Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
St. Paul’s Church, Boston
By John Everett (1801–1826)
 
BEAUTIFUL, 1 pure and simple, there thou stand’st,
Fit temple for the pure and only God,
Smiling in cold severity. The heart
That views thee, fills with the bright memory
Of other days; the sunny lands of song,        5
In their sad, lovely silence of decay,
Rise up to the remembrance in thy sight.
The thoughts of other days, when Plato stood
At Sunium: when the imperial one, herself,
Athena, visited the Parthenon:        10
Or of the later age, when the proud Roman,
Within the vast Pantheon’s walls, beheld
One stream of purest lustre from above,
Lighting the idol-habited Rotund.
Not unacceptable was their ignorant worship        15
To him they served in darkness, but to thee
A nobler precept than Colonna heard,
A purer light than the Pantheon saw
Is given. Thy cherub songs, and wreathed flowers,
Incense and sacrifice and gifts devote,        20
Are prayer and penitence, the tearful eye,
The innocent life, the broken, contrite heart.
Simple in elegance, no mounting spire,
Tower, minaret, nor gaily burnish’d dome
Mars thy severe proportions. No device        25
Of polish’d moulding, sculptured tracery,
Not e’en the soft acanthine folds are there,
Like the divine magnificence of virtue,
Whose ornament would not obscure its worth.
Now, while yon moonbeam gently steals along        30
The columns of that simple peristyle,
Silvering the massive shaft and plain volute
Of yon extremest pillar, let me gaze
With calm delight insatiate. There is given
A moral feeling to a beautiful scene        35
Of glorious art with nature join’d, like this,—
And memory crown’d with moonlight roses, lives
To hover o’er the storied names of old;
Heroes and sages deathless—the pure heart
Of him 2 whose lip with sweetest nectar dew’d,        40
Breathed the great lesson of his godlike teacher— 3
Martyr of freedom—him 4 of Syracuse—
The glorious fratricide, 5 the immortal Theban, 6
And their bright heritors of guiltless suffering,
Intrepid Algernon, and youthful Russell,—        45
Till the remembrance softens. Not in vain,
Oh! not in vain did the Athenians
Ally the arts to freedom, and invite
Blushing Pictura and her marble sister
Up the stern heights of the Acropolis.        50
So be it with our country. May she stand
Like thee, modell’d on wisdom of the past,
Yet with the lovely gracefulness of youth.
 
Note 1. John Everett, brother of the preceding, was born at Dorchester in 1801, and was graduated at Cambridge in 1818. He was a tutor in Transylvania university, and afterwards went to Europe in the suite of our minister to the Netherlands. Upon his return he studied law, and was admitted to the bar. He died in Boston, February 12th, 1826, at the age of 25. [back]
Note 2. Plato. [back]
Note 3. Socrates. [back]
Note 4. Dion. [back]
Note 5. Timoleon. [back]
Note 6. Epaminondas. [back]
 
 
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