Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
By Frederic S. Hill
  I LOVE 1 sometimes to tune my simple lute,
And, as an echo to its softer strains,
Give utterance to the thoughts that often rush
Like an o’erflowing current through my soul.
What though my name, unknown amid the host        5
Of those who crowd around Apollo’s shrine,
Shine not emblazon’d on the rolls of Fame?
What though my wandering feet have never trod
The flowery Parnassus,—nor my lips
Imbibed poetic inspiration from        10
The pure Castalian spring?—still in the hour
When clouds of disappointment lower around,
And veil the scenes of beauty sketch’d by hope
In all her rainbow hues, the chord I touch,
May waken memory from her trance, and soothe        15
The throbbing of my heart. Sweet Poesy!
Thy full outpourings can assuage the breast
That heaves in tumult. O, if thou appear,—
Thy loosen’d tresses floating wide, thine eye
Beaming with an unearthly brightness, then        20
The rapt enthusiast in his ecstacy,
Forgets the chilling atmosphere of earth,
The selfish heartlessness of those around,
And thinks he wanders in thy sun-light sphere,
Holding “high converse” with thy chosen ones.        25
Up from the barren heath on which he treads,
The bloom of the primeval Eden springs;
Transparent waters meet him in his path,
And figures leap out even from the air,
Clothed in light drapery, and beautiful        30
As Houris in the Moslem Paradise.
  Seek’st thou the spirit who with magic wand
Can work these wonders? Come then; let us stand
Here, on the precipice that overhangs
That everlasting deep. O God! it is        35
A sight too solemn to look out upon,
Unless with reverence for thy majesty,
And for thy greatness, awe. See how the waves
Come surging onward—heaving, heaving on,
As if a consciousness of their own might        40
ave a new impulse to them. See! they strike
The battlements fix’d by Jehovah’s hand,
And the tremendous roar tells their defeat.
Look! look again—a coronal of foam
White as a snow-wreath, now surmounts the wave        45
And sparkles in the sun—and now—’t is gone!
  But night comes on: let us begone—we ’ll climb
Yon mountain, though it be a toilsome task.
Let no unhallow’d word pass from thy lips,
Nor impure thought dwell in thy heart—for now        50
We leave the earth and all its vanities
Below—and come up to a place, that seems
The threshold of th’ Eternal’s presence. Hush!
Here in this region silence sits supreme,
And now she slumbers ’neath the canopy        55
That darkness spreads around. The sense is pain’d
By the intensity of stillness, for
Even the breeze, although its dewy wing
Bring freshness with its stirring, in its flight
Is noiseless as the eagle, when he wheels        60
Alone and undisturb’d in the mid air.
The sky above looks dark and fathomless,
Like the great ocean in a troubled dream;
With a strange splendor burn the stars, and yet
Diffuse no light around, but rather seem        65
Like orbs that separate the realm of light
From chaos. ’T is a fearful spot—like that
Which David dreamt of, when he spoke of Him,
Who maketh darkness his abiding place.
  Still shall we on?—Aye, even to yon crags.        70
How fearfully Earth’s bosom quakes! It heaves
With tremulous throbbing, and sends forth deep tones,
Like thunder from a necromatic cave.
Or nature’s groans of agony. Gaze now
At yonder mighty burst of waters—see—        75
E’en the gigantic rocks, that look as firm
As adamantine pillars, based below
The centre dark—have yielded, and retired
To make free course for the fierce torrent’s plunge,
As did the waves for Israel’s fugitives,        80
When the Red Sea was smitten by the rod
That had been given to Israel’s chosen judge.
The white mist rises from the cataract
In rolling clouds, like the unceasing smoke
Of incense going to the throne of God,        85
And o’er the silvery sheet a rainbow spreads:—
A brilliant halo round the awful brow
Of majesty.
            Now we will seek the glen
That blossoms in rich beauty, like the fields        90
Of classic Tempe, in their loveliness.
It is a place meet for the home of those
Who leave the busy world—and in the pure,—
The blest communion of each other’s hearts,
Live in their hallow’d intercourse with Him        95
Who giveth them the boon of sweet content.
Of old, such haunts as this, the wood-nymphs sought,
And when the burning noon look’d hotly down,
Met with the Naiades of the neighboring streams;
These blew their wreathed shells, the others join’d        100
With delicate trumpets made of hollow flowers,
And fragrance mingled with the blending notes.
  Here oft I sit when eve with silent pace
Steals on—when only here and there a star
Emits a doubtful ray, as though it were        105
Some gentle spirit coming forth to see
This earth by summer twilight—then I love
To listen to the music issuing out
In untaught freedom from each gushing fount,
And to the melody among the leaves        110
Of the green woods. For Fancy then can deem
These sounds the low responsive utterings
From Nature’s temple to her worshippers.
Here, thou mayst woo the spirit of Poesy,
Here thou shalt find her, in her gentler moods.        115
Note 1. Hill, of Boston, is at present one of the editors of the Boston Daily Advertiser. Of the share which Mr Hill has had in the present work, we have spoken in the preface. His volume entitled “The Harvest Festival, with other poems,” which he published in 1826, is an immature performance, but abounds with beauties. However lightly he may be disposed to think of these hasty effusions, we deem them worthy of an honorable place in our collection. The extracts which we give, will show that he possesses the true feeling of a poet. [back]

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