1830
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Brandywine.

The Atlantic Souvenir for MDCCCXXXI.

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler


Eleven Spenserians by a Philadelphia Quaker poet. Margaret Chandler's themes are those of Thomas Campbell's Gertrude of Wyoming, though the first two stanzas seem to recall Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey. The first half of the poem recalls the peaceful relations between Pennsylvania European settlers and its native population (carefully cultivated by William Penn), which is contrasted in the second half with the internecine violence of the Revolutionary War. The tenth stanza alludes to the relics of war turned over by the plow in Virgil's Georgics: "No vestige of the battle may be traced, | Save where the share, in passing o'er the scene, | Turns up some rusted ball; the maize is green | On what was once the death bed of the brave" p. 157. Compare Fitzgreene Halleck's Spenserians in "Wyoming" (1821).

Ladies' Magazine [Boston]: "The Token is 'strictly national;' Mr. Goodrich has determined 'to depend entirely upon the resources of our country, for the engravings and the literary contents of the work.' It is a beautiful book, and American ladies will look with peculiar favor upon this fair specimen of genius and taste to which female talent has contributed its full share of excellence and interest. The Atlantic Souvenir, and Pearl, are also tastefully executed, and do credit to the city of Penn. By the way, is not the name of its founder indicative of its literary pre-eminence? The 'pen' is to be the sceptre of the nations. We should like to give many extracts from these works, and commendations of individual writers. There is much to praise; but Christmas and New Year are approaching, when the books will doubtless be in the possession of all our fair young readers, and they can select the beautiful passages for their own amusement with the delight which original researches and discoveries impart. Therefore we will not intrude our opinion" 3 (December 1830) 572.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Elizabeth M. Chandler, 1807-1834, a native of Delaware. Poetical Works and Essays, with a Memoiral of her Life and Character, Philadelphia 1836. Many of Miss C.'s Essays are of a philanthropic character" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:366.



My foot has climb'd the rocky summit's height,
And in mute rapture from its lofty brow
Mine eye is gazing round me with delight,
On all of beautiful, above, below:
The fleecy smoke-wreath upward curling slow,
The silvery waves half hid with bowering green,
That far beneath in gentle murmurs flow,
Or onward dash in foam or sparkling sheen,—
While rocks and forest boughs hide half the distant scene.

In sooth, from this bright wilderness, 'tis sweet
To look through loop-holes form'd by forest boughs,
And view the landscape far beneath the feet,
Where cultivation all its aid bestows,
And o'er the scene an added beauty throws;
The busy harvest group, the distant mill,
The quiet cattle stretch'd in calm repose,
The cot, half seen behind the sloping hill,—
All mingled in one scene with most enchanting skill.

The very air that breathes around my cheek,
The summer fragrance of my native hills,
Seems with the voice of other times to speak,
And, while it each unquiet feeling stills,
My pensive soul with hallow'd memories fills:
My fathers' hall is there, their feet have press'd
The flower-gemm'd margin of these gushing rills,
When lightly on the water's dimpled breast,
Their own light bark beside the frail canoe would rest.

The rock was once your dwelling place, my sires!
Or cavern scoop'd within the green hill's side;
The prowling wolf fled far your beacon fires,
And the kind Indian half your wants supplied;
While round your necks the wampum-belt he tied,
And joining fast with yours the friendly hand,
He bade you on his lands in peace abide,
Nor dread the wakening of the midnight brand,
Or aught of broken faith to loose the peace-belt's band.

Oh! if there is in beautiful and fair
A potency to charm, a power to bless;
If bright blue skies and music-breathing air,
And nature in her every varied dress
Of peaceful beauty and wild loveliness,
Can shed across the heart one sunshine ray,
Then others, too, sweet stream, with only less
Than mine own joy, shall gaze, and bear away
Some cherished thought of thee, for many a coming day.

But yet not utterly obscure thy banks,
Nor all unknown to history's page thy name;
For there wild war hath pour'd his battle ranks,
And stamp'd in characters of blood and flame,
Thine annals in the chronicles of fame.
The wave, that ripples on so calm and still
Hath trembled at the war-cry's loud acclaim,
The cannon's voice hath roll'd from hill to hill,
And 'midst thy echoing vales the trump hath sounded shrill.

My country's standard waved on yonder height,
Her red cross banner England there display'd,
And there the German, who, far foreign fight,
Had left his own domestic hearth, and made
War, with its horrors and its blood, a trade,
Amidst the battle stood; and all the day,
The bursting bomb, the furious cannonade,
The bugle's martial notes, the musket's play,
In mingled uproar wild resounded far away.

Thick clouds of smoke obscured the clear bright sky,
And hung above them like a funeral pall,
Shrouding both friend and foe, so soon to lie
Like brethren slumbering in one father's hall.
The work of death went on, and when the fall
Of night came onward silently, and shed
A dreary hush, where late was uproar all,
How many a brother's heart in anguish bled
O'er cherished ones, who there lay resting with the dead.

Unshrouded and uncoffin'd, they were laid
Within the soldier's grave, e'en where they fell;
At noon they proudly trod the field — the spade
At night dug out their resting place, and well
And calmly did they slumber, though no bell
Peal'd over them its solemn music slow;
The night winds sung their only dirge, their knell
Was but the owlet's boding cry of wo,
The flap of night hawk's wing and murmuring water's flow.

But it is over now, the plough hath rased
All trace of where war's wasting hand hath been:
No vestige of the battle may be traced,
Save where the share, in passing o'er the scene,
Turns up some rusted ball; the maize is green
On what was once the death bed of the brave;
The waters have resumed their wonted sheen,
The wild bird sings in cadence with the wave,
And nought remains to show the sleeping soldier's grave.

A pebble stone that on the war-field lay,
And a wild rose that blossom'd brightly there,
Were all the relics that I bore away,
To tell that I had trod the scene of war,
When I had turn'd my footsteps homeward far—
These may seem childish things to some; to me
They shall be treasured ones, and, like the star
That guides the sailor o'er the pathless sea,
They shall lead back my thoughts, loved Brandywine, to thee.

[pp. 153-57]