Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Household Hours
By Sumner Lincoln Fairfield (1803–1844)
 
HOWE’ER 1 the sceptic scoffs, the poet sighs,
Hope oft reveals her dimly shadow’d dreams,
And seraph joy descends from pale blue skies,
And, like sweet sunset on wood-skirted streams,
Peace breathes around her stilling harmonies,        5
Her whisper’d music,—while her soft eye beams—
And the deep bliss, that crowns the household hearth,
From all its woes redeems the bleeding earth.
 
Like woods that shadow the blue mountain sky,
The troubled heart still seeks its home in heaven,        10
In those affections which can never die,
In hallowed love and human wrongs forgiven!
From the fair gardens of the blest on high
The fruit of life is yet to lost man given,
And ’mid the quiet of his still abode        15
Spirits attend him from the throne of God.
 
The mild deep gentleness, the smile that throws
Light from the bosom o’er the high pale brow,
And cheek that flushes like the May-morn rose;
The all-reposing sympathies, that glow        20
Like violets in the heart, and o’er our woes
The silent breathing of their beauty throw—
Oh! every deed of daily life doth prove
The depth, the strength, the truth of woman’s love!
 
When harvest days are pass’d, and autumn skies        25
The giant forests tinge with glorious hues,
How o’er the twilight of our thought sweet eyes
The fairy beauty of the soul diffuse!
The inspiring air like spirit voices sighs
’Mid the close pines and solitary yews,        30
Though the broad leaves on forest boughs look sere,
And naked woodlands wail the dying year.
 
Yet the late season brings no hours of gloom,
Though thoughtful sadness sighs her evening hymn,
For hearth-fires now light up the curtain’d room,        35
And love’s wings float amid the twilight dim;
Lost loved ones gather round us from the tomb,
And blest revealments o’er our spirits swim,
And Hopes, that droop’d in trials, soar on high,
And link’d affections bear into the sky.        40
 
Then, side by side, hearts, wedded in their youth,
In their meek blessedness expand and glow,
And, though the world be faithless, still their truth
No pause, no change, no soil of time may know!
They hold communion with the world, in sooth,        45
Beyond the stain of sin, the waste of wo,
And the deep sanctities of well-spent hours
Crown their fair fame with Eden’s deathless flowers.
 
Frail as the moth’s fair wing is common fame,
Brief as the sunlight of an April morn;        50
But love perpetuates the sacred name
Devoted to his shrine; in glory born,
The boy-god gladly to the lone earth came
To vanquish victors and to smile at scorn,
And he will rise, when all is finish’d here,        55
The holiest seraph of the highest sphere.
 
As fell the prophet’s mantle, in old time,
On the meek heir of Israel’s sainted sage,
Woman! so falls thy unseen power sublime
On the lone desert of man’s pilgrimage;        60
Thy sweet thoughts breathe, from love’s delicious clime,
Beauty in youth, and faith in fading age;
Through all earth’s years of travail, strife and toil,
His parch’d affections linger round thy smile.
 
In the young beauty of thy womanhood        65
Thou livest in the being yet to be,
Yearning for blessedness ill understood,
And known, young mother! only unto thee.
Love is her life; and to the wise and good
Her heart is heaven—’t is even unto me,        70
Though oft misguided and betrayed and grieved,
The only bliss of which I ’m not bereaved.
 
Draw near, ye whom my bosom hath enshrined!
O Thou! whose life breathes in my heart! and Thou
Whose gentle spirit dwelleth in my mind,        75
Whose love, like sunlight, rests upon thy brow!
Draw near the hearth! the cold and moaning wind
Scatters the ruins of the forest now,
But blessings crown us in our own still home—
Hail, holy image of the life to come!        80
 
Hail, ye fair charities! the mellow showers
Of the earth’s springtime! from your rosy breath
The way-worn pilgrim, though the tempest lowers,
Breathes a new being in the realm of death,
And bears the burden of life’s darker hours        85
With cheerlier aspect o’er the lonely heath,
That spreads between us and the unfading clime
Where true Love triumphs o’er the death of Time.
 
Note 1. Fairfield is author of The Sisters of St Clara, The Lay of Melpomene, Mina, and The Cities of The Plain. He is a native of Massachusetts, and now a resident of Philadelphia. Mr Fairfield has been the subject of considerable notice in many of the newspapers, but with the particulars of his life we are not acquainted. He is a poet of talent. [back]
 
 
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