06 November 2013

The Western Emigrant - An Appreciated 1832 Poem

The following Prize Poem is from the pen of Mrs. Sigourney. It deserves to rank with the most finished specimens that have emanated from the same gifted source.

Amid those frest shades that proudly rear'd
Their unshorn beauty toward the favoring skies,
An axe rang sharply, There, with vigorous arm
Wrought a bold emigrant, while by his side
His little son with question and response
Beguiled the toil.
By, thou hast never seen
Such glorious trees and when their giant trunks
Fall, how the firm earth groans. Rememberest thou
The mighty river on whose breast we sail'd
So many days on towards the setting sun?
Compared to that, our own Connecticut
Is but a creeping stream."
"Father, the brook,
That by our door went singing, when I launch'd
My tiny boat with all the sportive boys,
When school was o'er, is dearer far to me
Than all these deep broad waters. To my eye
They are as strangers. And those little trees
My mother planted in the garden bound
Of our first home, from whence the fragrant peach
Fell in its ripening gold, were fairer sure
Then this dark forest shutting out the day."
"What, ho! my little girl," — and with light step
A fairy creature hasted toward her sire,
And setting down the basket that contain'd
The noon's repast, look'd upward to his face
With sweet, confiding smile.
"See, dearest, see
Yon bright-winged paroquet, and hear the song
Of the gay red-bird echoing through the trees,
Making rich music. Did'st thou ever hear
In far New England such a mellow tone?"
"I had a robin that did take the crumbs
Each night, and morning, and his chirping voice
Did make me joyful, as I went to tend
My snow-drops. I was always laughing there,
In that first home. I should be happier now
Methinks, if I could find among these dells
The same fresh violets,"
Slow Night drew on,
And round the rude hut of the Emigrant,
The wrathful spirit of the autumn storm
Spake bitter things. His wearied children slept,
And he, with head declin'd sat listening long
To the swoln waters of the Illinois,
Dashing against their shores. Starting he spake —
"Wife I — did I see thee brush away a tear? —
Say, was it so? — Thy heart was with the halls
Of they nativity. Their sparkling lights,
Carpets and sofas, and admiring guests,
Befit thee better than these rugged walls
Of shapeless logs, and this lone hermit home."
"No — no! — All was so still around, methought,
Upon my ear that echoed hymn did steal
Which mid the church where erst we paid our vows
So tuneful peal'd. But tenderly thy voice
Dissolv'd the illusion :" — and the gentle smile
Lighting her brow, — the fond caress that sooth'd
Her waking infant, re-assured his soul
That wheresoe'er the pure affections dwell
And strike a healthful root, is happiness.
Placid and grateful, to his rest he sunk, —
But dreams, those wild magicians, which do play
Such pranks when Reason slumbers, tireless wrought
Their will with him. Up rose the busy mart
Of his own native city, — roof and spire
All glittering bright, in Fancy's frost-work lay.
Forth came remember'd forms — with curving neck
The steed his boyhood nurtur'd, probably neigh'd —
The favorite dog, exulting round his feet
Frisk'd, with shrill, joyous bark — familiar doors
Flew open — greeting hands with his were link'd
In Friendship's grasp — he heard the keen debate
From congregated haunts, where mind with mind
Doth blend and brighten — and till morning rc'vd
'Mid the lov'd scenery of his father-land.
February 29, 1832. Norwich Courier 10(49): 4. From the Albany Literary Gazette. Also issued in other newspapers.