Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Herdsman’s Grave
By Frederic Mellen
 
HE sleeps beneath the larch tree’s shade;
And kindly hands his cairn have made
Far up among the sunny hills,
Beside his own pure mountain rills;
Whose music, when the summer day        5
From the deep glens had pass’d away,
And from the far down village tower
The bell toll’d out the evening hour,
Would murmur round his moss-wreathed bed,
Its simple requiem o’er the dead.        10
 
It is a lonely grave—and here,
When the still summer eve draws near,
The eagle folds his dusky wing,
To list the storm’s deep muttering
Far down among the mountain vales;        15
While o’er that verdant spot, the gales
Of evening stir the dark old pines;
And o’er the cloud’s embattled lines,
The sun pours forth his last bright smile,
As if to bless that mouldering pile.        20
 
Long years have sped upon their flight,
And many a dark and weary night,
The cold rain-drops, with sullen dash,
Have swept the larch and mountain ash,
Since the first flow’rets bloom’d around,        25
The margin of that little mound.
 
It was a summer day—the bells,
From the deep mountain gorge and dells,
Were chiming on the morning breeze;
And ’neath the dark o’erhanging trees,        30
The muleteer sung on his way
Chanting his blithesome roundelay.
No tears were shed—no mutter’d prayer
Stole upward through the stilly air;
No flowers were strown—the mountain stream        35
Murmur’d his only requiem!
 
But when his native hills are bright
In the calm smile of summer’s light;
And all the lowland woods are green,
By that lone grave sweet flowers are seen;        40
And travellers pause upon their way,
To list the birds’ sad minstrelsy
From that old larch, and breathe a prayer,
For him who rests in silence there.
 
 
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