Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
To a Lady with a Withered Leaf
By William George Crosby (1806–1881)
 
WHAT 1 offering can the minstrel bring,
  To cast upon affection’s shrine?
’T was hard thy magic spell to fling
  O’er the fond heart already thine!
 
Thou wouldst not prize the glittering gem,        5
  Thou wouldst but cast the pearl away;
For thine is now a diadem,
  Of lustre brighter far than they.
 
I will not bring the spring-tide flower,
  Reposing on its gentle leaf;        10
Its memory lives but for an hour—
  I would not thine should be as brief.
 
My heart!—but that has long been thine—
  ’T were but a worthless offering;
The ruin of a rifled shrine,        15
  A flower that fast is withering.
 
My song!—’t is but a mournful strain,
  So deep in sorrow’s mantle clad,
E’en echo will not wake again
  The music of a strain so sad.        20
 
A wither’d leaf!—nay, scorn it not,
  Nor deem it all unworthy thee;
It grew upon a hallow’d spot,
  And sacred is its memory.
 
I pluck’d it from a lonely bough,        25
  That hung above my mother’s grave,
And felt, e’en then, that none but thou
  Could’st prize the gift affection gave.
 
She faded with the flowers of spring,
  That o’er her lifeless form were cast,—        30
And when I pluck’d this faded thing,
  ’T was shivering in the autumn blast.
 
’T was the last one!—all—all were gone,
  They bloom’d not where the yew trees wave;
This leaf and I were left alone,        35
  Pale watchers o’er my mother’s grave.
 
I mark’d it, when full oft I sought
  That spot so dear to memory;
I loved it—for I fondly thought,
  It linger’d there to mourn with me!        40
 
I ’ve moisten’d it with many a tear,
  I ’ve hallow’d it with many a prayer:
And while this bursting heart was clear
  From guilt’s dark stain, I shrined it there.
 
Now, lady, now the gift is thine!        45
  Oh, guard it with a vestal’s care;
Make but thine angel heart its shrine,
  And I will kneel and worship there!
 
Note 1. Crosby, a native of Belfast, Maine, is the author of Poetical Illustrations of the Atheneum Gallery, besides various other performances in verse [back]
 
 
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