Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
An Elegy on Lieut. De Hart
By Colonel David Humphreys (1752–1818)
 
          Volunteer aid-de-camp to General Wayne. This young warrior was killed in the attack on the Block-House near Fort Lee, 1780.

WHEN autumn, all humid and drear,
  With darkness and storms in his train,
Announcing the death of the year,
  Despoil’d of its verdure the plain;
When horror congenial prevail’d,        5
  Where graves are with fearfulness trod,
De Hart by his sister was wail’d,
  His sister thus sigh’d o’er his sod:
 
“Near Hudson, a fort, on these banks,
  Its flag of defiance unfurl’d:        10
He led to the storm the first ranks;
  On them, iron tempests were hurl’d.
Transpierced was his breast with a ball—
  His breast a red fountain supplied,
Which, gushing in waves still and small,        15
  Distain’d his white bosom and side.
 
“His visage was ghastly in death,
  His hair, that so lavishly curl’d,
I saw, as he lay on the heath,
  In blood, and with dew-drops impearl’d.        20
How dumb is the tongue, that could speak
  Whate’er could engage and delight!
How faded the rose on his cheek!
  Those eyes, how envelop’d in night!
 
“Those eyes, that illumined each soul,        25
  All darken’d to us are now grown:
In far other orbits they roll,
  Like stars to new systems when gone:
My brother, the pride of the plain,
  In vain did the graces adorn;        30
His blossom unfolded in vain,
  To die like the blossom of morn.
 
“O, war, thou hast wasted our clime,
  And tortured my bosom with sighs:
My brother, who fell ere his prime,        35
  Forever is torn from my eyes.
To me, how distracting the storm
  That blasted the youth in his bloom!
Alas, was so finish’d a form
  Design’d for so early a tomb?        40
 
“How bright were the prospects that shone!
  Their ruin ’tis mine to deplore—
Health, beauty, and youth were his own,
  Health, beauty, and youth are no more.
No blessings of nature and art,        45
  Nor music that charm’d in the song,
Nor virtues that glow’d in the heart,
  Dear youth, could thy moments prolong!
 
“Thrice six times the spring had renew’d
  Its youth and its charms for the boy;        50
With rapture all nature he view’d,
  For nature he knew to enjoy.
But chiefly his country could charm:
  He felt—’twas a generous heat—
With drums and the trumpet’s alarm,        55
  His pulses in consonance beat.
 
“Ye heroes, to whom he was dear,
  Come weep o’er this sorrowful urn,
Come ease the full heart with a tear—
  My hero will never return:        60
He died in the dawn of applause,
  His country demanded his breath;
Go, heroes, defend the same cause,
  Avenge with your country his death.”
 
So sung, on the top of the rocks,        65
  The virgin in sorrow more fair;
In tears her blue eyes; and her locks
  Of auburn flew loose on the air.
I heard, as I pass’d down the stream;
  The guards of the foe were in view:—        70
To enterprise fired by the theme,
  I bade the sweet mourner adieu.
 
 
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