Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
On the Death of George II
By Stephen Sewall (1734–1804)
 
OF 1 cypress deign, celestial muse, to sing;
To plaintive numbers tune the trembling string,
      And soothe the gen’ral grief.—
      The voice of joy ’s no more,
      On Albion’s sadden’d shore:        5
      He ’s gone—Britannia’s royal chief!
      From the north to southern pole,
      From the farthest orient floods
      To Hesperia’s savage woods,
      Swelling tides of sorrow roll:        10
      Nor wonder; all an ample share
Partook, through boundless climes, of his paternal care.
 
Whate’er the muse’s mournful lays can do,
And more, blest shade! to thy loved name is due.
      Under thy gentle sway,        15
      Religion, heaven-born fair,
      In her own native air,
      Refulgent shone in golden day:
      Virtue, science, liberty,
      Blooming sisters, wreathed with bays,        20
      Grateful sung their patron’s praise:
      Commerce, o’er the broad-back’d sea,
      Extending far on floating isles,
Imported India’s wealth, and rich Peruvian spoils.
 
Let Rome her Julius and Octavius boast;        25
What both at Rome, George was on Albion’s coast.
      An olive-wreath his brow,
      Majestic, ever wore;
      Unless by hostile power
      Long urged, and then the laurel bough.        30
      Faithful bards, in epic verse,
      Vict’ries more than Julius won,
      And exploits, before undone,
      George the Hero, shall rehearse:
      While softer notes each tuneful swain        35
Shall breathe from oaten pipe, of George’s peaceful reign.
 
But, ah! while on the glorious past we dwell,
Enwrapt in silken thought, our bosoms swell
      With pleasing ecstacy,
      Forgetful of our wo.        40
      —Shall tears forbear to flow?
      Or cease to heave the deep-fetch’d sigh?
      Flow, ye tears, forever stream;
      Sighs, to whisp’ring winds complain;
      Winds, the sadly-solemn strain        45
      Waft, and tell the mournful theme.
      But what, alas! can tears or sighs?
What could, has ceased to be; the spirit mounts the skies.
 
With sympathetic wo, thy noontide ray,
Phœbus, suspend; ye clouds, obscure the day;        50
      Her face let Cynthia veil,
      Thick darkness spread her wing,
      And the night-raven sing,
      While Britons their sad fate bewail.
      Sacred flood, whose crystal tide,        55
      Gently gliding, rolls adown
      Fast by, once, the blissful town,
      Thames! with pious tears supply’d,
      Swell high, and tell the vocal shore
And jovial mariner, their glory’s now no more!        60
 
But stop, my plaintive muse: lo! from the skies
What sudden radiance strikes our wond’ring eyes?
      As had the lab’ring sun,
      From black and dismal shades,
      Which not a ray pervades,        65
      Emerging, with new lustre shone.
      In the forehead of the east,
      See the gilded morning star,
      Of glad day the harbinger:
      Sighing, now, and tears are ceased:        70
Still George survives; his virtues shine
In him, who sprung alike from Brunswick’s royal line.
 
Note 1. Sewall was born at York in Maine, in 1734, and studied at Harvard College, where he received a degree in 1761. The following year he was appointed teacher, and afterward Professor of Hebrew in that institution. He retained this office with the reputation of the most accomplished classical scholar in the country, till 1785. He died in 1804. He was the author of a Hebrew Grammar, and a Chaldee and English Dictionary; the last is still in manuscript.
  Professor Sewall was one of the authors of the Pietas et Gratulatio Collegii Cantabrigiensis, which we have mentioned in the life of Dr Church. Many of the Greek and Latin verses are by him, and two of the compositions in English. [back]
 
 
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