Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Lines to the Western Mummy
By William E. Gallaudet (1795?–1821)
 
O STRANGER, 1 whose repose profound
  These latter ages dare to break,
And call thee from beneath the ground
  Ere nature did thy slumber shake!
 
What wonders of the secret earth        5
  Thy lip, too silent, might reveal!
Of tribes round whose mysterious birth
  A thousand envious ages wheel!
 
Thy race by savage war o’errun,
  Sunk down, their very name forgot;        10
But ere those fearful times begun,
  Perhaps, in this sequester’d spot,
 
By friendship’s hand thine eyelids closed,
  By friendship’s hand the turf was laid—
And friendship here perhaps reposed,        15
  With moonlight vigils in the shade.
 
The stars have run their nightly round,
  The sun look’d out and pass’d his way,
And many a season o’er the ground
  Has trod where thou so softly lay.        20
 
And wilt thou not one moment raise
  Thy weary head, awhile to see
The later sports of earthly days,
  How like what once enchanted thee?
 
Thy name, thy date, thy life declare—        25
  Perhaps a queen whose feathery band
A thousand maids have sigh’d to wear,
  The brightest in thy beauteous band.
 
Perhaps a Helen, from whose eye
  Love kindled up the flame of war—        30
Ah me! do thus thy graces lie
  A faded phantom and no more!
 
O! not like thee would I remain,
  But o’er the earth my ashes strew,
And in some rising bud regain        35
  The freshness that my childhood knew.
 
But has thy soul, O maid! so long
  Around this mournful relict dwelt?
Or burst away with pinion strong,
  And at the foot of mercy knelt?        40
 
Or has it in some distant clime
  With curious eye unsated stray’d,
And down the winding stream of time
  On every changeful current play’d?
 
Or lock’d in everlasting sleep        45
  Must we thy heart extinct deplore?
Thy fancy lost in darkness, weep,
  And sigh for her who feels no more?
 
Or exiled to some humbler sphere,
  In yonder wood-dove dost thou dwell.        50
And murmuring in the stranger’s ear,
  Thy tender melancholy tell?
 
Whoe’er thou be, thy sad remains
  Shall from the muse a tear demand,
Who, wandering on these distant plains.        55
  Looks fondly to a distant land.
 
Note 1. Gallaudet was a native of Hartford, Connecticut. He was graduated at Yale College in 1815, and commenced the study of medicine in New York, but abandoned it for some mercantile views. These were however, terminated by his death at the age of 26, in 1821. He was a young man of uncommon promise. Poetry he wrote, but not much. We know of nothing that has been published, except the annexed piece which was included in Roscoe’s Specimens of the American Poets. [back]
 
 
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