The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

“To***” by Henry William Herbert

It is always a treat to read Herbert’s poetry, for it is unlike his other work. As far as authorship is concerned, he was an outstanding and prolific sportswriter, essayist, translator of the classical languages, prose writer, and editor—he also wrote outstanding poetry. His poems are what really captured my interest in his work, aside from his tumultuous biography; and, although I am saving his especial treasures to feature after the conclusion of my biographical series—which I am tardy on updating—I wish to periodically share some of his other touching or captivating pieces until then. And thus, following “Sunset on the Hudson,” I present “To***”. -Ann Neilson 

To***
Henry William Herbert
The Magnolia of 1837 

WE are not parted—no!—Though never more
Thy cherished form may greet my watchful eye—
Nor thy soft voice speak welcome to mine ear,
Sweeter than summer music.—Seas may roll,
And realms unnumbered stretch their boundless width,
A wearisome gulf between!—Long years of wo
May lag above us, with their icy weight
Freezing the healthful current of our lives!—
Yea, death himself, with blighting fingers cold
May sunder us, not e’er to meet again
On this side immortality! Thy frame
May gently moulder to its natural dust—
Dewed by the tear-drops of lamenting friends—
Mine rot unhonored in a foreign soil,
Without a stone to mark the exile’s head,
Or blessed ministry of holy church
To smooth the sinner’s passage to his God.
Yet so we are not parted!—Souls like ours,
Knit by so strong a harmony of love,
With hopes, fears, sorrows, sympathies the same,
Still commune with each other, twin in one
Indissolubly joined, and yet more near,
When dies the clay, that dims the immortal spark.

“Autumn! thou art with us…” by James B. Marshall, found in the New-York Mirror of 1837

The following article is transcribed from the New-York Mirror of  October 28, 1837, pg. 139. I had recently erroneously misattributed the article to the editors of the New-York Mirror; however, Netherlands scholar Ton F— kindly directed me towards the author and provided the following statement, which I feel is beneficial to the article in its own right,

The real author was James B. Marshall from Louisville KY, at the time editor of the Western Weekly Magazine in Ohio. The piece first appeared in the Louisville City Gazette of Sept 1, 1837, but was written one year earlier. It was called ‘September’, and renamed several times (for instance as Autumn: a Morceau) in many reprints. Marshall wrote the following polite introduction to his piece:
“The season of fruits and falling leaves is here; and seasonably is it ushered in. We have a bright, fresh and balmy day – and a breeze slightly spiced, braced and invigorating, after the heat of summer. One year ago we scribbled a short invocation to autumn. Is it less worthy than it was then? It was but the outpouring of feelings long and still cherished. Some of our cotemporaries flattered its naturalness and made mention of it in complimentary terms. May we be pardoned for repeating this brief evocation?”

-Ann Neilson

Autumn! thou art with us. Already we feel the prickles in the morning air; and the stars shine out with a peculiar lustre. Shortly we shall see the rich tints which thou flingest on the woodlands, and then thy russet livery. And if thou art now bright, and gay, and beautiful, thou art not less lovely when thy hazy atmosphere spreads a voluptuous softness over nature; when the sun himself is shorn of his beams, and, like a pale planet, wanders through the sky. Autumn! with its fields of ripening corn, and its trees laden with fruit, and its vines with the clustering grapes,

“Reeling to earth, purple and gushing;”

and clear, sparkling streams, and salmon-fishing, and field sports is here. Out in the autumn woods! The broad leaf of the sycamore hath fallen upon the streamlet, and hath passed on with its tumbling waters, or disports them where it has rested against some obstruction. The buckeye is bare; the maple is golden-leaved, save where is spread on a field of orange, the hectick [sic] flush which marks approaching decay, or where the sap is yet faintly coursing and a delicate green remains. The oak is of a deep crimson, and the gum even yet of a bloodier hue. Far off on the tall cliff is the spiral pine and cedar, in their eternal green. Out in the autumn woods! when leaves are falling like the flakes in the snow-storm. It is a time for reflection; it is a time for lofty contemplation. The soul is full, if it have the capacity to feel, and it gushes forth, though the tongue speak not. And yet it is irresistible to roam the autumn woods, and listen to the thousand whispering tongues which fill the air. The fulness [sic] of feeling must be relieved by the merry shout and loud halloo. We welcome thee, Autumn! Thou art the dearest to us of the seasons—save the flower-month. We hail thy coming now, not as has been our wont. Since thou were last here, we have lost friends; and in thy wailing winds, and out beneath thy sky, and roaming through thy varied gorgeous liveried wood, our thoughts shall be turned to their memories.

“Sunset on the Hudson” by Henry William Herbert

Untitled

Sunset on the Hudson
By Henry William Herbert
Found in The Magnolia for 1837
(This poem is here paired with its original, featured engraving.)

In the cloud-curtained chambers of the west,
Serene and glorious, he hath sunk to rest—
Immortal giant—but his parting kiss
Hath steeped his earthly bride in holier bliss,
Than when she sunned her in his rapturous ray
Of noontide ardor. Slow they glide away,
The gorgeous gleams that flash from Hudson’s tide,
And paint the woods that gird old Beacon’s side;
Yet round the clouds, that veil the bridegroom’s head,
A fringe of lucent glory still is spread;
While, from the zenith, tints of deeper blue
Steal o’er the bright horizon’s azure hue,
Rob the broad forests of their verdant cheer,
And tinge the silvery brook with shadows clear.
The dewy rushes wave in arrowy ranks,
Now gilt, now gloomy, on the darkening banks;
And snowy sails, that stud the distant river,
Glance, and are lost, as in the breeze they shiver.
There is a thrill in the awakening flush
Of early morn—there is a breathless hush
In fainting noonday—but the faëry space,
That parts the evening from the night’s embrace,
Breathes out a stronger charm, a purer spell,
Bathing the soul in thoughts, that fondly swell
Like sacred music’s melancholy close,—
Sweeter than grief, and sadder than repose.
And is it fancy’s fond delusion only,
That hallows so these woods and waters lonely?—
Or is there in each bold majestic hill
A mighty legend, in each tinkling rill
A whispering voice, and in the wind’s low sigh,
Telling of days and deeds that ne’er shall die?
‘Tis holy all, and haunted!—Each green tree
Hath its own tale, each leaf its memory.
The streams, that knew the Indian’s tread of yore,
The breezy hills, with rock-ribbed summits hoar,
The lordly river, with its ceaseless moan,
Have all a power more potent than their own;
For each and all, with echoing pride, have rung
To the wild peal which freedom’s trumpet sung,
When forth, to shield his bleeding country’s breast,
HE stood—The Cincinnatus of the West—
The founder of a world—whose course was run
All bright and blessing!—like yon setting sun,
Alone of men, HIS youth was spotless seen,
His manhood mighty, and his end serene;
Without one blot to dim his deathless name,
Or bid the nations weep, that watch his fame.