Thursday, December 25, 2014

"A Winter Piece" from the Woodstock Northern Memento (1805)

[The following production is copied from the "Northern Memento,"published at Woodstock, (Vermont) in which it is published as original. It is no ordinary specimen of blank versification; and happily combines the sublime morality of Cowperwith the life-giving fancy ofThomson.]


"Dread WINTER comes at last to close the scene."

—YES, Winter comes!

'Tis but a moment since the smiling Spring

On Zephyr's downy wing rejoicing came,

And op'd, and kiss'd the coyly-blushing rose.

Then Nature from her sleep awoke serene,

And dress'd herself anew.—At his approach,

Tall hills of snow ran down with gratitude;

The lofty mountains rais'd their melting heads,

And, in the face of heaven, wept for joy;

The little riv'lets ran to find the sea,

And join to swell the thankful song of praise.

But, ah! their joy was short! their songs have ceas'd,

All nature sleeps again:—dread Winter's here.

The Lapland Giant comes with pendant ice,

Chill horror shooting from his gelid chin;

Nor lakes, nor seas, can stop his rough career:—

He builds his bridge across old ocean's breast.

Affrighted, Sol retires with hasty strides,

And dares not but obliquely downward look,

On his once conquer'd, now his conquering foe.

The earth is all in weeds of mourning clad,

To wail the loss of her departed friend;

Th' unconquer'd evergreen is left alone,

And nods defiance to the northern blasts.

    This mirror paints the fate of changing man.

This moment youth, with all its op'ning charms,

In playful mood, sits laughing in his face:

His swelling heart now beats with sanguine hope

Of satisfying bliss, and full blown joy:

He hugs himself in this fantastic dream,

And thinks that nought can blast the vernal flow'r,

But, while anticipation gilds the wing of hope,

The frigid hand of Time with furrows deep,

His forehead ploughs; and blights the pleasing view.

"Then let fair virtue's seed in youth be sown;

"'Twill prove an evergreen in hoary age

"And flourish in the Winter of our years:—

"'Twill waft us to the realms of peace and love,

"To taste th' ecstatic bliss of saints on high;

"There happiness will spring without alloy,

"And seraphs chaunt their neverending strains."

Northern Budget. December 31, 1805: 4 col 1.

I'd helped deliver Revolutionary War veteran Abial Bugbee's new granite veteran's marker from Lansingburgh to Pomfret, Vermont earlier this year, which took us through Woodstock, a nice-looking place.

The poem was reprinted a couple times without attribution to the short-lived Northern Memento (it lasted from May 1805 to February 1806 ).

The Spirit of the Public Journals; Or, Beauties of the American Newspapers For 1805. Baltimore, MD: Geo. Dobbin & Murphy, 1806. 298-299.

The Churchman's Magazine 4(1). January 1807. 35-36.

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