Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Retirement
By Joseph Brown Ladd (1764–1786)
 
  HAIL, sweet retirement, hail!
Best state of man below,
To smooth the tide of passions frail,
And bear the soul away from scenery of wo.
  When, retired from busy noise,        5
Vexing cares and troubled joys,
To a mild serener air,
In the country we repair:
Calm enjoy the rural scene,
Sportive o’er the meadows green:        10
When the sun’s enlivening ray
Speaks the genial month of May,
Lo! his amorous, wanton beams
Dance on yonder crystal streams;
In soft dalliance pass the hours,        15
Kissing dew-drops from the flowers,
While soft music through the grove,
Sweetly tunes the soul to love.
And the hills harmonious round
Echo with responsive sound;        20
There the turtle-dove alone,
Makes his soft, melodious moan;
While from yonder bough ’t is heard,
Sweetly chirps the yellow-bird:
There the linnet’s downy throat        25
Warbles the responsive note;
And to all the neighboring groves,
Robin Redbreast tells his loves.
  There, Amanda, we might walk,
And of soft endearments talk;        30
Or anon we ’d listen, love,
To the gently-cooing dove.
In some sweet, embowering shade,
Some fair seat by nature made,
I my love would gently place,        35
On the tender woven grass:
Seated by thy lovely side,
Oh, how great would be my pride!
While my soul should fix on thine,
Oh the joy to call thee mine!        40
  For why should doves have more delight,
Than we, my sweet Amanda, might?
And why should larks and linnets be
More happy, lovely maid, than we?
  There the pride of genius blooms,        45
There sweet contemplation comes:
There is science, heavenly fair,
Sweet philosophy is there;
With each author valued most,
Ancient glory, modern boast.        50
There the mind may revel o’er
Doughty deeds of days of yore;
How the mighty warriors stood,
How the field was dyed in blood,
How the shores were heap’d with dead,        55
And the rivers stream’d with red;
While the heroes’ souls on flame,
Urged them on to deathless fame.
Or we view a different age
Pictured in the historic page—        60
Kings, descending from a throne;
Tyrants, making kingdoms groan,
With each care to state allied,
And all the scenery of pride.
Or perhaps we ’ll study o’er        65
Books of philosophic lore;
Read what Socrates has thought,
And how godlike Plato wrote;
View the earth with Bacon’s eyes;
Or, with Newton, read the skies;        70
See each planetary ball,
One great sun attracting all:
All by gravitation held,
Self-attracted, self-repelled:
We shall cheat away old time,        75
Passing moments so sublime.
  Hail, sweet retirement, hail!
Best state of man below,
To smooth the tide of passions frail,
And bear the soul away from scenery of wo.        80
 
 
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