Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Fragment
By Richard Penn Smith (1799–1854)
 
ART 1 thou a husband?—hast thou lost
  The partner of thy joys—thy woes;
Didst watch her when in anguish tost,
  And share the dire conflicting throes
Of agonized mortality,        5
  Till e’en to thee ’t was bliss to close
The last fond look of her glazed eye?
 
Art thou a father?—hath thy son,
  The prop of thy declining life,
Fail’d ere his manly race was run,        10
  And left thee to a world of strife?
Dost thou pursue in cold neglect
  The remnant of thy journey here;
No one thy frailties to protect,
  Or gray-hair’d sorrows to revere?        15
Is it denied thy stricken heart
  To gaze upon the face of one,
Who seem’d thy former counterpart,
  Recalling ages long since gone?
To see the follies that were thine        20
  When life ran frolic through each vein;
And thus, e’en in thy life’s decline
  To live the hours of youth again.
 
Art thou a lover?—is the theme
  Of all thy raptures torn from thee;        25
Hast broke the wild ecstatic dream
  And woke to actual agony?
The eyes where countless cupids play’d;
  The form as light as gossamer;
The neck where thy warm lips have stray’d—        30
  Say, does the grave worm fatten there?
 
If so, say, hast thou never known
  The joy of gazing on the sky
While nature sleeps, and you alone
  Seem roused to thought and misery.        35
Hast never watch’d the pallid moon,
  While resting on some sifted cloud,
Pure as the fretful ocean’s foam,
  And filmy as an angel’s shroud.
Gazed on her while her crescent pride        40
  Seem’d through a sea of pitch to float;
Then from the depth of darkness glide,
  And burst to view a fairy boat;
And shed her beams so strong and bright,
  That the globe seem’d a chrysolite?—        45
’T is heavenly at that hour to muse,
  When sleep is o’er the senses stealing,
And e’en to agony profuse,
  Indulge the luxury of feeling.
The features to recall of those,        50
Who moulder in their last repose;
To chase each image that may rise
In mockery before the eyes,
Until you catch the happy clue
  That brings to life the wonted smile,        55
And gives the cheek its roseate hue
  That moulders in decay the while;
Then dead to reason; dead to pain,
You dream an hour of bliss again.
 
Note 1. From a poem entitled Francesca, written before the author was aware that Leigh Hunt had preoccupied the subject. This circumstance induced him to withhold it from publication. [back]
 
 
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