Select poems
L. H. Sigourney
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So, here thou art in ruins, brilliant Vase,
Beneath my footsteps. 'Tis a pity, sure,
That aught so beautiful, should find its fate,
From careless fingers.
Fain would I divine
Thy history. Who shap'd thy graceful form,
And touch'd thy pure, transparent brow with tints
Of varied hue, and gave the enamel'd robe,
Deep-wrought with gold?
Thou wert a costly gift.
Perchance, a present to some fair young bride,
Who 'mid her wedding-treasures nicely pack'd
Thee in soft cotton, that the jarring wheel,
O'er the rough road careering, might not mar
Thy symmetry. Within her new abode,
She proudly plac'd thee, rich with breathing flowers,
And as the magic shell from ocean borne
Doth hoard the murmur of its coral-caves,
So thou didst tell her twilight reverie, tales
Of her far home, and seem to breathe the tones
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Of her young, sportive sisters.
'Tis in vain!
No art may join those fragments, or cement
Their countless chasms.
And yet there's many a wreck
Of costlier things, for which the wealth of Earth
May yield no reparation.
He, who hangs
His all of happiness on beauty's smile,
And, 'mid that dear illusion, treads on thorns,
Heeding no wound, or climbs the rocky steep
Unconscious of fatigue, hath oft-times mark'd
A dying dolphin's brightness at his feet,
And found it but the bubble of his hope,
Disparting like the rainbow.
They who run
Ambition's race, and on their compeers tread
With fever'd eagerness to grasp the goal,
Beheld the envied prize, like waxen toy,
Melt in the passion-struggle.
He, who toils
Till lonely midnight, o'er the waning lamp,
Twining the cobweb of poetic thought,
Or forging links from Learning's molten gold,
Till his brain dazzles, and his eye turns dim,
Then spreads his gatherings with a proud delight
To the cold-bosom'd public, oft perceives
Each to his "farm and merchandise" return
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Regardless of his wisdom, or perchance
Doth hear the hammer of harsh criticism,
Grinding his ore to powder, finer far
Than the light sand of Congo's yellow stream.
—Yea, 'mid earth's passing pilgrims, many a one
Of its new gained possessions, fondly proud,
Doth, like the Patriarch, find his seven years' toil
Paid with a poor deceit.
Crush'd Vase, farewell.
I thank thee for thy lesson. Thou hast warn'd
That the heart's treasures be not rashly risk'd
In earthen vessels, but in caskets stor'd,
Above the wrecking ministry of Time.