1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John G. C. Brainard

Willis Gaylord Clark, "Stanzas to the Memory of John G. C. Brainard" Philadelphia Album 3 (8 April 1829) 360.



Peace to the slumberer! — On his wasting breast
The dull, cold earth, in mournful stillness lies;—
Gathered in dust, to take his last deep rest,
With dreamless silence on his shadowed eyes!
Lost, as a song, in Spring's rejoicing hour,
Whose cadence sweetens the blue atmosphere;—
But of a heavenly tree — immortal flower
Won from life's desert; — why should it be here?

His thoughts were holy; and like founts that bring
Music and freshness in their quiet strain—
Thus his rapt fancy plumed her radiant wing,
And gathered bliss from Nature's wide domain!
Then flowed his numbers — as the pure buds shed
Delicious odor through the Summer glen;
Calm was their influence — in bright pictures spread,
Cheering the heart, and winning praise of men.

Peace to the sleeper! — o'er his silent lyre
The autumnal gale at evening-tide goes by;—
Where rests the hand that swept its strings of fire,
And with its murmurs roused the smile or sigh?
Ask of the fresh earth on his gloomy pall,
Where are the raptures of his bosom now?
What reck the leaves of honor's coronal?
Ask the wind's requiem in the cypress bough!

Let the sad mourner, as his glance is cast
In sorrow's mute, imploring gaze, to heaven,
Weep not, that Genius to a rest hath passed—
That to the weary, a repose is given!
Why should the fount pour out its richness here,
In the dim vista of this vale of tears;
Or grief look back upon joy's brief career,
Through the chill labyrinth of life's faded years?

The Spring hath found him in its morning hour,
Musing in rapture by the upland side;
Gleaning sweet feelings from the early flower,
Or drinking pleasure by the blue stream's tide
Young leaves — the gladness of the sapphire sky,
Where the pure clouds unfold the quiet wing—
How woke they in his soul calm poetry,
Enthusiast thought, and rich imagining!

Summer, the tempter! — oft her scenes have won
His wilting footstep from the hearth away,
To mark the splendors of her golden sun,
To list the wild-bird's halcyon roundelay!
And when sad autumn tinged the hill and vale,
And dark clouds palled the melancholy west,
What pensive pictures lingered in his tale
Of the dead season as it sunk to rest?

Dust hath caressed him! — and his languid eye
Is folded deeply in the voiceless tomb;
What, though blithe tones may fill the azure sky,
And garnished Nature laugh in early bloom?
The stream will murmur by its flowery shore;
From the blue mountain, Spring's sweet voice will come—
Wake they the slumberer, whose dream is o'er—
The wearied pilgrim, who hath found his home?

Summer, with songs, will come; the breezy hill
To the gay carol of her birds will ring;—
There will be sun-light poured on fount and rill,
And countless blossoms from the dust will spring;
The lake's clear wave will glance, the gale will sweep
Aeolian murmurs in its wandering free;
A glow of joy will bathe the land — the deep—
But to the poet, what will these things be?

His dream hath vanished — in life's changeful hour
His lyre was breathing as he passed along,
To love, to nature, with her hallowed power
Her faded leaves, earth's solitudes among!
Will love's tone rouse him to renew his lay,
Or Summer's cloud, or blue depth of the sky?
Will Nature's voice dissolve the spell away,
Or kindle fire within that deep-sealed eye?

Look o'er the desolate earth! — the plaintive gale
Hurls the red leaf upon the fountain's breast;—
Tones from the forest tell of roses pale—
Of yellow buds returning unto rest!
Yet will the flowers again arise from dust,
And brightening skies o'er the green earth be given,—
Then let the soul resign, with humble trust,
The Friend, the Bard, in hope, to God and Heaven!