Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Fay
By James A. Jones (1791–1854)
 
“I LAUGH to think thou wilt compare
Thy mountain with our lowland air;
Thy barren rocks, and leafless pines
To blossom’d trees, and laden vines;
  Thy crags, where nought but eagles dwell,        5
  To shady groves where thrushes twitter;
Thy bowers unsought of those who tell
  Soft secrets when the moonbeams glitter.
Seest thou yon curling cloud of mist,
  A rural dwelling half concealing?        10
There lives one, innocently kiss’d
  Of lips whose sweets are past revealing—
A gentle girl who gave her hand
  To a poor youth, and ne’er repines
For the proud palace, and broad land,        15
  But finds love richer than the mines.
 
Thou canst not have the warbling rill,
The village spire, and mossy mill,
And hoary oaks, and nodding firs,
And aspin with a breath that stirs;        20
And lowing herds and fleecy flocks
Are strangers to thy clime of rocks.”
 
I heard the Spirit of mid air
  Say to this little lowland Fay,
“Your hills are green, and valleys fair,        25
  Your rivers gently well away;
But meads and valleys lovelier glow,
And gentler seems the river’s flow,
  Seen from the mountains high.
Oh! could you see beyond the girth        30
Which circumscribes this narrow earth,
  What splendors for your eye!
 
From eve to morn we nothing do
But gaze upon the realms of blue
  And wonder at the sky;        35
While the bright stars of endless spheres
Measure the rapid dance of years.
 
“We have the sunbeams while ye lay
  In darkness in the vale below;
We see proud navies plough their way        40
  Along the deep in paths of snow.
The clime of hoary rocks our choice,
Companioned with the thunder’s voice,
  The lightning, and the bow.
Nature’s sublimity’s aloft,        45
  Her littleness below.
Ye have the delicate and soft,
  But we the goodlier show.
 
“When o’er yon lowland fell disease
  Breathes his stern curse, and thousands fall;        50
When with a broken heart ye wreathe
  The bridal favor with the pall,
Then come the shuddering crowd away
  From the green vales ye praise so high,
And seek, amidst my turrets gray,        55
A healthful and salubrious sky.
 
“We are the keepers of the free,
  Who shun the lands which tyrants sway.
He who would keep unbent his knee
  To such, should in the mountains stay.        60
He well deserves a realm of rocks;
We give it him, the crag that blocks
  The despot’s feet away—
And he, redeem’d from slavery thus,
Shall live and feel like one of us.”        65
 
 
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