Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
The Pride of the Village
By I. M’Lellan
 
THIS 1 grassy hillock, with its rustic urn,
And its light hedge of snowy roses, train’d
By some sweet hand, is the abiding place
Of one most beautiful. A sweeter child
Than this frail tenant of the churchyard cell,        5
You would not meet through all the village round.
She perish’d in the heyday of her life,
Ere yet the frosts of trouble or of care
Had chill’d the gentle freshness of her youth.
She was of all the rural feasts the queen—        10
The merriest when the dance wheel’d round the tree
At summer eventide, or when it swept
The hearth-stone of the jocund husbandman,
In winter’s chilly and tempestuous night.
Oh! there is not a happy bird that fills        15
The open valley with her sylvan song,
When night is darkening all the golden woods,
That might surpass the compass of her voice
In its deep, delicate richness! In the grave
She sleepeth now, where everything is mute!        20
Long shall the poor man, and the aged dame,
And orphan child, remember her sweet smile
And her benignant acts; for well she loved
To minister unto the broken heart,
And help the poor blind beggar on his way,        25
And succor him with travel sore athirst,
And shelter, from the rain and wintry hail,
The man that had not where to lay his head;
And ever there the grateful traveller bless’d
That sweet, young face, that smiled his gloom away,        30
And woke the song of gladness in his heart.
And here her lover rests!
                  Beneath yon ridge,
Whereon the weeds grow rank, is hid the dust,
The plume, the bloody sword, the spur, and scarf        35
Of one who fought for fame, and found it not.
He was a wild and reckless, wayward boy,
The leader of the noisy village troop
In all their careless sports—one stout of heart
And strong of hand, and foremost in the rush        40
Of boyish battle. Yet his fiery soul
Would melt when Sorrow told her wretched tale,
Or Pain the gloomy history of her grief,
Or Age her melancholy words.
                    The youth        45
Had pledged his honest love to that meek girl,
And in the innocent fondness of her heart,
She bless’d him with her love.
                    But time wore on,
And he had heard the savage trump of war        50
Sound in the peaceful vale, and heard the tramp
And neighing of the charger, and the clang
Of martial arms, and shouts of armed men,
And saw the gairish flag of battle float
Beside the cottage of his infancy.        55
He clothed him in the garb of strife, and placed
Its sword upon his thigh, and search’d for fame
“E’en at the cannon’s mouth.”
                And he came back
A bruised, and sick, and broken-hearted man,        60
To linger out his few sad days on earth
And die, and be at rest;—and by his side
They placed that bruised reed that leant on him.
“After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.”
 
Note 1. M’Lellan, of Boston, was graduated at Bowdoin College, in 1826, and is now a student at law. His poetry has appeared in various periodicals. [back]
 
 
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