Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
On a Sprig of Juniper, from the Tomb of Washington, Presented to the Author
By Samuel Bartlett Parris (1806–1827)
 
  THE MEADOW 1 may boast of its thousand dyes,
For their varied splendors are far before thee;
  But still more fair in the patriot’s eyes
Is the humblest branch from the trunk that bore thee;
For the place where it grows is a sacred spot,        5
With remembrance of high achievements fraught.
 
  Thou didst not thrive on the blood of the slave,
Whom the reeking sword of oppression slaughter’d;
  But the grateful tears of the good and brave,
With a purer stream thy roots have water’d—        10
And green didst thou grow o’er the hero’s bed,
When the tears of his patriot son 2 were shed.
 
  Say, where wert thou half an age ago,
When terrors were thronging around our nation—
  Where our land, by the word of its haughty foe,        15
Was mark’d with the sentence of desolation—
When the banner of freedom was wide unfurl’d
On the natal day of this western world—
 
  When our fathers spared no pain nor toil,
To purchase the blessing for their descendants,        20
  And seal’d with their blood on their native soil
Their claim to the glory of Independence—
When Life, Wealth, Honor, were all at stake
That the holy cause they would not forsake.
 
  Perhaps thou wast by the side of thy sire,        25
Whose branch to the breeze had for ages trembled,
  Where gather’d around the council-fire
The chiefs of the tawny tribes assembled,—
Or it might have shaded the hunter’s track
On the lonely banks of the Potomac.        30
 
  And long on the place of the hero’s sleep
May flourish the trunk, whence thou wert taken,
  But a grateful nation his name shall keep,
When lifeless and bare, of its leaves forsaken,
The trunk and the branch to the earth are cast        35
Before the might of the rushing blast.
 
  For in distant ages the day shall come,
When the vengeance of time its pride shall humble—
  And the arch of the proud mausoleum
O’er the mouldering urn of the dead shall crumble—        40
But till the last moment of time hath run
Shall live the remembrance of Washington.
 
  Ah! soon must branches like thine be spread
O’er another’s tomb—and o’er yet another’s—
  For now from the sorrows of earth have fled,        45
As with one accord, two patriot brothers, 3
Whom heaven in mercy hath given to see
The day of their nation’s Jubilee.
 
  O! sadly, in tears sunk down, that day,
The sun, in the distant west declining—        50
  But still in a holier splendor they
With their latest beams on earth were shining,
When they were call’d from earth to remove,
And shine in the realms of the blest above.
 
Note 1. Parris was the son of the Rev. Martin Parris of Mansfield, and was born at Kingston, Massachusetts, January 30th, 1806. He received his early education from his father, and exhibited a most extraordinary and precocious aptitude for learning. He began the study of languages at the age of six. At ten years of age he was examined for admission to college, and the professors held him in their arms while he construed Virgil, Cicero, and the Greek Testament. He was pronounced fit for admission, but on account of his youth he returned home and did not enter the university for two years. He was graduated at the age of fifteen, and entered upon the study of medicine the year after. He received a medical degree in 1825, and began his practice at Attleborough in Massachusetts. He died September 21st, 1827, at the age of 31. A collection of his writings in verse and prose was published a few months since. [back]
Note 2. This was written soon after La Fayette visited the tomb of Washington. [back]
Note 3. Adams and Jefferson. [back]
 
 
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