Poems 26–50

 
 

26 The Year Gone By

In spite of all the watchfulness
Of interested multitudes—
In spite of all the pictured bliss
Which fancy’s liberal hand intrudes—
Advancing onward day by day,         5
As light aerial coursers fly,
The hasty year has roll’d away
With hurried motion: Why?

It hurried on, to hide its guilty head,
By mingling with the blood-stained years that lie         10
In huddled heaps beyond the flood: it fled,
Afraid to wait the test of scrutiny.

What was its crime? Its reckless hand was raised
To tear from Freedom’s wreath the holiest gem;
It aimed to have humanity displaced,         15
And bind oppression on her diadem!

The year is gone: But hark! a sound
Is heard along the southern sky;
An evil spirit lurks around—
Ghost of the year gone by!         20

Beware, foul shade! a time will come,
When all the dead must reappear;
Then Justice will award the doom
Of each departed year!

published in Ohio Star, 24 March 1831

 

27 The Widowed Mother
Inscribed to Miss __________

Her bosom heaved a deeper sigh—
Her bitter tears in torrents fell—
Her babe was sleeping on her arms,
Nor felt, nor feared, but all was well.

The secret bitterness she felt,         5
Whene’er her sorrows grew so wild,
None knew, save He to whom she knelt
To ask protection for her child.

“I’ve known,” she said, “a mother’s joy,
I’ve felt a mother’s tenderness;         10
Mine is a widowed mother’s grief—
My little babe is fatherless!

The looks of this cold-hearted world,
I have not courage to endure!
But O! it rends my bleeding heart,         15
To think my babe is insecure.

Weak as defenceless woman is,
I never felt unsafe before!
Who will protect thy innocence?
My babe, thy father is no more!         20

But there is One with piteous ear,
Who feeds the ravens when they cry;
He’ll succor thee: O, never fear;
Thou hast a friend that will not die.

Then suffer not thy mother’s grief         25
To interrupt thy sweet repose:
To Him, whose eye commands relief,
I should surrender all my woes.”

Then, with an aspect which expressed
A troubled heart half reconciled,         30
She clasped her infant to her breast,
And said, “My Father! bless my child.”

published in Ohio Star, 31 March 1831

 

28 The Thoughts of Home

O, is there aught, so gently strange, by stoic reason taught,
With such soft contrarieties, of pain and pleasure fraught—
Where without contradiction, the bitter and the sweet,
With such surprizing placidness, in combination meet—
Where the extremely opposites, of joy and sorrow come,         5
Commingling so harmoniously, as in the thoughts of home?

The thoughts of home—how strangely dear!
For there affection looks sincere,
And hope will sing, in spite of fear,
And transports gladden with a tear.         10

Sweet tones of pensive playfulness, roll thro’ each blissful lay;
Much like the blush of evening amid the blaze of day;
And these so indescribably—they only know who feel
The magic of its soft embrace, across the bosom steal:
And none but stranger hearts can feel—and only they that roam         15
Can know the sober ecstacies, that swell the thoughts of home.

The thoughts of home! ah who can tell,
The charming music of the spell,
When mem’ry bids the chorus swell,
Which sad reflection loves so well?         20

When busy day retiring—withdraws her radiant eye,
And scenes of wild confusedness, in still composure lie;
When nature’s arms are folded upon her slumbering breast,
With all her rural gaieties, in sullen sadness drest—
O! then the stranger’s inmost soul, exults to meet the gloom,         25
And feed its fond affection on the cordial thoughts of home.

For then the thoughts of home are prest
With warmest ardor to the breast,
When recollection’s golden crest
In night’s soft shadowy form is drest.

published in Ohio Star, 28 July 1831

 

29 Home, Charming Sound

Home, charming sound—the name is sweet:
O what, on earth is half so dear?
At home the social feelings meet—
The kind affections center here.

When borne aloof on fortune’s wings—         5
When seas and empires lie between;
On home fond recollection clings,
Recalling many a pleasing scene.

Whether the humble rural cot—
The village cell or City dome—         10
Or rich or poor, it matters not—
’Tis all the same, if ’tis a home.

But ah! there’s oft a gilded dome
Where peace and happiness ne’er came;
More like a prison than a home,         15
And should not bear the boasted name.

If all abroad were noise and strife—
Though men to man a foe become;
Still, peace should crown domestic life,
And happiness be found at home.         20

When subtle envy swells the tide
And storms of clashing int’rest beat;
Home, earth’s Elysium, friendship’s pride
Is virtue’s only safe retreat.

n.d.

 

30 Lines Addressed to
a Young Female Friend

How lovely are the blossoms
Which deck the crest of May;
All Flora’s train is beautiful,
But destin’d to decay.
Thy bloom of youth and beauty,         5
Beneath life’s summer sky,
Will fade, as from the vernal flowers
The fairest colors fly.

But there is one attraction
That triumphs over time—         10
O’er summer’s heat and autumn’s frost
And winter’s gelid clime:
One beauty never fading—
A blossom of the mind—
The charm of sweet intelligence         15
By virtue’s touch refined.

It spreads the purest fragrance,
And all its graces join,
When round the youthful maiden brow
Its mildest colors shine:         20
And O, it is Religion,
Exhales the spicy breath,
Which wafts the floweret bright and fair
Beyond the vale of death!

published in Ohio Star, 11 August 1831

 

31 Arrival of the First Colony
in Charlestown, Massachusetts

The historical accounts of the early settlements of America, seem little else than catalogues of fatigue, deprivation and distress. The colony under Gov. Winthrop, arrived at Charlestown, Mass. in the summer of 1630: in the following winter they were visited with a “mortal pestilence, and wasting famine”; they were relieved from the sufferings of the latter by the arrival of a ship laden with provision, on the 5th of Feb.

That surely was a trying day—
A time that tells of human grief!

Then the stout heart of courage fell away,
And every eye turned upward for relief:

And there was no sound, like the voice of glee, 5
For the maiden’s bosom heaved fearfully,
And the young man wept, and his voice was low,
And there was no sound but the sound of woe;
And a stiffening corse the father lay,

And none could repeat his parting word; 10
For the mother’s spirit had swooned away,

And the infant was left to weep unheard;
And the plague moved on
With a fearful breath;

Till the pious brave in hordes had gone, 15
To people the dark cold land of death.

They left their homes and braved the sea
In search of sacred liberty;
But scarcely o’er the tossing wave,
Before they found 20
Upon the red man’s hunting ground
In the new world, a grave!
But to the sufferers death seemed kind,
As dear as life, itself may be,
For unto those that staid behind 25

Famine renewed the cup of misery!
Nature will never be denied—
Her wants though few must be supplied;
The pilgrims felt her stern demand
In winter, on a stranger land. 30

’Twas a generous price—all ills to endure,
That their children’s children might dwell secure;
But their hearts were brave and they murmured not
At the troublous scenes of their own hard lot;
And they chased from the eye the tears that come 35
At thought of the land they had called their home.

Look there! a ship is just at hand,
An English sail from Europe’s land!
Then gladness beamed in every eye,
The children danced, they knew not why; 40
The mother kissed her laughing boy—
It was a scene of frantic joy.

published in Ohio Star, 13 October 1831

 

32 A Fragment
[The Hopes of Heaven]

The hopes of heaven, beguile life’s chequer’d way,
And light us onward to the world on high.

Go, follow to yon humble cottage him
Whose early matin is primeval with
Day’s dawn; and who is seen from morn till night, 5
In cheerful toil beneath yon brow-beat hill.
Misfortune met him at his birth, and crown’d
Him hers, and he had no alternative,
And more than twice ten summer’s suns had roll’d
Around, when all he knew of choice, was just 10
To mould and shape his will to the bare form
Of cold necessity. He wept sometimes,
But when his spirit was more resolute,
He would impugn high heaven, and curse his lot.
Meantime he toil’d and struggled hard, just to 15
Preserve his head from crushing under the
Low, torturing wheel of cold adversity!

There is a light which has been known to shine
Upon the darkest path: It shone on his,
And he is happy now, as from between 20
The leaves of the supernal volume, he
Draws his rich treasures out; and cautiously
He searches there, lest some kind promise, he
Might fail to fix a timely claim upon.
But the rough hand of this world’s poverty 25
Lies on him yet; but all its heaviness
Is vanished, and ’tis no burthen now;
And all the multitude of little cares
That throng’d his path, and teas’d and vex’d him so,
Surround him still; but they are dispossess’d 30
Of that morose and peevish insolence,
And seem quite harmless and dispassionate.
Now every form looks beautiful to him,
And every sound is full of melody.

Go to that sick one’s couch, whose steadfast faith, 35
Reposing on the everlasting word
Of Him that cannot lie, has waken’d in
Her bosom, the pure flame of heavenly hope.
Step softly o’er the carpet; let not a
Harsh sound disturb the quietude of the 40
Frail tenement, which has by long disease
Contracted close affinity with the
Unsocial land of silence: Go up now
Stilly to the bedside, and gently o’er
The pillow bend, and listen silently, 45
And catch the high aspiring note, and mark
What thrilling joys her spirit fosters, when
’Tis striking hands with frail mortality.
Preserve the secret in thy breast, rather
Than tempt the cavil of a faithless world; 50
They tell us every hope that bears beyond
This little life, is but the phantom of
A fragile heart, or a disordered brain.

published in Ohio Star, 20 October 1831

 

33 The Prospects of Childhood

O, how brilliant to young fancy
Is the light of coming years?
Yet the eager-sought illusion,
Overtaken, disappears;
And when one bright charm is broken 5
Its successor chains the sight;
And the young heart’s tender pulses
Seem to quicken with delight.

Warm anticipation framing
Sunny castles farther on, 10
More aerial than the gardens
Hung in ancient Babylon:
Peeping through the page of childhood,
Riper ages teem with bliss;
Music rolling soft and tender— 15
Sweeter than a mother’s kiss.

Fancy pencils spreading landscapes,
Broad as Crissa’s flowery vales;
Groves of innocence, resounding,
With affection’s sinless tales. 20
Scenes so beautiful in prospect,
Captivate the gazing eye,
One by one, as we approach them
Lay their prettiest colors by.

Little ramblers after blossoms, 25
See afar some honey-sweet;
Heedless of the beauties round them
Trample flowers beneath their feet:
Thus, we hasten o’er enjoyments,
Future prospects call us on; 30
Till beyond the streams of pleasure,
We regret the seasons gone!

published in Ohio Star, 27 October 1831

 

34 To a Politician

Pray (when thou pray’st,) that fame will spread
A bright Parnassian wreath for thee:
How well it twines around thy head,
All, but thyself, may see.

Crave what thou wilt: but surely crave 5
A name, nor think the purchase dear:
If sweetly sounded o’er thy grave
All, but thyself, can hear.

O! scruple not, yourself to sell,
For what a generous world will give, 10
Yes, let a grateful public tell
When, such an one, did live.

published in Ohio Star, 17 November 1831

 

35 Forget Me Not
[My Epitaph] To A———

’Tis not the tribute of a sigh
From sorrow’s bleeding bosom drawn;
Nor tears that flow from pity’s eye,
To weep for me when I am gone;

No costly balm, no rich perfume, 5
No vain sepulchral rite I claim;
No mournful knell, no marble tomb,
Nor sculptur’d stone to tell my name.

It is a holier tithe I crave
Than time-proof, monumental piers, 10
Than roses planted on my grave,
Or willows drip’d in dewy tears.

The garlands of hypocrisy
May be equip’d with many a gem;
I prize the heart’s sincerity 15
Before a princely diadem.

In friendship’s memory let me live,
I know no earthly wish beside;
I ask no more; yet O forgive
This impulse of instinctive pride. 20

The silent pulse of memory,
That beats to the unutter’d tone
Of tenderness, is more to me
Than the insignia of a stone:

For friendship holds a secret cord, 25
That with the fibres of my heart,
Entwines so deep, so close, ’tis hard
For death’s dissecting hand to part!

I feel the low responses roll,
Like the far echo of the night, 30
And whisper, softly through my soul,
“I would not be forgotten quite.”

published in Ohio Star, 9 February 1832

 

36 The Grave

’Tis a shadowy region, where close in retreat,
A dispassionate people unconsciously meet:
The pale nations are quiet, exempted from care,
No unhallowed ambition intrudes itself there;
There’s no thirst for dominion, no envy of gain, 5
No vain strife for preferment that rankles the brain.
There bright crowns lose their lustre, and sceptres decay;
There the slave drops his fetter, the tyrant his sway;
Power dismisses its terrors, and wisdom its charm;
Fame erases its signet, and beauty its form; 10
’Tis a land of deep silence, envelop’d in gloom;
No soft accents of music enliven the tomb!
There’s a time-tide in midnight that flows to the dawn,
And a track on the desert where others have gone;
There’s a path in the forest which footsteps have made, 15
And a sound in the thicket conducts to the glade;
There’s a barque on the ocean that makes to the shore,
With the billows behind and the light-house before;
There’s a habit-wrought impulse whenever we roam,
And the voice of affection, to pilot us home; 20
There’s a pulse in our bosoms, that beats for the sky,
And the grave is life’s passage which opens on high:
’Tis a dark, lonely passage, that none can evade;
But however unsocial, there’s light in its shade,
Since its self-yielding victim explor’d its domain, 25
And dissolv’d the enchantment by rising again.

published in Ohio Star, 10 May 1832

 

37 The Western Frontier

’Tis the tread of the warrior, the battle is coming,
The red-man is laying the calumet by;
The war-whoop is sounding, the tomahawk glist’ning
And the blood-reeking scalping-knife bar’d to the sky.

The late smiling cottage is lone and deserted, 5
Its inmates are flying for refuge afar;
And the herds o’er wild pastures are recklessly feeding,
For the shepherd has gone to equip for the war.

There’s a howl in the wigwam; life currently passes,
But none is enrich’d by the horrible deal; 10
For the carnage of war, is a car of destruction,
Which the living deplore, and the dying must feel!

Revenge is a fault the poor Indian inherits,
’Tis inspired in his soul, by recitals of wrong,
And their mothers have sung them the deeds of Tecumseh, 15
And they caught the bold spirit of war in the song.

’Twas a demon of wrath that presided at council—
The spirit of vengeance that blood must appease;
The chief’s eye kindled deeply—an omen of slaughter,
And the war-talk has gone up and down on the breeze! 20

O! how long ere the white plume of peace will be waving,
To the white man the signal of safety and rest?
And the Indian appeased—with his jewels and wampum
Find his home in the forest and feel himself blest?

published in Ohio Star, 26 July 1832

 

38 National Change

Turn the pages—turn and read,
Then repeat the story
How Columbia gain’d the meed
In the path of glory.

Then parade and pompous noise 5
Were not wreaths of honor—
Egotism’s prating voice,
Form’d no scepter’d banner.

Worth and talent then combin’d,
Without ostentation: 10
Surely change is not confin’d
To fickle female fashion!

composed in 1834

 

39 Paraphrase
[“See! yon atmosphere is parting”]

“And I, John, saw the holy City, New Jerusalem coming down from God, out of heaven; prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”
—Rev 21.2.

See! yon atmosphere is parting—
See it roll in waves of blue
On either side, and brightly darting—
Glorious light is darting through.
What means this strange sight? Is old Nature unmoulding, 5
And the elements flying away with affright?
Are the heavenly regions, their secrets unfolding,
And the upper eternity heaving in sight?

See a glorious form appearing—
Vastly broad—immensely high; 10
And its shining course is steering
Through the conduit of the sky.
’Tis the holy Jerusalem—city of splendor—
The joy of the Saints and the glory of God:
All glorious within—with unparalleled grandeur, 15
The rays of its light are diverging abroad.

Who’ll obtain the priceless favor
Of entrance in this perfect dome?
In the presence of the Savior,
Find an everlasting home? 20
O how happy are they who have kept His commandments,
For they shall have right to the fair tree of life—
Through the gates of the City they freely shall enter
Secure from corruption, commotion and strife.

published in Recitations for the Primary Associations, 1882

 

40 “Earth shall adore Thee
O thou King of Kings”

Earth shall adore Thee O thou King of Kings
Thou art high exalted o’er all earthly things
Glory majesty and honor
Be unto our God forever
Let the righteous, everlasting praises sing. 5

God is our trust, our strength and our defence
He to us, great gifts and blessings does dispense
The life that is, and hope of that to come, He dares bestow
O praise ye His name from whom eternal blessings flow.

Judgement and justice—truth, mercy and love 10
Crown with holiness and pow’r the courts above
God, eternity is filling
Peace and light and grace distiling
Down from heav’n on all who true and faithful prove.

Then, O ye Saints in songs of praise rejoice 15
Join the sacred chant with melody of voice
God hath redeem’d us with the precious blood of His dear Son
To whom glory hallelujah be henceforth, Amen.

n.d.

 

41 Praise Ye the Lord

Great is the Lord: ’tis good to praise
His high and holy name:
Well may the saints in latter days
His wondrous love proclaim.

To praise him let us all engage, 5
That unto us is giv’n:
To live in this momentous age,
And share the light of heav’n.

We’ll praise him for our happy lot,
On this much favored land; 10
Where truth, and righteousness are taught,
By his divine command.

We’ll praise him for more glorious things,
Than language can express,
The “everlasting gospel” brings, 15
The humble souls to bless.

The Comforter is sent again,
His pow’r the church attends;
And with the faithful will remain
Till Jesus Christ descends. 20

We’ll praise him for a prophet’s voice,
His people’s steps to guide:
In this, we do and will rejoice,
Tho’ all the world deride.

Praise him, the time, the chosen time, 25
To favor Zion’s come:
And all the saints from ev’ry clime,
Will soon be gathered home.

The op’ning seals announce the day,
By prophets long declar’d; 30
When all, in one triumphant lay,
Will join to praise the Lord.

published in Messenger and Advocate, August 1835

 

42 “The glorious day is rolling on”

The glorious day is rolling on—
All glory to the Lord!
When fair as at creation’s dawn
The earth will be restor’d.

A perfect harvest then will crown 5
The renovated soil;
And rich abundance drop around,
Without corroding toil:

For in its own primeval bloom,
Will nature smile again; 10
And blossoms streaming with perfume,
Adorn the verdant plain.

The saints will then, with pure delight,
Possess the holy land;
And walk with Jesus Christ in white, 15
And in his presence stand.

What glorious prospects! can we claim
These hopes, and call them ours?
Yes, if through faith in Jesus’ name,
We conquer satan’s pow’rs. 20

If we, like Jesus bear the cross—
Like him despise the shame;
And count all earthly things but dross,
For his most holy name.

Then while the pow’rs of darkness rage, 25
With glory in our view,
In Jesus’ strength let us engage,
To press to Zion too.

For Zion will like Eden bloom;
And Jesus come to reign— 30
The Saints immortal from the tomb
With angels meet again.

published in Sacred Hymns, 1835

 

43 The Parting

Farewell—farewell, I leave you
The time is drawing nigh
When I shall witness sceneries
Beneath a distant sky.

This flowing, sunny landscape 5
In nature’s grandeur spread;
Will meet no more, my raptur’d gaze,
Nor my delighted tread.

But nature’s gifts are ample,
And landscapes far away, 10
Perchance will seem as beautiful—
Perchance will look as gay.

And when I gaze upon them
In all their summer pride;
They’ll seem to speak of days gone by 15
When thou wert by my side.

And when the twilight breezes
Move placidly along;
I’ll think of the rich melodies
That grac’d our evening song. 20

And when night’s circling shadows
Shall hide earth’s canopy;
With fervor shall my heart and voice
Ascend to God for thee.

The carriage now is ready 25
And waiting at the door—
Farewell, farewell! we’re parting now,
Perhaps to meet no more!

n.d.

 

44 On Being Importun’d by a Friend
to Write

Friendship’s imperative—I own its sway:
Its unction, angels dare not disobey;
And could its sacred voice inspire
Sweet pathos through my slumb’ring lyre,
To you I’d dedicate its softest lay. 5

You ask me to awake its chords again—
But dull monotonies would fill the strain
For every strain has been twice sung,
And every chorus, three times rung,
And every novelty has grown insane. 10

I would not aim at things, before unsung,
Nor such as move upon a seraph’s tongue,
But, till its numbers shall be fraught
With novel sound and native thought,
O, let my stupid lyre remain unstrung.

n.d.

 

45 The Gathering of the Saints
and the Commencement of 
the City of Adam-ondi-Ahman

Awake! my slumbering Minstrel; thou hast lain
Like one that’s number’d with th’ unheeded slain!
Unlock thy music—let thy numbers flow
Like torrents bursting from the melting snow.
What though a stranger in a stranger land? 5
The Gentile ear thou wilt no more command:
In that fair field of song thy reign is o’er—
Thou’st fled its scenery to return no more.

Though here no letter’d pinions wait to bear
Thy lisping accents through the distant air; 10
The heavens, indulgent, may perchance to bend,
And kind angelic spirits condescend
To catch thy notes, and bear thy strains away
To regions where celestial minstrels play;
Because the theme which now inspires thy song, 15
Is one that interests the heavenly throng.

The God who talk’d with Adam face to face
Is speaking now, in these the latter-days,
And all the righteous men that ever stood
Upon the earth, before and since the flood, 20
Unite their faith to roll the kingdom forth,
Until the “Little Stone” shall fill the earth.

Joseph’s and Judah’s records join’d in one,
A powerful instrument have now become
To gather up the Saints, a noble band 25
That will possess the consecrated land.
From northern, eastern, and from southern climes
The “Camp of God” comes up from time to time.
Though diff’rent customs have their manners form’d,
Though various feelings have their bosoms warm’d, 30
With one accord they hear the joyful sound,
And to Messiah’s standard gather round;
Through stranger lands they trace a tedious road,
To places chosen for the Saints’ abode;
Beyond the Mississippi’s lucid flow, 35
Where Zion’s towers will yet with splendor glow;
For God has set His hand the second time,
To gather His dispers’d from every clime.

In Jackson County, first they purchas’d land,
Where earth’s Metropolis in time will stand. 40
On that choice soil, obtaining legal right,
Their hearts exulted with intense delight;
But lo! as yet, the Saints could not be blest
With the possession of eternal rest.

A lawless mob, the nation’s deep’ning stain, 45
Like beasts of prey that ravage o’er the plain,
Pour’d forth its rage, and, in extremity,
From their dear homes the Saints were forc’d to flee!
And thus from time to time were driven forth
To seek for shelter further to the north, 50
Where they are building cities to the Lord,
That Zion in her strength may be prepar’d,
Ere the destroying angel ushers forth,
And desolation’s besom sweeps the earth—
Ere the broad scourge, by heaven’s inflicting hand, 55
Shall scatter terror through Columbia’s land!

But few full moons have through their orbits play’d
Since a foundation in the wild was laid,
That Adam-ondi-Ahman might become
The pride of nations and the pilgrim’s home. 60

In Daviess County, in a winding grove,
Where the Grand-River’s waters proudly move—
Where nature’s fields spread forth on either side
In the wild majesty of prairie pride:
With files of woodland interspers’d between, 65
Cloth’d with rich foliage, to adorn the scene—
At the last dawn of the last Summer’s sun
The infant City hardly was begun.

How much it seem’d unlike a city then!
’Twas scarce saluted by the feet of men! 70
Almost a pathless wild the City lay—
God had reserv’d it for the latter-day.
But who, on earth, would volunteer and come
To an uncultur’d region for a home?

The first to break the soil is Lyman Wight, 75
In this last kingdom an intrepid knight—
A dauntless soul—he fear’d not death nor hell;
Then should he fear in the lone wild to dwell?

He comes and locates—mark his destiny—
God has prepar’d for him a company: 80
For see, ah, see! in yonder eastern land—
In Kirtland City, a promiscuous band,
Where wheat and tares to such a height had grown
That Saints could scarce from hypocrites be known!
Many had trifl’d with the things of God, 85
And all must suffer the chastising rod
’Neath persecution’s deep, unhallow’d rage,
The portion of the Saints in ev’ry age;
While doom’d to feel oppression’s heavy rod
From vile apostates, the worst “scourge of God!” 90
While all the powers of earth and hell agree
To load the righteous with calamity.
Some faithful souls were bound in this pell-mell,
But how to separate they could not tell.
Yet God, whose arm becomes His people’s strength, 95
Protects His Saints, and crowns His work at length:
Unto the humble souls who watch and pray,
He brings deliverance in His chosen way;
And through His Prophet speaks to them, “Anon
Up, get you hence—flee out from Babylon.” 100

In prompt obedience to the wise command,
Many arise and leave their native land—
The pleasant homes which habit renders near,
With friends and kindred nature holds so dear:
For all who win the high, celestial prize, 105
Must seal their covenants by sacrifice.
Relying on the Lord’s protecting care,
They go, as Abra’m did, “not knowing where;”
Glad to arrive, through much fatigue and toil,
On Adam-ondi-Ahman’s fertile soil. 110
And soon anon, with patient toil and care,
The shingl’d roofs are cluster’d here and there.
In humble style the City was begun—
With rapid progress ’twas continued on.
But Oh! behold! a scenery strange and new— 115
A picture mortal pencil never drew!

’Twas Autumn: Summer’s melting breath was gone,
And Winter’s gelid blast was stealing on:
To meet its dread approach, with anxious care
The houseless Saints were struggling to prepare; 120
When round about a desp’rate mob arose,
Like tigers waking from a night’s repose—
They come like hordes from nether shades let loose—
Men without hearts—just made for Satan’s use!
With wild, demoniac rage they sally forth, 125
Resolv’d to drive the Saints of God from earth.

Instead of building, or preparing food,
This peace-destroying mob must be withstood!
To guard their rights, their children, and their wives,
The men equip, regardless of their lives, 130
With no alternative, but—fight or die,
The hosts of Israel now refuse to fly.
The Far-West brethren leave their interests there,
In Adam-ondi’s sufferings to share.

Hemm’d in by foes—depriv’d the use of mill, 135
Necessity inspir’d their patient skill.
Tin pails and stove-pipes, from their service torn,
Are chang’d to graters to prepare the corn,
That nature’s wants may barely be supplied—
They ask no treat, no luxury beside: 140
Determin’d to maintain the sacred post,
In spite of earth, in spite of Satan’s host!
Conscious their actions were approv’d on high,
They dar’d the battle-field, nor fear’d to die.
They had no armor such as Hector wore, 145
Nor yet the arms that proud Achilles bore;
But, with the God of battles for their shield,
They were content the sword and gun to wield.

But see, the threat’ning foe in terror hide,
Dark guilt and cowardice go side by side; 150
Without assault or battle, see them fly—
And thus the fearful bloodless war goes by.

The troubles hush’d, business again revives;
With mutual joy the “Kirtland Camp” arrives—
A houseless host—expos’d to wet and dry! 155
They hail the City ’neath the western sky.
No lofty spires they find, no princely dome,
No costly palace to adorn their home;
But from the tented shade their songs resound,
That they a peaceful residence have found; 160
That thus, their feet are privileg’d to rest
Where reverend Adam once his children blest.

“Union is strength,” and effort, join’d with skill,
In six Autumnal days produc’d a mill!
’Twas a rich blessing, with its service blest, 165
Some scores of graters were consign’d to rest.

But whence their shelters? Winter hastens fast:
Can tents and wagons stem this northern blast?
Through long exposure and the nightly breeze
Many, e’en now, are suffering from disease. 170

But ah! how soon the reign of peace is o’er,
The Saints must wage relentless war once more!
The reckless mob again in haste return,
And patient suffering must be longer borne.

Where are thy far-fam’d laws, Columbia? Where 175
Thy boasted freedom—thy protecting care?
Is this a land of Rights? Stern facts shall say
If legal justice here maintains its sway.
The official powers of State are sheer pretence,
When they’re exerted in the Saints’ defence. 180

Well may the nations of the earth give ear,
For lo! the kingdom of our God is near.
Let proud usurpers lay their ensigns down,
And haughty tyrants lightly hold the crown!
All rival monarchies must soon give way, 185
And Heaven’s Eternal Kingdom bear the sway.

Roll on thy glorious work, Eternal God,
Till Zion’s terror shall be known abroad;
When one shall chase a thousand, through thy might,
And two shall put ten thousand foes to flight; 190
And thy swift heralds go at thy command
To every isle—to every distant land:
When one day’s time shall give a nation birth,
And Zion’s glory spread o’er all the earth:
When Judah’s mountains shall become a plain, 195
And the two continents unite again:
Then shall the long-lost Tribes of Israel come
To “dwell in Zion, at Jerusalem.”

composed 24 October 1838
published in Poems 1, 1856

 

46 “Oh Liberty!
O Sound, Once Delightful”

Our fore-fathers fought and our fore-fathers bled—
Let them rest in peace, in their gory bed:
O! awake them not from their sweet repose,
Lest their hearts should bleed o’er their children’s woes.

’Twas for Freedom’s prize, the vet’rans fought— 5
And Equal Rights, was the boon they sought:
They obtain’d it at length, and their country’s smile
Arous’d the envy of Europe’s isle.

For her sons were free—they could worship God,
Without fear of reproach, or the tyrant’s rod: 10
Then, then was a time that tears could flow,
And the heart could melt o’er tales of woe.

But Columbia! where? O where is now,
The bright wreath of glory that deck’d thy brow?
Let thy patriots sleep, and awake them not— 15
And thy heroes’ deeds—let them be forgot;
For the blood-stain’d banner, their conquests won,
Has its sacred protection now withdrawn!
There’s a dark, foul stain on the Eagle’s crest,
For Columbia’s sons, have her sons oppress’t; 20
And chas’d into exile, now they roam
Far away from their land, and their much lov’d home!

Awake! all ye sons of freedom! awake!
And redeem your cause, for our Country’s sake:
Give us back our rights ere eternal shame 25
Shall wither the wreath of the nation’s fame.

Shall we—must we rank with the barbarous age
Stamp’d with persecution’s inhuman rage?
Shall the foul mis-deeds of a sister State
Blast the Union’s glory and seal her fate? 30
Shall the haughty monarchs of Europe say
That Columbia’s glory has faded away?
No, awake! ye sons of freedom! awake!
And redeem your cause, for Columbia’s sake.

composed April 1839
published in Quincy Whig, 4 May 1839

 

47 To the Citizens of Quincy

Ye Sons and Daughters of Benevolence,
Whose hearts are tun’d to notes of sympathy
Who have put forth your liberal hand to meet
The urgent wants of the oppress’d and poor!

Ye high-ton’d spirits; who have nobly dar’d 5
To stem the foaming tide of vile reproach,
And brave the pois’nous, deadly current of
Detraction and fell hate; in rescuing
Oppressed innocence, from the hard hand
Of the Oppressor!

In return for this, 10
Though it perpetuates your City’s name
And makes the sound of Quincy, echo sweet
And full of moral meaning to the soul
Of ev’ry true philanthropist: you get
No regal honors.—No loud trump of fame 15
Will blazon forth your deeds, except to throw
A dark’ning shade upon them; thus to aim
A cruel missile at the rescued ones.
No laurel branch nor cypress bough will wave
In graceful dignity about your heads, to tell, 20
In speechless eloquence what you have done.
No sculptur’d marble monument, will rear
Its head, as if in bold defiance to
The stern, untiring, withering hand of Time,
To teach your name and deeds to passers-by. 25

No; we have no insignia of this kind—
No medal of an earthly mould to give:
But yet, we fain would proffer you a boon
Of more congenial texture—one that’s wrought
In the fine fibres of the human heart, 30
Not in that heart where selfishness, and mean,
And low, and sordid feelings sit enthron’d:
And whose dull pulses are like clods confin’d
By the unwieldy chains of Ignorance.
For there are some, who, “privily have crept 35
Among us unawares” whose hearts are set
On gain, for filthy lucre’s sake:—and while
We say to you, beware of such, lest they
Abuse your liberality—we say,
Esteem them our misfortune, not our fault; 40
For tares must grow among the wheat, until
The time of harvest; therefore, the upright,
Must often suffer an unjust reproach.

Pure Gratitude, our free-will off’ring, is
The product of an elevated mind; 45
When the heart beats with sensibility—
Reciprocates each high-born thought, and stoops
Unask’d, to pay its def’rence at the shrine—
The sacred shrine of generosity.
And some, yes, many, spirits such as these, 50
We have among us;—Noble minded ones,
Who will not swerve from those unchanging laws—
The steadfast principles of righteousness:—
Whose firm integrity would yet remain
Unmov’d tho’ “mountains skip like rams, and all 55
The little hills like lambs.”

The Gratitude
Which emanates from spirits such as these;
Is no mean offering—neither cheaply won—
Ye noble, gen’rous hearted Citizens
Of Quincy!

composed April 1839
published in Quincy Whig, 11 May 1839

 

48 To a Revolutionary Father

Thou aged man: I bless thy hoary head—
Blest be each veteran in our country’s cause:
To you, from persecution’s rage, we’ve fled
To seek protection of those sacred Laws;
Those Laws, for which our noble fathers fought, 5
Which in Missouri, have been set at naught!

Methinks your heart must bleed, while often flow
The crystal tears upon your furrow’d cheek,
To see those Rights, for which you suffer’d so,
Usurp’d by those, of whom I scorn to speak, 10
While those, who should be privileg’d to share
Those free-born rights; are wandering here and there!

Thrust from our homes, where once we dwelt secure,
Like wayward pilgrims, to your house we come;
Houseless and homeless—shelterless and poor— 15
Beneath your kindly roof, we find a home:
And find a heart, to Freedom’s cause yet true,
Unlike Missouri’s lawless, mobbing crew.

Missouri’s exiles, own your friendly care;
And in the season of adversity, 20
The orphan’s blessing, and the widow’s pray’r
Both morn and night, ascend to God for thee;
That thou may’st live so long as life is dear,
And peace and plenty crown thy closing year.

And when thy days are number’d here below, 25
And you shall leave this rugged, nether soil;
May you depart in peace; and may you go,
Where weary spirits rest, secure from toil:
Go, join thy spirit to that noble band,
Who sav’d our Country from th’ oppressor’s hand.

composed May 1839
published in Quincy Whig, 18 May 1839

 

49 An Echo from the Canadas

Hark! a sound—a deep sound; and it comes from afar—
’Tis the half smother’d voice of the spirit of war;
With a speech full of meaning of all that is dread,
From the shrill battle shout, to the knell for the dead.

There’s a loud note of triumph high floating in air, 5
And the low moving murmur of hopeless despair,
With the tramp of the war-horse—the clacking of arms,
And the shriek of the helpless, and cry of alarms.

There’s a sound of the battle-drum, bugle and fife,
With the groans of the wounded, who’re struggling for life; 10
And the sound of the prison-door’s harsh hallow grate,
Where a dense crowd of inmates, commingle their fate.

There’s a note from the widow, deploring the fall,
Of her faithful companion, protector and all;
Like a man-slaying culprit, he’s push’d out of time 15
He died on the gallows, unconscious of crime.

There’s a tone of the orphan in plaintive distress,
With none to befriend him, and none to caress.
His father was press’d, and in battle he fell,
And the heart-broken mother, soon breathed a farewell. 20

There’s a sound from the mansion where plenty and peace,
But few months ago, rock’d the cradle of ease;
Far abroad for protection the inmates have fled
And the rioting foreigner, rules in their stead.

There’s the sound of the beggar, who waits at the door; 25
The invader has plundered his plentiful store;
And he, whose abundance, his thousands had fed,
Now craves the bare pittance, a morsel of bread!

Scenes of deep consternation, of tumult and dread,
And of wild devastation, contagiously spread, 30
O’er dark crimson path of the Demon of War,
When he hurries along with his purple-ting’d car.

published in Quincy Whig, 22 June 1839

 

50 My First View of a Western Prairie

The loveliness of Nature, always did
Delight me.

In the days of childhood; when
My young light heart, in all the buoyancy
Of its own bright imagination’s spell,
Beat in accordant consonance to all 5
For which it cherished an affinity;
The summer glory of the landscape, rous’d
Within my breast a princely feeling. Time’s
Obliterating glance cannot erase,
The impulse with my being interwove; 10
And oftentimes, in the fond ecstacy
Of youth’s effervescence, I’ve gaz’d
Upon the richly variegated fields;
Which most emphatically spoke the praise
Of Nature, and the cultivator’s skill. 15

But when I heard the western traveller paint
The splendid beauties of the far-off West;
Where Nature’s pastures, rich and amply broad,
Waving in full abundance, seem to mock
The deepest schemes and boldest efforts of 20
The cultivators of the eastern soil;
I grew incredulous that Nature’s dress
Should be so rich, and so domestic, and
So beautiful, without the touch of Art;
And thought the picture fancifully wrought. 25

Yet, in the process of revolving scenes,
I left the place of childhood and of youth;
And as I journey’d t’ward the setting sun,
As if awaking from a nightly dream,
Into a scenery grand and strangely new, 30
I almost thought myself transported back
Upon the retrograding wheel of time;
To days, and scenes, when Greece presided o’er
The destinies of earth; and when she shone
Like her ador’d Apollo, without one 35
Tall rival in the field of Literature:
And fancied then, that I was standing on
That tow’ring mount of truly classic fame,
That overlooks the rich, the fertile, and
The far-extended vales of Crissa: Or, 40
That in some wild poetic spell, of deep
Unconscious recklessness, I’d stray’d afar
Upon the flowing plains of Marathon.

But soon reflection’s potent wand dispel’d
The false illusion, and I realiz’d 45
That I was not inhaling foreign air;
Nor moving in a scene emblazon’d with
The classic legends of antiquity:
O no; the scenery around was not
Enchantment: ’Twas the bright original, 50
Of those fair images and ideal forms,
Which fancy’s pencil is so prompt to sketch,
Instead of treading on Ionian fields;
I stood upon Columbian soil; and in
The rich and fertile State of Illinois. 55
Amaz’d, I view’d until my optic nerve
Grew dull and giddy with the phrenzy of
The innocent delight; and I exclaim’d
With Sheba’s queen, ‘one half had not been told.’

But then my thoughts—can I describe them now? 60
No: for description’s ablest pow’rs grow lame,
Whenever put upon the chase of things
Of non-existence; and my thoughts had all,
Like liquid matter, melted down; and had
Become, as with a secret touch absorb’d, 65
In the one all-engrossing feeling of
Deep admiration, vivid and intense.
And my imagination too, for once,
Acknowledged its own imbecility,
And cower’d down, as if to hide away: 70
For all its pow’rs had been too cold and dull,
Too tame, and too domestic far, to draw
A parallel, with the bold grandeur, and
The native beauty of this “Western World.”

published in Quincy Whig, 29 June 1839

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