Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Reflections of a Recluse
By John E. Hall
 
DAYS 1 of my youth, ah, whither have ye fled!
Moments of innocence, of health and joy,
Unruffled by the thoughts of worldly care,
With throbs of sad delight, how oft I sigh,
When Recollection paints thy scenes anew,        5
My steps ye led to halls where minstrels struck
The breathing lyre, to sing of Beauty’s charms,
Or chivalry’s heroic deeds.
      Not then, I pour’d
The melancholy song of memory;        10
No solitary tale my idle hours could tell
Of sorrow; Hope departed; or Despair.
My dulcet harp was strung to Rapture’s notes;
Its jocund strings re-echoed themes of love,
Or careless caroll’d what young joys could teach.        15
When twilight came, I sought the mountain’s brow,
To mark her solemn grandeur hastening near.
Then, ah! then, I woo’d the charms of silence,
Far from the pageant show of restless man,
The pomp of pride, the sneer of haughtiness:        20
Malice, with quivering lip, and knawing care:
Envy, that blasts the buds whose perfumed dyes
She fain would equal: green-eyed Jealousy:
And spectres of despair, whom memory brings
To haunt the slumbering dreams of guilty men,        25
Of these, yet ignorant and their powers unfelt,
I rioted in youth’s gay harvest,
And quaff’d the cup of roseate health and joy.
      But I am changed now!
If e’er I smile, ’t is as the flower of spring,        30
Whose tincture blooms through drops of morning dew!
And when the once loved charms of solitude
I woo, amid the valley’s silence,
Or on the high hill top, where thunders loud
Proclaim to man the majesty of God,        35
’T is not to bathe in dreams of shadowy bliss,
Or fondly dwell on scenes of wild romance:
To weave a sonnet for my mistress’ brow,
Or con an artless song to soothe her ear!
No cheerful thoughts like these entice my feet        40
Through tangled dells or o’er the mountain’s height.
Hopeless and sad in gloomy nooks retired,
I love to watch the slow revolving moon,
And muse on visions fled of treacherous love,
Of joys departed, and deceitful hopes:        45
Me now, no more the balmy breeze of spring,
Nor summer’s streamlets murm’ring through the grove,
Nor changeful winds that yellow autumn brings,
Can yield delight—stern winter’s joyless gloom
Suits with my bosom’s cold and cheerless state!        50
Life’s purple tide no more salubrious flows;
The vernal glow of hope is fled: and joy,
Shall glad no more my once contented cot:
False, fickle woman drove her smiles away.
  All hail, December’s chilling skies!        55
Come darken more the anguish of my soul.
Bring with thy gloomy hours despair’s sad shades—
Bring all the load that misery prepares,
To gall us through the miry road of life:
Bring silent sorrow with her bitter brow:        60
Bring lovely woman, with her syren smile,
Like transient meteor to seduce our steps:
Bring care, with self-consuming wants oppress’d,
And doubt, to lead us from our onward path,
And sharp solicitudes to vex our nights:        65
Let war, too, throw her lurid glare around,
And turn the savage from his hunter toils,
To raise the tomahawk and bend the bow.
In her funereal train attendant,
Let famine stalk, and, with insatiate hand,        70
Fell plunder, knowing neither friend nor foe,
And violence, to stain the soldier’s name.
Let bloody slaughter loose, to dye with gore
Our soil, and teach the world what evils wait
On madden’d counsels and ambitious schemes.        75
Accursed schemes! that saw no wrath denounced
On souls remorseless shedding human blood.
Detested plans! which bade the cymbals strike,
Roused the loud clarion, and made the cannon roar,
To drown the Saviour’s voice proclaiming loud,        80
To God on high be glory given: on earth,
Let peace among mankind for ever reign.
 
Note 1. Hall was born in Philadelphia. He was educated for the law, but turned his attention from that to literature, and became the editor of the Port Folio, after the death of Dennie. He was also the conductor of a law journal, and translated Emerigon. A variety of articles in prose and verse in the Port Folio, are from his pen. [back]
 
 
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