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Sarah Josepha Buell Hale
The Genius of Oblivion
(Concord: Jacob E. Moore, 1823)

  • Title Page
  • Dedication
  • Canto 1
  • Canto 2
  • Notes

  • transcriber's comments

  • The Conneaut Giants   |   Oberlin Spalding manuscript   |   "Thanatopsis"   |   Behemoth





    Other Original Poems








    [ v ]

    Dedicatory  Poem.




      NO mercenary muse inspires my lay;
    But Gratitude would her deep off'ring pay --
    Her patrons and her friends would number o'er,
    And, kneeling to the Orphan's God, implore
    A blessing, pure as Pity's tear refin'd,
    Rich as the treasures of the liberal mind,
    Lasting as virtue, large as faith, to rest
    On every feeling heart, and generous breast,
    That, quick to hear, and prompt to grant relief,
    Scarce waited till bereavement told her grief,
    But patronized a muse unknown to fame,
    And gave to hope, an energy, an aim:
    Benevolence so delicate, so dear,
    That words express not, but the grateful tear. --
    To those who with their bounties, praises bring,
    The muse, with pride, her warmest thanks shall sing.


    vi                                     DEDICATION.                                    

      Ye Maidens, fair as good, whose bosoms feel,
    Whose hearts would staunch the wound ye cannot heal;
    For you, may Spring's first blushing roses blow,
    And on your cheeks, Health's sweeter roses glow;
    With innocence your guard, and peace your guest,
    In blessing others, may you still be blest.

      And Mothers, while your infant charge you tend,
    And with caresses soft instruction blend,
    And treasure up each prattler's tale with care,
    As sweetest music for their father's ear --
    Oh, you are happy! happy may you be!
    Such happiness no more will smile for me.

      And may those generous Youths, who boast a mind
    Learning may grace, but nature hath refin'd,
    Who felt a widow's woe, a woman's claim,
    And gave, from sympathy, a patron name,
    Feel the proud throb that conscious merit knows,
    When genius treads the path that virtue shows,
    Till manhood rip'ning every youthful hope,
    They rise, their parents' pride, their country's prop:
    Within those academic halls they grace,
    Then haply should my little sons have place,
    Their hearts will kindle, when the names they see,
    That aided, blest their orphan infancy.


                                        DEDICATION.                                     vii

      But chief doth to the Mystic Band belong
    The hallowed tribute of my grateful song.
    Ye, whose souls swell'd with sympathy sincere,
    When bending o'er a brother's early bier,
    And when his widow'd wife and infants sued,
    Could feel the "luxury of doing good."
    Oh! may you still, in every fortune, know
    The peace approving conscience can bestow;
    And heaven, to crown its bounteous blessing, send
    Each faithful heart, a dear and better friend,
    That still, though earth should frown, and life were fled,
    Would love you living, or lament you dead.

      And lives there one, who, with ungen'rous part,
    Will spurn this offering of the broken heart!
    Whose envy of the man, he living, fear'd,
    Now to his helpless family transferr'd,
    Would crush them in the dust, a sacrifice,
    That his vain race might on their ruin rise!

      Envy, farewell! nor more pollute my line.
    But let me hail thee, Charity divine!
    Chief of the heavenly sisters, from thy throne
    Oh, bend, and bless each heart that throbs thine own!
    My Friends, my Patrons, bless with life and love,
    With hope below, and happiness above.


    viii                                     DEDICATION.                                    

      Though my lov'd country should reward my toil,
    And on my lay, approving, deign to smile,
    And Taste bestow the meed the muses prize,
    And Fancy all her day-dreams realize;
    Still, still your patronage shall be my boast --
    You kindly gave it, when 'twas needed most.


    [ 9 ]



    A Tale.



      THE freshening breeze o'er ocean blew,
    And curling vapors upward drew,
    As morn, in robe of misty grey,
    Peep'd forth -- the harbinger of day:
    The sea-fowl rais'd her plaintive cry,
    And coursed the wave in circles high;
    Or dashed the flood, her prey to gain --
    Her toils, like human, often vain.
    The fisherman trill'd his merry lay;
    No cares disturb his active day;
    And labor roused the village train,
    And shook his unshorn locks again.
    The flowers, that droop with nightly fears,
    A kiss of Sol soon dries their tears;


    10                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    And all is fresh and fair to see,
    As smiles on lip of infancy; --
    E'en sickness lifts her cheek, so pale,
    And fancies health may wing the gale;
    And scarce a heart so cold, forlorn,
    That glows not with the glow of morn.

      Beneath an oak, with thoughtful eye,
    Young Ormond watch'd the kindling sky
    And there on many a morn was he,
    And still, as if 'twere novelty,
    He dwelt with that unsated gaze,
    Which, far more eloquent than praise,
    Pours the beholder's spirit forth,
    E'er thought can yield to language birth;
    Till, from th' enthusiastic tone,
    Each movement of the mind is known.
    And Ormond's was a figure fine,
    That Grecian artists might design;
    His features, too, their skill might reach,
    And all of manly beauty teach;
    But, even should Appelles dare
    To throw the soul's expression there;
    Those quick and varying turns that show
    How passions melt, or feelings glow --
    Oh, he would fail, unless 'twere given,
    To blend his dyes with breath of heaven!


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             11

    Yet neighbors call'd him " truant boy,"
    Who spurn'd control, and scorn'd employ;"
    Because no trifling play or jest
    E'er gave his boyish pleasures zest; --
    The lonely ramble he preferr'd,
    Where human voice was never heard;
    With eager step, and wild delight,
    He climb'd the mountain's dizzy height;
    Or days, beside the grassy brook,
    He lay and watch'd his floating hook;
    Yet still, when to repay his toil,
    He chanced to snare the finny spoil,
    With sympathy he remark'd its pain,
    And cast the struggler home again.
    Then would he choose some curious flower,
    Peruse its texture, try its power,
    Study its use, and trace design,
    Th' impression of the Power divine.
    And to that One all great, all good,
    His spirit only bowed, subdued!
    His fellow men, for much he thought
    On man, -- his end and duty sought;
    But saw him stoop from aims divine --
    Saw reason kneel at folly's shrine;
    And fair integrity give place
    To bribes, or fawns, or cunning base;


    12                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    And vice and ignorance parade,
    Whilst worth and wisdom pine in shade;
    And Slander's arrows, foul as hell,
    That pierce with griefs incurable,
    By Envy forged, and Malice sent,
    Oft wound the good, the innocent --
    Oppression's ruthless gauntlet fall,
    And peace and safety weep their all.
    And though some fair examples, bright,
    Shone beacons in this starless night;
    He could not, and he would not throng
    With fashion's herd, that, right or wrong.
    Still follow custom's train along:
    His fellow-men, when such the view,
    Claim'd not his homage as their due;
    He pitied -- he despised them too!
    'Twas wrong, perhaps: the mighty mind,
    That soars with pinions unconfin'd,
    And searches, with discerning skill,
    The cause, effect of good and ill,
    Traces the harmony that springs
    From seemingly discordant things,
    And finds the universal plan
    Is love to God, and love to man.
    Then, lest its knowledge mar its peace;
    It still must judge with tenderness;


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             13

    For heaven's pure truths may be discern'd.
    And priz'd, by weak as well as learn'd:
    Unfathom'd depth of glorious grace
    That links all being -- fills all space.
    Pride may, at times, with knowledge dwell,
    As men are frail in court or cell;
    But empty heads its favorites are;
    With dress' attendance, title, glare,
    Self-love aspires, like balloon light,
    As airy, and as useless quite --
    Yet hears the world this clamorous crew,
    Nor gives to modest worth his due;
    But, with some trite and trifling rule,
    Dooms him a dull and dreaming fool.

      But Ormond, if his mind approv'd,
    Could hear "the world's dread laugh" unmov'd,
    Nor o'er his philosophic soul,
    Its spleen or censure held control.
    Mirth never formed his happiness,
    Nor passing compliments his peace
    But solitude was company,
    Where his wild fancy sported free.
    And ne'er, in any clime or age,
    Did Nature ope so fair a page
    To awe, enrapture, elevate,


    14                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    With the sublime, surprising, great,
    is where untamed by man, she reigns
    O'er sky-wrapp'd mountains, boundless plains,
    With rivers laced, whose sweeping tide
    Makes eastern streams like riv'lets glide;
    For Nature s dress deep forests spread,
    Where mammoths made their lonely bed
    And at her call, earth, ocean, air,
    Her table heap with viands rare; --
    When Sirius glows, her thirst to slake,
    Her cup's Superior's foaming lake,
    Whose wide unrivalled grandeur mocks
    All Europe's narrow seas and lochs.
    Now Ormond, from the Atlantic shore,
    That morn had purposed to explore
    Those pathless tracts, and aged woods,
    And caverns deep, and rushing floods;
    And prairies, that the wild deer hold,
    And cliffs, the vultures' eyries bold,
    And all those thousand wonders found,
    That, stretching from the billowy bound,
    Follow our Eagle's circles round.

      The sons of sloth and luxury,
    Who trifling live, and trembling die,
    Pleasure their shrine, and ease their pray'r --
    They will not sure attend him there.


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             15

    But come, Columbia's Pride, who first
    The vestal spark of freedom nurs'd,
    That now with the volcano's force,
    Prostrates the Mighty in its course,
    And shines, as erst on Egypt's night,
    The Despot's cloud, the Captive's light --
    Come trace your vast inheritance;
    Thence is your strength, your glory thence --
    A wall no engine shakes, no foe
    Its passes, or its guards may know.
    And let the "ancient cities" tread
    The mould'ring rubbish of their dead --
    The broken column, ruined wall,
    At once their pride and shame recall --
    Ours the fresh joy existence knows,
    When youth and health all rapture glows;
    With Ormond follow nature free,
    And feel the worth of Liberty.

      If, prisoned in some narrow cell,
    Oppression's hapless victim dwell,
    Till time, his first wild sorrow spent,
    Half soothes him with a cold content,
    A visionary happiness
    Then cheats the pressure of distress --
    Employment numbers o'er and o'er,
    Each bar and grate and massy door;


    16                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    And feeling, that the heart must share,
    Makes, like poor Trenck, some pet his care, -- [1]
    Oh, then should pale captivity,
    Release her prey with, 'go be free!'
    How bounds the burning soul -- and yet
    There mingles something like regret,
    As turning from that dungeon door,
    Where oft he dreamed, he dreams no more.

      What magic chain thus holds the mind?
    Mem'ry's associations bind --
    The rudest spot her charm endears.
    If cloth'd in tints of early years.
    No wonder, then, attained a height,
    That Ormond paused and cleared his sight;
    A tear perhaps, was gath'ring there --
    Then rose his home, so calm, so fair;
    Like vanished joys, unprized till gone.
    He sighed -- but now the ceaseless sun
    Warned him to snatch a farewell view;
    Turning, he breathed a warm adieu.
    But the sequestered haunt had power
    To soothe him in the moodiest hour,
    Like holy charm, it lulled to rest
    Each stormy passion of the breast;
    For swells a heart, or strives a will
    To rage, when Nature cries 'be still!'


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             17

    With moral pointed spreads her page
    To woo the wild, instruct the sage,
    Reprove the wayward, rouse the dull,
    And stamp th' immortal truth of Soul!
    Kind monitor -- like conscience, given
    To preach a God, and point to heaven.

      'Twas now that animated time,
    When spring rejoicing rules our clime
    In beauty robes the youthful year,
    No artist's pencil rivals here.
    On earth is there a soul so cold,
    Or fashioned in so rough a mould,
    That warms not, melts not, when the grove
    Is fragrance, harmony and love?
    Not so our trav'ler's; every view
    Was pleasure, as the season new;
    The crystal brook, where osiers sip,
    The rose as sweet as beauty's lip;
    The lofty oak a monarch frown'd,
    But tender woodbine clasped him round,
    And graced, for her support, the tree,
    Like woman in society.
    From blossomed boughs the songsters sent,
    Sublimed as their fine element,


    18                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    Hosannas in each matin song,
    Or brushed with rapid wing along,
    To lure the stranger foot, that near
    Their slender dwellings, raised their fear.
    With nut in mouth, and glance so sly,
    The roguish squirrel darted by;
    A little thief -- yet steals he nought,
    Save what instinctive nature taught
    Her law his rule, absolve him then;
    Reason and conscience are for men.

      But past are soon the glade and grove,
    Those scenes of bloom, of peace and love:
    As frowned the world to Eden's pair,
    So awful was the contrast there,
    When Ormond left those haunts of bliss,
    Where Spring was bride to Happiness,
    And o'er the Alleghany's steep
    His rugged course prepared to keep. --
    And wary was his footing held,
    Slowly, yet oft to pause compelled,
    Where scattered fragments, tempest riven,
    And from the rock's huge masses driven,
    Lay heap'd, and choked the broken path,
    Whilst yawned some horrid gulph beneath
    There stubborn guilt must shrink to see
    One step might reach Eternity!


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             19

      But Ormond passed unmoved, or sought
    From every change new fund for thought.
    The cloud that clothed the mountain's top
    Was emblem of life's shifting hope --
    At every view its shades were lost,
    As every hour man's hopes are cross'd:
    And while he reached one pinnacle,
    Still more and more before him swell;
    He mused -- 'Ambition here must sigh,'
    ''Tis thus his wishes multiply.'
    And oft he lingered to explain
    Some fissure's deep and varied vein;
    Admired that strong and subtle force,
    That guides the planets in their course,
    And draws each pebbly particle
    Within the rock's huge mass to dwell.
    He gains the summit -- boundless mind
    Then bursts and revels unconfined!
    Nor for the languid senses waits,
    Nor pauses, nor discriminates,
    Till all the mighty round she flies --
    No barrier, save the bending skies!

      And poor the joys that wait a throne
    To Ormond's, when he called his own
    Such varied prospect rich and grand,


    20                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    Where art and nature, hand in hand,
    Their treasures or their toil display.
    Here hamlets, farms beneath him lay,
    Bright'ning with glow of vernal sun --
    There rivers rushed all foaming on;
    Or winding through the meadows gay,
    Is sleeping warrior, calm they lay.
    At once were groves and forests seen,
    And swelling pastures stretched between;
    The mines whence freedom draws her wealth,
    And industry repays with health;
    And where each yeoman reigns a lord:
    Such spot' can eastern world afford ?

      But shifting with the shifting wind,
    Like fortune's smiles, merit blind'
    The shapeless clouds in volumes vast,
    Borne onward by the rushing blast,
    Their dark and heavy shadows flung,
    And o'er the mountain landscape hung;
    Still gleams of light would intervene,
    As loth to leave the lovely scene --
    These bright as smiles of pity be,
    Those dark as frowns adversity.
    And now, as war would rend the sky,
    The quivering coils of lightning fly --
    Low, deep the thunder burst around,


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             21

    And cave and cliff reverbed the sound!
    The gathering storm drove fierce and fast;
    But, like the spirit of the blast,
    A cloud his robe, a crag his seat,
    Thus Ormond's strains the tempest greet.



    Oh, say, hast thou seen, with a thrilling emotion,
      The mountain mist roll its dark form?
    Or listened, with feelings of awe and devotion,
    As elements mixed in the gloomy commotion,
      And loud rose the voice of the storm


    Then, in those moments of wild breathing sadness,
      How lessened this dim speck of earth!
    Possessions were folly, and pleasures were madness --
    From heaven -- with mingled contrition and gladness,
      The soul hail'd in triumph her birth!

    "What make ye here?" a Hunter cried,
    As, hurrying past, he Ormond eyed --


    22                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    "A strange time this your pipes to sound --
    "Pray, friend, wilt tell me whither bound?"

    "Where wildest wonders may betide,
    "Or fancy lead, or chance may guide."

      "A trav'ler, ha! well, come with me,
    "My roof, my fire, my fare, are free
    "To strangers in such boisterous hour;
    "Come, hasten -- yonder cloud will pour
    In torrents like the cat'racts wrath."
    Then down the steep and flinty path,
    That, scarce accessible to foot,
    Save of wild deer or mountain goat,
    Wound threading round the precipice,
    They haste, till where projecting rise
    The rocks, and form a shelter rude,
    The Hunter's little cabin stood.
    Through open window streamed a ray,
    And shone athwart their broken way
    The human habitation's seal;
    Nor bird, nor beast that signet steal;
    A large bequest, with man they share,
    Empire of ocean, earth and air:
    O'er fire he reigns without control.
    Regent of the material soul.


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             23

    Within, (what oft the splendid haunt
    Of pleasure's polished sons may want)
    A cordial welcome waits -- a friend,
    Their wants to hear, their wishes tend;
    Companion in the jovial chase,
    Or cook, or housewife, all in place.

      Why here, where whirlwinds hold their court,
    And clouds and storms in vag'ries sport;
    Whilst man their empire quits with awe,
    And yields to nature's changeless law;
    And hungry brute unsated flies,
    And stinted vegetation dies --
    Lone, sterile all, should choose to dwell
    These Hunters in their hermit cell,
    Not here it boots us to explain;
    A wilder theme demands our strain.

      The supper served, and fuel pil'd,
    What trav'ler's tales the time beguil'd
    And Ormond, with the ear of youth,
    Delighted heard and deemed them truth;
    The wonderous wild adventures rise
    His ardent dreams to realize.
    And quick each entertainer saw
    His listening look, and breathless awe;
    The eager spirit dye the cheek,


    24                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    And through the flashing eyelash speak,
    With that intense and searching gaze
    Which well the pleased narrator pays.
    The eldest Hunter spoke with ease,
    And he could both instruct and please;
    For scarce a spot had 'scap'd his ken,
    Within the daring range of men,
    From where Niag'ra's thundering roar
    With tremor shakes th' astonished shore --
    (Whilst more astonished, men confess,
    And feel untold, their littleness;)
    To where, with golden rivers fed,
    Sleeps, Mexico, thy inland bed,
    Around that land where Spaniard's fame
    Must weep o'er Montezuma's name,
    Their Captive, Victim, Wealth and Shame!
    Oh, may Iberia's Cortes raze
    That blood-stained name of other days!

      But nothing, with romantic zest,
    Created such deep interest,
    As when the Western wilds they draw,
    Describe those ancient Forts they saw,
    And those huge Mounds where, buried, lie  [2]
    Secrets of dark antiquity,
    So deep that fancy checks her flight,


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             25

    Consigning to Oblivion's night
    Those wonders of the olden dead,
    That speak, beneath our silent tread,
    Of Nations perished -- Kingdoms fled!
    Yes, fled -- and Fable's wildest wing,
    Untired before, can search or bring
    No date, memento, whence to trace
    Their founder, origin or race;
    Not even in Fiction's annals nam'd;
    They flourished -- fell -- unsung, unfam'd.

      Man studies man -- in every age,
    The human forms the noblest page --
    We glance at Nature; but the mind,
    Recoiling, fixes on its kind.
    Examples, precepts, hence we draw
    Of virtue, piety and law,
    And valor glows but in this zone --
    What heroes bleed for Marathon!
    And patriots, till time blots the sun,
    Shall model find in Washington.
    And more would Ormond joy to know
    Who rais'd those mounds -- who rest below?
    Why frowns that wall with warlike head?  [3]
    Or scooped that trench's channell'd bed? --
    Than, though, like sapient king of old,
    He could all Nature's laws unfold,


    26                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    And every varied change she drew,
    From cedar to the hyssop, view.
    These legends on his spirit fell,
    As falls the charm of wizzard spell!
    His weary limbs may be consign'd
    To rest, but his unwearied mind
    Again must every scene review --
    Like lightning from the cloud it flew --
    Each mound and fort and wall is seen,
    As fancy architect had been;
    And, holy prophet's truth to prove,
    The buried bones stern warriors move;
    And Ormond drew, in fair array,
    The order of their battle day;
    And saw (what may not Fancy see
    'Mid rainbows of a reverie?)
    The Chief that through their gateway strode
    His shining armor dyed in blood,
    While foes before his glittering eye
    All cowering fall, or frighted fly;
    And virgins, in their latticed bower,
    Are hymning his triumphant hour;
    And mothers' pious blessings rise,
    Earth's purest off'ring to the skies!
    Visions like these -- oh, who shall dare
    Exclaim, "how weak, how vain they are!"


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             27

    Soft as the summer clouds arise,
    Swift as their changes o'er the skies,
    So soft, so swift such visions move,
    And live the life we fondly love;
    And past, and future, kindle bright
    Beneath imagination's light;
    That taper lit from lamp of heaven
    By Him, who breath'd the spirit given.

    Visions like these o'er Ormond's soul,
    In grandeur, or in beauty, stole --
    He mus'd on these, and 'neath his head
    Felt not the rocky pillow spread;
    Nor heard the groaning wind complain,
    Nor listened to the driving rain;
    And fix'd at morning light was he,
    Through pathless wilds to search and see
    And ponder o'er this mystery.



    [ 29 ]



    A Tale.




      THE home of the Hermit unsheltered did rise.
    Where beetles the mountain, and circles the skies;
    An alien forgotten of men, he abode
    No cat'ress but nature, companion but God.


    And his soul was as lucent as lonely his fame,
    As the bird of the desert, expiring in flame;
    No promise, petition, or wishes were given,
    Save vows to his Maker, and breathings for heaven.


    30                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            


    A sound breaks the stillness, it grows on the ear,
    And eager he startles, all breathless to hear --
    'Tis the call of the eagle, through regions of air,
    Her magnet ne'er varies -- her young ones are there.


    But louder the signal, and nearer, and nigh --
    And the form of humanity crosses his eye --
    Oh, wild rose the rapture, the blood mantling ran,
    When man hailed a friend, and a brother in man!

      The mountain blast, that downward roll'd
    The mist's deep shadows on the wold,
    O'er sighing wood-tops bore along
    The echos of that Hunter's song --
    A parting strain, that, smooth and clear,
    Rung sweet in Ormond's grateful ear;
    And his full soul accorded well
    When bidding, as its cadence fell,
    His hospitable hosts farewell.
    The crowded rout, the ball, the treat,
    And play, where thousand idlers meet,
    Bowing, and smiling with the leer


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             31

    That cries, "I'm glad to meet ye here" --
    Hold not a heart whose pulses tell
    So kind a throb when sounds "farewell."
    Oh, would you share the sympathy
    Of human hearts -- then seek the free!
    Where fashion's follies have not stole
    Or dashed truth's mirror -- but the soul,
    At nature's shrine, a worshipper,
    Responds, dilates and feels with her.
    And now the friendly hands were ta'en --
    Warm hands that ne'er may clasp again;
    And that reflection even now,
    O'er Ormond's fair and ample brow
    A shade of sadness cast -- the while
    On his disparted lips a smile,
    Half gay, half pensive, hung, as they
    Renew'd directions of his way --
    His dark eye followed theirs, and then
    It glanced to thank them o'er again --
    A look -- not volumed eloquence
    Can tell the sound, or teach the sense.

      The devious track, adventures, days
    Of Ormond's pilgrimage, in lays
    Than mine far sweeter, sung, would be
    The noblest strain of minstrelsy.


    32                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    For here were scenes and sweets might vie
    With Tusculum, or Italy --
    And fountains as Castalian clear;
    And silver streams meandering near;
    And grots Egeria's self might haunt;
    And groves that but a goddess want;
    And Muses ne'er, on Attic ground,
    A holier home or temple found
    Than Liberty would guarantee --
    A Tempe fruitful, fair, and free!
    With regions where Apollo's lyre
    In heaven's own ether might respire.

      Oh, may some bard of Mantuan wing,
    That sees to feel, and feels to sing,
    The bold harp strike, and clothe the height
    With Genius' lofty, living light --
    Till the proud swell shall hallowed rise
    Parnassus of the western skies.
    But pass we these, as passed our wight,
    Unnoted, hasty as a flight
    Far more than leisurely survey --
    Not that the beauties of the way
    On his pall'd sense unrelished stole --
    But one strong purpose will control,
    One master motive rule the soul!
    And on his eager, grasping thought,


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             33

    The Hunters' legends had so wrought;
    Those wonders none had dar'd explain
    Held such dominion o'er his brain,
    That nothing pleased, and nought could please
    Till he had seen, examined these.

      So pass'd he, nor his course delayed
    For rippling rill, or verdant shade,
    Or tangled dell, or flowery mead,
    And still his wish outstripp'd his speed,
    And still he hurried, till that mound,
    Turfed wall, and grassy trench he found
    Where the deep forest thickened round!

      If war's red glories cheat the sight,
    Ambition soars an eagle height;
    Or stalks in triumph o'er the field,
    To hid the bleeding victim yield!
    But ye who pant to wreathe your names
    With trophies that the conqu'ror claims,
    Here pause -- and see how large the meed,
    For which ye toil, and groan, and bleed!
    See all these elder warriors have;
    Their triumphs all -- ye see a grave!
    Their sole memorial this -- we may
    (The epitome of marble) say,
    They lived -- for here their works arose;


    34                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    They died -- for here their bones repose
    Oh, Life and Death! what close allies!
    And Death, the conqu'ror, wins the prize --
    Wins, but not keeps; the hour will come,
    When yonder huge and bony tomb,
    Where hundreds piled on hundreds heap,   [4]
    Commingling dust in dreamless sleep,
    Disparted, as the earthquake's yawn,
    Shall yield its human spoils -- the dawn
    Of life immortal -- glorious day!
    That bears Creation's palm away.

      Thus mused, reclining on that grave,
    Whilst aged trees their broad arms wave
    Above -- coevals seemingly
    With dusky forests spreading nigh,
    Our Trav'ler, and his feelings were
    So new, so wildly singular,
    That scarce could he be said to think --
    At least reflection's patient link,
    That step by step conducts the mind
    The arcanum of truth to find,
    Was lost in whirling phantasies,
    The bootless wish, the vain surmise --
    For who, that bears a heart, which e'er
    Imagination's character
    Hath stamped -- but knows, has known the hour


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             35

    When 'neath her all-creating power,
    A fairy world, a name, a form
    Would rise to bless, exalt and charm;
    Whilst unembodied, unexpress'd,
    Or in their revels, or their rest,
    We lock the phantoms in our breast.

      And search this globe from pole to Ind.
    Where summers scorch, or winters bind,
    And man, the pageant of an hour,
    Hath strutted in the pride of power,
    And rose, and fell, (alas! how near
    The car triumphal waits the bier --)
    Imagination's seat were here.
    Here -- where unreaped her harvest grows --
    Here -- where unsung the dead repose --
    And Nature spreads her thousand dyes
    O'er ruin's foul deformities,
    To soften, though not all disguise.

      Oh! that some Muse on me would deign
    To smile, and bending not in vain,
    The glance propitious I might watch,
    And grace, and force, and sweetness catch;
    And blend them in a lay, whose fame
    Were worthy of my country's claim.
    Then those loved children, whose sweet smile


    36                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    Can soften pain and care beguile;
    Whose lisp is music to mine ear,
    My hope, my joy, as being dear,
    For whom I live -- oh, then might they,
    When coffined darkness shrouds my clay,
    "This wrote our mother," cry with pride,
    That heaven's pure seraphs would not chide
    And this enough, nor wish so dear
    Of earth or earthly things absorbs me here.

      But now our theme. -- 'Tis noon, yet glare
    Of sultry suns disturbs not there;
    The checkered beams like fairies dancing,
    Through the green, quivering foliage glancing,
    Seem dimpling on the rose to rest --
    Whose shrub the little linnet's nest,
    And fluttering young conceals, to prove
    No spot so lone, but life and love,
    Supporting, and supported, live;
    Our first, last thought receive, or give.

      And yet the beauties of the spot
    On Ormond's fancy fastened not;
    And here no pleasure could be feign'd,
    But the soft sober stillness chain'd --
    A mute, unearthly feeling prest,
    It was not happiness nor rest;


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             37

    And yet he would not from his breast
    That feeling banish, for it gave
    A deathless vision to the grave!
    A fellowship with fellow-clay,
    Which told him all divines can say --
    We shall not always pass away!
    And then how deep the prayer he sent
    How earnest, yet how impotent --
    To know from whence, and who these were?
    How came -- how perished they? And where
    The archives of their history,
    Their tomes of kings, forgotten lie?
    But vain these wishes throng his mind,
    Vain as yon Circle's end to find!   [5]
    Ages untold have drawn their shroud --
    Nor human powers may pierce the cloud.

      The length'ning shadows eastward lie;
    He lingers still, yet knows not why --
    The wild bird sung her evening strain,
    And wing'd to her lone perch again --
    The red deer cropt the flower and pass'd,
    And reached his nightly haunt at last;
    The fading beams of lingering light
    Had blended in the dun of night;
    The wind was hushed, serene the sky,
    And through the azure vault on high


    38                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    The gems of heaven were glowing pure,
    Like hopes that charm in youthful hour;
    And wrapped in contemplation's dream,
    As Ormond gazed, we well might deem,
    That thus intent, he searched the skies
    For clue to solve those mysteries.

      When lo! on his abstracted soul
    A swelling note of music stole!
    Solemn as midnight's deepest hour;
    Yet sweet as breath of morn its power!
    It trembled -- paused -- and hark! again --
    Was it a hymn from the starry train?
    Or song from some blest sylph of air,
    That courses our rolling atmosphere --
    And sings, the fitful wind to charm,
    Lest blasts the hope of man should harm?

      One moment passed, when rocks the ground --
    Flashes like lightning dart around;
    Or rather, as that shooting gleam
    Which o'er the polar night will stream,
    When fierce Bellona mounts her car
    To shake the earth with frantic war.
    So deemed of old the fearful kind;
    But now the philosophic mind,
    By science wafted, sails the skies,


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             39

    And sees mephitic vapors rise,
    Buoyant and volatile on high,
    A stratum in the fluid sky;
    Till, touched by the reforming flame,
    They blaze, and blend their power and name.

      But now those flashings gath'ring grew
    A lofty, fiery arch, and through
    Its light strange beings flickering pass,
    Like shadows o'er a magic glass --
    Now nearer, more distinct; but still
    Awful and indescribable!
    Creation's heir -- earth's potentate --
    Sole keeper of recorded fate,
    OBLIVION'S shadowy GENIUS sate!
    He breathed sepulchral damps -- his hand
    Stretched forth his all-subduing wand!
    Rayless his eye -- its sunken orb
    Did nought reflect, but all absorb --
    All bright things caught, nor yet was bright,
    As blackness gains no hue from light!
    Nor fattened his lank cheek, though more
    Its prey than evil kine's of yore --
    And ghastly, as the op'ning tomb,
    His furrowed brow, in fearful gloom,
    Frowned, as to antedate our doom.
    Of crumbled thrones was piled his seat --


    40                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    Crowns, sceptres, 'scutcheons 'neath his feet
    Lay trodden with the vilest things:
    OBLIVION sanctifies not kings!
    And wreaths the hero's brow that bound,
    And deathless named, were strewn around
    All withered as the weeds which die
    When Siroc breathes his blasting sigh --
    And trophies, that like virtue shone,
    Yea, trophies that a heaven might own --
    Records of science, wisdom, worth,
    All scattered -- they were all of earth,
    And therefore perished, not the deed --
    That gains, blest thought! a mightier meed.
    A crown eternal, gemm'd with blood
    Which saved a leprous world, when groan'd the
    Lamb of God!

      Worm-eaten shrouds were waving high,
    His banner and his canopy;
    And through the sighing folds there came
    Music, if it might bear that name --
    A pictured plaint -- a melody --
    The stirring soul of years gone by;
    Conveying to the sense each scene
    As palpably, as if between
    Nor time, nor space did intervene.


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             41

    And thus, as harps of zephyrs play,
    Floated the viewless opera.


    Mortal! from their central home,
    See Oblivion's shadows come!
    Living eye, or ear, or thought,
    Ne'er our sunless empire sought;
    Darkness, silence, evermore
    Brood our vast dominion o'er;
    And our nameless subjects be
    Shadows -- as they glide to thee.


    Millions, countless millions, lie
    Quenched in our eternity!
    Assyria, Persia, Grecia, Rome,
    Moulder 'neath our blackened dome --
    Ashes scattered -- altars crushed,
    Are our incense -- off'rings wished --
    And beneath our temple hid
    Is the towering pyramid.


    42                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            


    Mortal! with a steadfast eye,
    Canst thou mark our worship high?
    And thy cheek unblanched appear,
    Whilst our victims wait thee here?
    Then attend -- before thee, lo!
    The portal opens -- but our blow,
    Mortal, dream not thou canst flee.
    Oblivion soon will shadow thee.

    And now recede, in waving light,
    Those flitting phantoms, whilst more bright
    Than eastern monarch on his throne,
    A splendid city, rising shone!

      The queen of love from ocean ne'er
    Might with this ocean queen compeer;
    As proudly girdled with the wave,
    That scarce her haughty feet might lave,
    Her towering walls the clouds arrest,
    And giant shadows on the breast
    Of billows flung -- while far away
    Cities and towns and gardens lay --
    And thousand rills are sparkling bright,


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             43

    Rejoicing as yon awful height,
    Where frosts and snows eternal reign,
    They 'scape, and foaming seek the plain,
    And gently through that Eden stray,
    As sportive as a child at play --
    Till on the ocean's swelling breast,
    As wearied with their race, they rest.
    Two moles, with huge, projecting sweep,
    Stretched their broad arms athwart the deep;
    And sheltered in their safer tide,
    Vast navies near that city ride --
    A thousand varied pennons wave,
    A thousand ships their tribute gave;
    From every land the merchants meet,
    And pride, and power, and riches, greet,
    And in their crowded marts they show
    All luxuries we name or know --
    Meanwhile more sweet than these to see,
    Rung forth this airy melody!


    Hail, queen of the nations
    That shineth afar,
    The mother of commerce,
    The mariner's star!


    44                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    Hail Tyre, in thy glory!   [6]
    Thy merchants are kings,
    And earth, at their bidding,
    Its trafficking brings!


    The lofty Libanus,
    That proppeth the stars,
    Beholdeth no rival
    In commerce or wars;
    And valleys, that nature
    Hath dyed, at his foot,
    In tints fair as fancy,
    Thy colors can suit.


    All climates, all ages
    Thy grandeur prolong,
    The praise of their sages,
    The pride of their song --
    "Hail, queen of the nations,
    "That shineth afar,
    "The mother of commerce,
    "The mariner's star!"


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             45

      The harbor next was Ormond's view,
    When forth a warlike squadron drew --
    The quick oar flashes, banners wave;
    They move to glory, or the grave!
    Their foes with equal ardor burned,
    Oft worsted, they as oft returned,
    With gathered strength from every blow,
    Like great Alcides' earth-born foe --
    Revolving years had but renew'd
    This ancient, unforgotten feud;
    And now with mightiest force they frown,
    And haughty Tyre shall yield her crown; --
    So deem they, as out-numbering far
    Her utmost strength, they close in war.

      No Tyrian trembles at the sight,
    Or shrinking, safety seeks in flight;
    He combats 'neath his city's walls,
    In her proud service, fights, or falls --
    Hearth, Altar, Throne -- all, all are set
    On this stern battle's chance. -- They met!
    Oh, death, destruction! how ye raged,
    When ship to ship, close grappling, waged
    The dreadful conflict! Havoc dyed
    With purple streams the briny tide,
    As engines hurled, with thundering power,


    46                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    Bolts, blocks, stones, chains -- a deadly shower!
    The falling corpses strew the wave,
    At once their shrouding sheet and grave:
    Masts shiver! shattered barks around
    Are swallowed in th' abyss profound!
    And Ormond scarce suppress'd a groan --
    When through the vex'd wave, dashing on,
    A proud ship pass'd -- her streamers fly,
    (The Tyrian purple) and on high,
    In arms resplendent, shone their Chief --
    Oh, 'twas a sweet, though short' relief,
    To turn from slaughter's maddening ways
    And on this youthful hero gaze!
    And when majestic he arose,
    And flashed his bright steel o'er his foes,
    Not Mars a mortal form could wear
    More worthy of a worshipper:
    Yet Venus might her graces seek
    On his fair brow and florid cheek;
    And though his bold eye scanned the fight,
    As keenly as the falcon's flight;
    Each movement, each manoeuvre knew.
    And seized occasions as they flew;
    A kindlier, softer feeling shone
    When his quick glance would rest upon
    That city's battlements -- and then


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             47

    He dashed amid the fight agen.
    From his nerved arm the javelins fled --
    Stern chieftains join the nameless dead!
    Onward his vessel flies, and now
    Grapples his mightiest foeman's prow;
    He gains the deck -- he fights -- 'tis won!
    His en'mies fly, and flying shun
    The fierce encounter -- all is done!
    But then the martial music's swell
    The veriest coward's heart might tell.


      The midnight blast
      The forest pass'd,
    And riv'd the groaning oak;
      Nor yet so strong,
      It swept along
    As joined the battle shock!


      The lightning flash'd,
      The billows dash'd --
    And awful was the hour --
      But war's red hand


    48                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

      And stern command
    Have more appalling power!


      And long may Tyre,
      On loftiest Iyre,
    Her Hero's deeds recite;
      How he met the foe'
      And his the blow
    That turn'd the doubtful fight.


      And Tyre is free --
      Her wall the sea --
    Her guard the Hero's breast --
      But the baffled sword,
      Of Bab'lon's lord
    May canker in its rest.

      And now unfold that city's gates,
    Where laurelt'd mirth in triumph waits;
    Through the far blazing streets, the throng;
    With joyous gestures, pour along;
    The bonfire's spiral flame rolls high,


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             49

    And seems to threat th' incumbent sky;
    The maskers, revellers are free
    T'enjoy a licensed jubilee,
    Whilst Tyre no foreign sway shall own,
    But sits a queen on ocean's throne.
    Ah, happy! but for tyrant's will,
    That o'er her destinies is still
    The sovereign. -- Yet perhaps he may
    Allow, unchecked, one holiday,
    To those brave subjects, who have stood
    And sealed their fealty with blood.

      Around, what spacious palaces,
    Enchanting as Aladdin's, rise!
    Revealed amid that brilliant light;
    That lent magnificence to night,
    And to sublimity, delight:
    And one with more refulgent glare
    Arrested Ormond's gaze, and there
    A scene an anchoret might charm,
    Or stern misanthropy disarm.
    It was a bridal night -- but rare
    Such, as these happy lovers were,
    At Hymen's fane may plight their troth,
    Whilst mutual faith cements the oath.
    And then the mien so nobly grand,
    And that expression, bold, yet bland,


    50                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    That o'er the bridegroom's features play'd,
    At once the Tyrian Chief display'd --
    The hero who in battle day,
    Had borne the loftiest palm away:
    Far dearer prize is now his own,
    Thought Ormond, as he gazed upon
    The faultless form and lovely face
    Of his fair bride. -- To Hebe's grace
    And youth, such innocence she join'd,
    Such angel purity of mind
    Was in her speaking eye express'd,
    As might have bade distraction rest.
    But then a pensive air would steal
    O'er features, that each thought reveal,
    As that bright eye her mother's met,
    In whose fond looks was such regret,
    That one might almost think the feast
    A fun'ral, not a bridal, graced.
    Her father, too, though princely pride,
    And air august could better hide
    His warm emotions, yet 'twas plain,
    'Midst the magnificence, that pain
    Would sometimes cross him. -- Wherefore this,
    'Midst the festivity of bliss?

      No cause to Ormond's mind was clear,
    Save parting with that child so dear --


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             51

    Their only one he judged, no other
    Around appear'd; no sister, brother --
    And she a paragon, and well
    Might love's regretting tear that fell,
    Excuses plead from her belov'd
    Although her choice their hearts approv'd:
    Thus oft our warmest wishes, priz'd
    And sought, are sorrow realiz'd.
    But pleasure, with electric sway,
    Presided in that circle gay;
    Nor fears, nor cares disturb their mirth;
    And few such blissful scenes on earth,
    Where happiness with splendor vies
    To form an earthly paradise.
    And whilst of nectar, gods might taste,
    The golden goblets foaming pass'd,
    Exhilaration's laughing train
    Commenced the revels of their reign --
    All pleased, all pleasing; joys that be
    Reciprocal, and though they flee
    Lightly as gossamer, are still
    An antidote for present ill.
    Earth's Lethe -- but to earth confined,
    The potent potion oft will bind,
    Like Circe's cup th' immortal mind.


    52                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    Not now, however, mourn we this --
    'Twas just the cheerfulness of bliss,
    The artless, reckless, fearless smile,
    That joys in joy, and free from guile,
    (A throb, kind reader, hast thou known?)
    Makes others' happiness its own.
    The heaven of earth -- Philosophy --
    The gold of virtue's alchymy,
    That, unalloyed with feelings base,
    Reflects the gen'rous soul upon the face.
    And thus, as Orpheus' lyre again
    Were breathing, rose the flowing strain.


      Hesper sleeps light
    On the sleeping billow --
      Hymen this night
    Spreads his softest pillow;
      Sweetly will rest
    Tyre's guard and glory --
      Brave Arvon blest
    With his graceful Cora!


      Music floats round
    Like zephyrs of even;


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             53

      Dear as the sound
    That ushers to heaven --
      Kindred and friends
    With rapture are greeting;
      Harmony bends
    O'er the holy meeting.


      Springs there a flower
    In this world of winter?
      Smiles there an hour
    When no sorrows enter?
      Is there a bond
    Of pleasures that fly men?
      'Tis love's respond
    To the vows of Hymen.

    In Ormond's ear the strain still rung,
    His chain'd eye on the vision hung,
    Nor saw he that a messenger,
    Swift as an arrow cuts the air,
    Had gained the portal; now in haste
    He stands an uninvited guest
    Amid the festal group, -- and see


    54                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    They start as if eternity
    Had summoned them with loud alarms!
    The fainting bride her father's arms
    Receive, and consternation, grief
    And fear, despairing of relief,
    One moment reigned -- that interval
    When fancy saw destruction fall --
    No panoply to ward the blow;
    No hope to 'scape the vengeful foe --
    Oh, we may feel, but not express
    That dread! 'Twas death's deep bitterness
    All eyed the Hero -- still he bent
    O'er his pale bride, as if he meant
    To reassure her with his smile.
    Then, as a lion in the toil,
    Roused his fierce spirit, flashed that sword,
    In every peril still his guard!
    The father, interposing, seemed
    As one that shrunk from what he deemed
    The only course of safety now,
    Which their stern fortune would allow.
    His daughter to his bosom clung --
    Then round her mother's neck she hung
    And he to calm their trembling fears
    Stifled his own -- but bitter tears


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             55

    That final parting wrung -- whilst low
    The sighing tones, as dirges. flow!


    Now keen be thy weapon,
      And firmer thy hand,
    A foeman is coming,
      Few warriors withstand;
    With slaves he's surrounded,
      They strike at his nod --
    O'er victims astounded
      He frowns as a god!


    And, Arvon, thy peril
      In fight, thy renown;
    Thy virtue and valor
      But deepen that frown --
    The tyrant suspicious,
      With envy is curst;
    He feels himself vicious,
      And fancies the worst.


    56                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            


    A glance in the mirror,
      Oh, Cora, how bright!
    E'en prudes might have pardon'd
      Thy smile at the sight --
    And that beauty hath gained thee
      Thy monarch's soft sigh --
    But dear is the forfeit!
      Thy Arvon must die.


    Yet, Arvon, one refuge
      Remaineth for thee;
    Oh, proudly thy gallant ship
      Cleaveth the sea!
    Her streamers are flying,
      Her white sails expand;
    And staunch are thy rowers,
      As steel to thine hand!


    Then fly, fly with Cora!
      Though trackless thy path,


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             57

    The surges are kinder
      Than kings in their wrath --
    Though rude rock the billow;
      Its breakers will be
    Of safety the pillow
      For Cora and thee.

    Then through the darkest streets fast flying,
    Like trembling guilt when danger 'spying,
    Was hurrying now that chief, who late
    Had seemed omnipotent as fate!
    But though as shunning death he flew;
    Yet ever and anon he threw
    A wrathful glance, and then would clasp
    His sinking bride with firmer grasp --
    Whilst sorely do her maidens sigh,
    Their home and happiness to fly.
    They reach the port, the bark -- the sail
    Unfurl'd now flutters in the gale!
    That ship, his conquering theatre,
    Must now the homeless exile bear. --
    Fortune's reverse! too often proved
    By bravery, followed, flattered, loved;
    A thankless monarch's boon to those
    He hates as friends and fears as foes.


    58                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

      But e'er the swift propelling oar
    Had borne him from that long-loved shore,
    One last and lingering farewell look
    (And Ormond's followed his) he took
    Of that proud city. -- Uproar frown'd,
    Where mirth but now had wanton'd round;
    Guards, soldiers marshalling -- the sight
    Rais'd Arvon's ire to frantic height;
    His chafed soul spurned the dastard flight!
    And his clenched hand on high he flung,
    But on that arm his Cora hung --
    And oh, what flinty heart might brook
    That tender, that beseeching look!
    So he were safe, she would not grieve
    Home, parents, country all to leave.
    He was her hope, and he her all,
    And Tyre might flourish, or might fall
    Unwept, unenvied. -- Could a sigh,
    That thus a wanderer he must fly,
    From Arvon's bosom swell, 'twould prove
    He were unworthy of her love.
    That love which, true to him alone,
    Had spurned the trappings of a throne;
    And happy still with him to dwell,
    The palace fled to share his cell.
    This was affection -- and the glance


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             59

    Beaming from his bold countenance;
    The tenderness, the gratitude,
    That every sterner thought subdued,
    Told that for her, even flight he'd brave --
    Nor sigh, might he his Cora save.

      But where will that lone bark be driven --
    The anchor hope, the compass heaven!
    See how the dark waves, rippling, break,
    While flashes far the foaming wake!
    Loud swells the breeze, recedes the shore,
    And rowers quit the useless oar.

      Will morn some sheltered harbor show,
    Where rest, refreshment wait? ah, no!
    Bright glows the sun; but billows blue
    Still bound the wide horizon's view;
    Onward, and onward, see she bears:
    Nights frown -- days dawn, nor land appears --
    Or seen, 'tis but the rugged rock,
    Where eddies, surfs, their landing mock!
    And still the strong, unvarying gale
    WESTWARD drives the fleeting sail;
    And skies serene, and billows smooth,
    Smil'd, as they would their terrors soothe;
    And stretching round the vast expanse,
    Far as the straining sight could glance,


    60                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    No object, not a speck was seen,
    Save that blue sky, those billows green.
    So calm, yet awfully sublime,
    It looked a resting place for Time,
    Where, leagued with silence, he might reign;
    Nor change disturb the wide domain.

      But now to greet and safely guide
    This wonder o'er the lonely tide,
    Around see dolphins circling play,
    Then gaily darting, lead the way;
    As sea-nymphs 'fore their goddess' car,
    When Neptune's trident sway'd afar;
    And from their writhen shells the song
    Might still entrancing steal along.


    When Phoebus' glowing chariot wheels
      Adown the west in glory,
    Is there a world his radiance feels?
      Or waste of waters hoary?
    Oh! nature smiles his beams to greet,
      And spreads her fairest blossom;
    And pleased the spring and summer meet,
      And frolic on her bosom.


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             61


    Then, Arvon, wide thy canvass spread,
      And woo the breeze so cheerly;
    Be Tyre, and all her minions fled,
      Nor prize her pleasures dearly:
    Thy western Eden will repay
      All present sighs and sorrow;
    And who would weep a gloomy day
      That promised fair to-morrow ?


    Within the gay, umbrageous hall,
      All rich with Flora's treasure,
    Shall Cora on her handmaids call,
      And tread the mazy measure;
    Or list, reclining 'mid the grove,
      While summer gales are sighing,
    The warbling melody of love,
      To nature's smiles replying.


    4 The city's haunts are fair to see
      Where wealth attends on fashion;


    62                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    But nature's lonely majesty
      Ennobles every passion.
    'Tis there the prisoned spirit soars,
      There feeling, fancy brighten;
    Nor land more blest, than in the west
      Can Phoebus' rays enlighten.




    And hence Columbia's first inhabitants,   [7]
    The authors of these monuments of old;
    And their destruction, I may sing perchance
    If haply this, my tale, so featly told,
    Escape Medusan critic's withering glance,
    And in my country's favor live enroll'd,
    As not unworthy of her smile -- but this,
    A hope I may not cherish -- or dismiss.


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             63


    Small means and opportunities are mine,
    The poet's tempting, toiling heights to scale;
    And should I quit the nurs'ry for the nine,
    The men might justly censure, women rail;
    Nor, when my infants smile, can I repine,
    Or seek for pleasures new in vigils pale --
    Nor study, nor a still retreat, have I;
    My seat, my cradle's side, with pratt'lers by.


    But, verse, I love thee; and thou art to me
    The Midas' wand that turneth all to gold;
    And when before me thy bright fancies flee,
    And all thy matchless images unfold,
    Nor sickness, sorrow then remembered be --
    My Esculapius thou, whose hand doth hold
    The elixir of the heart, and thus I live:
    Oh, that to others' hearts thou couldst a cordial give!


    [ 65 ]

    N O T E S.


    [1] "Makes like poor Trenck, some pet his care."

      See the anecdote of Trenck and his mouse, in the life of that unfortunate and eccentric personage.

      [2] "And those huge Mounds, where buried lie."

      Numerous mounds and forts of earth have been discovered in the western states, and particularly in the state of Ohio. The place where they commence is in the western part of the state of New-York, near the southern shore of lake Ontario; from thence they extend in a southwesterly direction through the western states and territories, and terminate in Mexico. The mounds vary in magnitude vastly from each other, and also in shape. Some are of a conical figure, ending on the top in a point, and as steep on the sides as the dirt could be made to lie; others are of the same shape except that they present a flat area on the top, like a cone cut off at some distance from its vertex, in a plane coincident with its base or with the horizon; others again are of a semi-globular shape.


    66                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

      Many of these mounds are composed of earth of a different quality from that found in their immediate vicinity. This circumstance seems to indicate that the earth of which they were composed was transported some distance. It is believed, from the best information, that the largest of all the mounds yet discovered, is the one adjoining Big Grave creek near the Ohio river, 14 miles below Wheeling. This mound is about 33 rods in circumference, at its base. Its perpendicular height is about 90 feet; on the summit is an area of nearly 60 feet in diameter; in the middle is a regular concavity, the cubical content of which is about 3000 feet.

    [3] "Why frowns that wall with warlike head?"

      The fortifications throughout the western country consist of a circular wall composed of earth. Sometimes, though rarely, the form of the fort is elliptical, and a few of them are square. Their height is almost infinitely various. Some of them are so low as to be scarcely perceptible; some are from 20 to 30 feet in perpendicular height, while others are of an intermediate elevation. But the wall of the same fort is, pretty uniformly, of the same height all around. They are likewise equally various in the contents of the ground they enclose: some containing but a few perches; others nearly 100 acres.

      The number of their entrances or gateways varies in different forts from one to eight, or more, in proportion


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             67

    to the plan of construction and the magnitude of the enclosure. The walls are mostly single; but in a few instances forts have been found consisting of two walls parallel, and adjacent to each other. As to their local situation, it is generally on an elevated site of ground, adjoining a river, or stream of water. Some, even among the most learned men, have controverted the idea of their having been designed for forts; but a strong argument in favor of this is, that they appear in a majority of instances, to have been constructed on such advantageous and commanding ground as a skilful military tactician would have selected for military positions. The first military men now living in the United States have examined some of the works, and uniformly declared their opinion to be, that they were military works of defence.

    [4] "Where hundreds pil'd on hundreds heap."

      The mounds in the western states appear, generally, to have been the cemeteries of the ancient inhabitants. On opening these tumuli, unnumbered human skeletons are discovered, in different stages of decay. Some are entire, others scattered and confused. On a few of the skeletons the toe and finger nails were nearly entire; the hair long, fine, and of a dark brown color. From the fineness and color of the hair, we must conclude they were of a different race from the Indians.


    68                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

      The "Big Grave" is one of the most august monuments of remote antiquity. Its circumference, at the base, is three hundred yards; its height, ninety feet, and its diameter at the summit is forty-five feet. This lofty tumulus has been opened sufficiently to ascertain that it contains many thousands of human skeletons.

    [5] "Vain as you Circle's end to find."

      One of the most remarkable collections of these fortifications is at Circleville, the chief town of Pickaway county, Ohio. There are two forts, one being an exact circle, the other an exact square. The former is surrounded by two walls, with a deep ditch between them; the latter is encompassed by one wall, without any ditch. The circle is 69 feet in diameter, measuring from outside to outside of the outer wall; the square is exactly 55 rods, measuring the same way. The walls of the circular fort were, at least, 20 feet in height, measuring from the bottom of the ditch, before the town of Circleville was built. The inner wall was of clay, taken up probably in the fort; the outside wall was taken from the ditch which is between these walls, and is alluvial, consisting of pebbles worn smooth in water and sand, to a very considerable depth, more than fifty feet at least. The walls of the square fort are at this time, where


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             69

    left standing, about 10 feet in height. There were 8 gateways, or openings, leading into the square fort, and only one in the circular fort. Before each of these openings was a mound of earth, perhaps four feet high, 40 feet in diameter at the base, and 20 or upwards at the summit. The mounds are exactly in front of the gateways, and doubtless were intended for their defence.

      As this fort was a perfect square, so the gateways and their watch towers were equi-distant from each other, and on a right line parallel with the wall. The walls of this work vary a few degrees from north and south, east and west; but not more than the needle varies, and surveyors have from this circumstance, been impressed with the belief that the authors of these works were acquainted with astronomy.

      From the appearance of the round fort, there was, evidently, a row of pickets around the inner wall, when this work was originally erected, and this fact clearly indicates that this fort was intended for a military station, by the ancient inhabitants.

      The trees which are growing upon these, and upon all the forts and mounds in this country, are apparently of equal age and size, and those which have fallen are in equal stages of decay, with those in like circumstances, in the surrounding forest.

      This circumstance incontestibly proves the great antiquity of these stupendous remains of former labor and ingenuity.


    70                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    [6] "Hail Tyre, in thy glory."

      This famous city, from which I have taken the liberty to draw the ancient inhabitants of America, was built, according to Josephus, by the Sidonians, 240 years before the building of the temple of Jerusalem; 1112 before the birth of our Saviour, or about that period when Samuel judged Israel. Tyre was, for a long period, one of the most rich and powerful cities in the world. It was entitled the Queen of the Sea; its inhabitants first invented navigation, and their industry and ingenuity, combined with the very advantageous situation of their city, made it the centre of all the trade in the universe. It was built on an island, about a quarter of a league from the continent, and surrounded by a wall 150 feet in height.

      Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, laid siege to Tyre at the time that Ithobalus was king of that city; but did not succeed in taking it till after a siege of 13 years. It was during this period, that the supposed migration of my hero took place.

    [7] "And hence Columbia's first inhabitants."

      Various are the opinions respecting the origin of those ancient inhabitants who have left such indubitable traces of their industry and civilization in America. That these mounds and fortifications were not the works of the ancestors of our present race of Indians, is universally


                                THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                             71

    conceded; but by what people, or at what time, they were erected, are secrets, the philosopher and antiquary have vainly attempted to discover.

      "It is the opinion of many judicious persons, that a number of Asiatics crossed Behring's strait, and proceeded S. E. as far as the Ohio; and that these forts were constructed to defend them from the natives, by whom they were finally overpowered, or with whom they eventually intermixed."

      But is this supposition probable? Or, would a company, in quest of a favorable and fertile country, have surmounted the difficulties and dangers incident to so lengthy a journey, over almost impassable mountains, and across deep and dangerous rivers; burthened, as they must have been, with some provisions for subsistence by the way, and some indispensable requisites for commencing their new settlement? They could not, like the hordes of barbarians, that overrun and destroyed the Roman Empire, be allured by the prospect of plunder; but must either form and execute some regular plan to occupy and cultivate anew country; or be driven, by fortuitous circumstances, to fix their abode in America. It is not, certainly, among the present inhabitants of the south part of the continent of Asia, that we should look for the brave, hardy, patient and enterprising spirit which forms the character of the adventurer.

      As conjecture is the only proof that can be adduced for any opinion respecting the first origin of the ancient inhabitants of our country, perhaps the muse may be pardoned if she has hazarded a different one than had before been advanced. The great antiquity of the works


    72                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    in question, renders it necessary to resort to some early period, in the history of nations, as the time of their erection; while the knowledge and skill, evidently employed in their construction, as conclusively proves, that the settlers emigrated from a country, where the arts that embellish and defend communities were for that age of the world well understood.

      We may rationally conclude that they were acquainted with astronomy; and they have left, on a grand and extensive scale, perfect specimens of circles, squares, octagons and parallel lines. They also possessed the art of working in metals. Ornaments, wrought from gold and silver; and weapons and utensils from iron, steel, and copper, have been discovered. Their manufacture of potter's ware appears to have been extensive, and many specimens are as excellent as any made at the present time. They likewise burnt brick, and polished marble. They lived in villages or cities; and had "walled towns," forts, altars or temples evidently constructed with great labor and ingenuity.

      They could not be savages, according to our idea of the term. May we not rather imagine them to be exiles from some powerful eastern nation, or city, that flourished at an early period of the world.

      In the selection of Tyrians for my adventurers, I was guided, merely by the circumstance of their superiority in maritime knowledge, connected with their power, wealth, and enterprising industry. Since writing my poem, however, I have learned that there is a tradition, that Hanno, a Carthagenian, came ages ago to America. Mr. Seldon, also, in his description of the Caraibs who


    73                             THE  GENIUS  OF  OBLIVION.                            

    inhabited the Antilles, conjectures, that they might be descendants from some Phoenicians or Carthagenians driven by accident to the West-lndies. He remarks, "that there is no difficulty attending the belief, that a "Carthagenian vessel with both men and women on "board, might have got into the trade winds, and been driven by them to the West-lndies; where, feeling the impossibility of returning, they might have formed a settlement."

      Now Carthage, it is well known, was a colony from Tyre, and it is but reasonable to conclude that the inhabitants of the mother country would possess equal skill in navigation, and enterprize in adventure with their colonists. At least, according to Mr. Seldon, there can be no "difficulty" in supposing the voyage of my Tyrian hero, across the Atlantic, without chart or compass, possible; and this, as the muse is always allowed in the details, the privilege of "poetica licentia," is perhaps sufficient.

    THE  END.

    (Pages 74-147 not yet transcribed)


    Transcriber's Comments

    The Genius of Oblivion

    The Author, Sarah B. Hale

    (under construction)

    Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879) ...


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    last revised Apr. 12, 2008