there was a pause.
As if the dire convulsion mourned its wreck.
To the rent walls the sad survivors clung,
And, even ’mid smouldering fires, the artificers        30
Wrought to uprear the pile.
                But all at once
A bugle blast was heard—a courser’s tramp—
While a stern warrior waved his sword, and cried,
“Away! away!” Like dreams the pageant fled,        35
Monarch, and royal dame, and nobles proud.
So there he stood alone, array’d in power
Supreme and self-derived.
                Where the rude Alps
Mock with their battlements the bowing cloud,        40
His eagle-banner stream’d. Pale Gallia pour’d
Incense as to an idol, mixed with blood
Of her young conscript hearts. Chain’d in wild wrath,
The Austrian lion couch’d; even Cæsar’s realm
Cast down its crown pontifical, and bade        45
The Eternal city lay her lip in dust.
The Land of Pyramids bent darkly down,
And from the subject nations rose a voice
Of wretchedness that awed the trembling globe.
Earth, slowly rising from her thousand thrones,        50
Did homage to the Corsican, as he
The favor’d patriarch in his dream beheld
Heaven, with her sceptred blazonry of stars,
Bow to a reaper’s sheaf. But fickle man,
Though like the sea he boast himself awhile,        55
Hath bounds to his supremacy. I saw
A listed field, where the embattled kings
Drew in deep wrath their armed legions on.
The self-crown’d warrior blench’d not, and his sword
Gleam’d like the flashing lightning, when it cleaves        60
The vaulted firmament. In vain, in vain!
The hour of fate had come. From a fair isle,
’Gainst whose bold rocks the foil’d Pacific roars,
I heard above the troubled surge, the moan
Of a chafed spirit warring with its lot;        65
And there, where every element conspired
To make Ambition’s prison doubly sure,
The mighty warrior gnaw’d his chain, and died.

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