1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John G. C. Brainard

Lydia Huntley Sigourney, "To the Memory of J. G. C. Brainard" Connecticut Mirror (5 September 1829).



I roved where Thames old ocean's breast doth cheer,
Pouring from crystal urn the waters sheen,
What time dim Twilight's silent step was near,
And gathering dews impearled the margin green;
Yet though mild Autumn, with a smile serene,
Had gently fostered Summer's lingering bloom,
Methought strange sadness brooded o'er the scene,
While the deep river, murmuring on in gloom,
Mourned o'er its sweetest bard laid early in the tomb.

His soul for friendship formed, sublime, sincere,
Of each ungenerous deed his high disdain
Perchance the world might scan with eye severe;
Perchance his harp her guerdon failed to gain;
But Nature guards his fame, for not in vain
He sang her shady dells, and mountains hoar—
King Philip's swelling bay repeats his strain
To its lone tower, and with eternal roar
Niagara bears it round to the wide-echoing shore.

Each sylvan haunt he loved — the simplest flower
That bears heaven's incense in its bosom fair,
The crested billow, with its fitful power,
The chirping nest that wooed a mother's care,
All woke his worship, as some altar rare,
Or sainted shrine doth win the pilgrim's knee;
And he hath gone to rest where earth and air
Lavish their sweetest charms, while proud and free
Sounds forth the wind-swept harp of his own native sea.

His country's brave defenders, few and gray,
By penury stricken, with despairing sighs,
He sang; and boldly woke a warning lay
Lest from their grave a withering curse should rise;
Now near his bed, on which the peaceful sky
And watching stars look down, on Groton's height,
Their monument attracts the traveller's eye,
Whose souls unshrinking took their martyr-flight
Where Arnold's traitor-sword flashed out in fiendish light.

Youth, with gay step and liberal hand, had sown
Fresh germs of hope to cluster round his head.
Those blossoms withered, and he stood alone,
Till on his cheek the blushing hectic fed,
And o'er his manly brow cold death-dews spread;
Then on his soul a quenchless star arose,
Whose holy beams their purest lustre shed
When the sealed eye to its last pillow goes;
He followed where it led, and found a saint's repose.

And now farewell. The rippling stream shall hear
No more the echo of thy sportive oar,
Nor the loved group thy father's halls that cheer,
Joy in the magic of thy presence more;
Long shall their tears thy broken harp deplore,
Yet doth thine image, warm and deathless, dwell
With those who prize the minstrel's hallowed lore,
And still thy music, like a treasured spell,
Thrills deep within their souls. Lamented bard, farewell.