Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Ode to Meditation
By William Moore Smith (1759–1821)
 
  OH! thou, who lov’st to dwell
  Within some far sequester’d cell,
  Unknown to Folly’s noisy train,
  Untrod by Riot’s step profane,
  Meek Meditation! silent maid,        5
  To thee my votive verse be paid;
  To thee, whose mildly pleasing power
  Could check wild youth’s impetuous flight,
  And in affection’s gloomy night
  Could soothe the “torturing hour,”        10
    To thee the strains belong;
  But say, what powerful spell,
  What magic force of song
Can lure thy solemn steps, to my uncultured bower
 
  By night’s pale orb, beneath whose ray        15
  With thee thy Plato oft would stray;
  By the brilliant star of morn
  That saw thee bend o’er Solon’s urn;
  By all the tears you shed
  When Numa bow’d his languid head;        20
  By the mild joys that in thy breast would swell,
  When Antonine, by grateful realms adored,
  Majestic Rome’s immortal lord,
  Would leave the toils, the pomp of state,
  The crimson splendors of the victor’s car,        25
  The painful pleasures of the great,
  The shouts of triumph, and the din of war,
In Tiber’s hallowed groves with thee to dwell.
 
  But ah!—on Grecian plains no more
  Exists the taste for ancient lore,        30
  For from oppression’s scourge the muses fled;
  And Tiber’s willow’d banks along
  Where Maro pour’d the classic song,
Grim superstition stalks with giant tread.
 
  Yet can Columbia’s plains afford        35
  The magic spell, the potent word;—
  A spell to charm thy sober ear,
  A name to thee, to freedom dear!—
    By the soft sigh that stole o’er Schuylkill’s wave,
  When he around whose urn        40
  Dejected nations mourn,
  Immortal Franklin sunk into the grave;
  By his thoughts, by thee inspired;
  By his works by worlds admired;
  By the tears by science shed,        45
  O’er the patriot’s dying head;
  By the voice of purest fame
  That gave to time his deathless name,
  By these, and every powerful spell,
Oh! come meek nymph, with me to dwell.        50
 
  The garland weave for Franklin’s head,
  Wreaths of oak from Runnymead,
  Where the British barons bold
  Taught their king in days of old,
  To tremble at insulted Freedom’s frown,        55
  And venerate the rights her children deem’d their own.
  For he, like them, intrepid rose
  Against insulted Freedom’s foes,
  Fix’d the firm barrier ’gainst oppression’s plan,
And dared assert the sacred rights of man!        60
 
  And in the wreath, which Freedom’s hand shall twine
  To deck her champion’s ever honor’d shrine,
  The victor’s laurel shall be seen
  In folds of never-dying green;
  The muses too, shall bring        65
  Each flow’ret of the spring,
  Wet with the beamy tears of morn;
  And there with all her tresses torn,
    What time meek twilight’s parting ray
  Sinks lingering in nights dun embrace,        70
    Pale-eyed Philosophy shall stray
  In hopes his awful form to trace,
  Hovering on some pregnant cloud,
  From whence, while thunders burst aloud,
  From whence, while through the trembling air        75
  In lurid streams the lightnings glare,
His rod her head she ’ll wave around,
And lead the harmless terrors to the ground.
 
  But, should milder scenes than these
  Thy sober, pensive bosom please,        80
  We ’ll seek the dark embrowning wood
  That frowns o’er broad Ohio’s flood,
  And while amid the gloom of night
  No twinkling star attracts the sight;
  And while beneath, the sullen tide        85
  Shall in majestic silence glide,
  We ’ll listen to the notes of wo,
  By echo borne from plains below,
  Where Genius droops his laurel’d head,
  And Honor mourns a Clymer dead.        90
 
  Thou sullen flood, whose dreary shore
  Has oft been stain’d with streams of gore,
  Ah! never did a meeker tear
    Impearl thy banks from Virtue’s eye;
  Ah! never did thy breezes bear        95
    A purer breath than Clymer’s sigh.
  Ye plains that saw sedition wave
    Her impious banners to the wind,
  With you the youth has found his grave,
    To you is virtue’s friend consign’d;        100
  Yet still, as each succeeding race
    Through time to fate shall pass away,
  Ah! never shall your sods embrace
    A dearer pledge than Clymer’s clay.
 
  Oft o’er the spot that wraps his head        105
  Shall Pity’s softest tears be shed,
  There Friendship’s sacred form shall come
  To strow with flowers his Clymer’s tomb,
  And while the queen of night shall shroud
  Her beams behind some threatening cloud;        110
  And while the western mountain’s brow
  The star of eve shall sink below;
  And while the consecrated ground
  Mute Melancholy stalks around,
  There, Meditation, shalt thou find        115
  A scene to suit thy sober mind,
  There Fancy’s hand shall form the cell
  In which thou long shalt love to dwell,
  And undisturbed by wild sedition’s tread,
  Muse o’er the virtues of the silent dead.        120
 
 
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