Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
I Thought It Slept
By Henry Pickering (1781–1838)
 
[From Recollections of Childhood.]

I SAW the infant cherub—soft it lay,
As it was wont, within its cradle, now
Deck’d with sweet smelling flowers. A sight so strange
Fill’d my young breast with wonder, and I gazed
Upon the babe the more. I thought it slept—        5
And yet its little bosom did not move!
I bent me down to look into its eyes,
But they were closed: then, softly clasp’d its hand,
But mine it would not clasp. What should I do?
“Wake, brother, wake!” I then impatient cried,        10
“Open thine eyes, and look on me again!”
He would not hear my voice. All pale beside
My weeping mother sat, “and gazed and look’d
Unutterable things.” Will he not wake?
I eager ask’d: She answer’d but with tears.        15
Her eyes on me, at length, with piteous look
Were cast—now on the babe once more were fix’d—
And now on me: then with convulsive sigh
And throbbing heart, she clasp’d me in her arms,
And in a tone of anguish faintly said—        20
“My dearest boy! thy brother does not sleep;
Alas! he ’s dead; he never will awake.”
He ’s dead! I knew not what it meant, but more
To know I sought not. For the words so sad,
“He never will awake”—sunk in my soul:        25
I felt a pang unknown before, and tears
That angels might have shed, my heart dissolved. 1
 
Note 1. From this little tale of unaffected childish sorrow, Mr Agate (an estimable young artist of New York) has produced a very touching picture. It was exhibited during the last season, at the National Academy in that city. [back]
 
 
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