1822
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lines suggested by a late Occurence.

Connecticut Mirror (3 April 1822).

John G. C. Brainard


Three unsigned Spenserians "communicated for the Mirror" on a tragic event in Connecticut. This poem, later titled "Lines suggested by a melancholy Accident" was suppressed in both the later collections of Brainard's verse.

Headnote: "On Thursday, the 21st of February, 1823, in the middle of the day, as the mail stage from Hartford to New-Haven, with three passengers, was crossing the bridge at the foot of the hill near Durham, the bridge was carried away by the ice, and the stage was precipitated down a chasm of twenty feet. Two of the passengers were drowned: one of them had been long from home, and was on his way to see his friends. This occurrence is mentioned as explanatory of the following lines" Occasional Pieces of Poetry (1825) 25.

Atlantic Magazine: "The three stanzas 'suggested by a melancholy accident,' are so strongly conceived, so skillfully managed, and so stridently expressed, that after several attempts to exclude them from our limits, we have at last been compelled to let them in" 2 (April 1825) 452.

Jared Sparks: "He seldom aims at more than he can accomplish; the chief misfortune with him is, that he should be contented sometimes to accomplish so little, and this little in so imperfect a manner. That he possesses much of the genuine spirit and power of poetry, no one can doubt, who reads some of the pieces in this volume, yet there are others, which, if not absolutely below mediocrity, would never be suspected of coming from a soil, that had been watered with Castalian dews. They might pass off very well as exercises in rhyme of an incipient poet, the first efforts t pluming the wing for a bolder flight, and they might hold for a day an honorable place in the corner of a gazette, but to a higher service, or more conspicuous station, they could not wisely be called. In short, if we take all the author's compositions in this volume together, nothing is more remarkable concerning them than their inequality; the high poetical beauty and strength, both in though and language, of some parts, and the want of good taste and extreme negligence of others" North American Review 21 (July 1825) 218.



"How slow we drive — but yet the hour will come
When friends shall greet me with affection's kiss—
When seated at my boyhood's happy home,
I shall enjoy that mild contented bliss,
Not often met with in a world like this;
Then I shall see that brother — youngest born,
I used to play with in my sportiveness,
And from a mother's silence I shall learn
A parent's thanks to God — for a lov'd son's return.

"And there is one, who, with a down-cast eye,
Will be the last to welcome me — but yet
My memory tells me of a parting sigh,
And of a cheek with tears of sorrow wet,
And how she bade me never to forget
A friend — and blush'd. — And I shall see again
The look of kindness, as when last we met
And parted? — Tell me then that life is vain:
That joy, if met with once, is seldom met again."

———*———*———*———*———*———

—see ye not the falling, fallen mass!
Hark! hear ye not the drowning swimmer's cry?
Look on the ruins of the desperate pass;
Gaze at the hurried ice that rushes by,
Bearing a freight of wo and agony
To that last harour, where we all must go.
Resistless as the stormy clouds that fly
Above our reach, is that dark stream below—
Like time, it knows no ebb, till it has ceas'd to flow.

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