« PreviousContinue »
The Rev. Carlos Wilcox was born in Newport, New Hampshire, on the 22d of October, 1794, and his youth was passed in Orwell, Ver
After graduating at Middlebury College, in 1813, he studied divinity at Andover, and he was subsequently, as his precarious health permitted, a minister of the congregational churches in Hartford, Danbury, and other places, until his death, at Danbury, on the 27th of May, 1827. His principal poems are “ The Age of Benevolence," and the Religion of Taste," both of which are included in the collection of his works published soon after his death. Wilcox was pious, gentlehearted, and unaffected and retiring in his manners. The general character of his poetry is religious and sincere. He was a lover of nature, and he described rural sights and sounds with singular clearness and fidelity. In the ethical and narrative parts of his poems, he was less successful than in the descriptive ; but an earnestness and simplicity pervaded all that he wrote.
Who scorn the hallowed day set heaven at naught.
Heaven would wear out whom one short sabbath tires.
Emblem and earnest of eternal rest.
A festival with fruits celestial crowned,
A jubilee releasing him from earth,
The day delights and animates the saint.
It gives new vigor to the languid pulse
Of life divine, restores the wandering feet,
Strengthens the weak, upholds the prone to slip,
Quickens the lingering, and the sinking lifts,
Establishing them all upon a rock.
Sabbaths, like way-marks, cheer the pilgrim's path,
His progress mark, and keep his rest in view.
In life's bleak winter, they are pleasant days,
Short foretastes of the long, long spring to come.
To every new-born soul, each hallowed morn
Seems like the first, when every thing was new.
Time seems an angel come afresh from heaven,
His pinions shedding fragrance as he flies,
And his bright hourglass running sands of gold.
In every thing a smiling God is seen.
On earth, his beauty blooms, and in the sun
His glory shines. In objects overlooked
On other days, he now arrests the eye.
Not in the deep recesses of his works,
But on their face, he now appears to dwell.
While silence reigns among the works of man,
The works of God have leave to speak his praise
With louder voice, in earth, and air, and sea.
His vital Spirit, like the light, pervades
All nature, breathing round the air of heaven,
And spreading o'er the troubled sea of life
A halcyon calm. Sight were not heeded now
To bring him near; for Faith performs the work ;
In solemn thought surrounds herself with God,
With such transparent vividness, she feels
Struck with admiring awe, as if transformed
To sudden vision. Such is oft her power
In God's own house, which, in the absorbing act
Of adoration, or inspiring praise,
She with his glory fills, as once a cloud
Of radiance filled the temple's inner court.
How desolate were nature, and how void Of every charm, how like a naked waste Of Africa, were not a present God Beheld employing, in its various scenes, His active might to animate and adorn! What life and beauty, when, in all that breathes, Or moves, or grows, his hand is viewed at work !When it is viewed unfolding every bud, Each blossom tinging, shaping every leaf, Wafting each cloud that passes o'er the sky,
Rolling each billow, moving every wing
That fans the air, and every warbling throat
Heard in the tuneful woodlands! In the least,
As well as in the greatest of his works,
Is ever manifest his presence kind;
As well in swarms of glittering insects, seen
Quick to and fro, within a foot of air,
Dancing a merry hour, then seen no more,
As in the systems of resplendent worlds,
Through time revolving in unbounded space.
His eye, while comprehending in one view
The whole creation, fixes full on me;
As on me shines the sun with his full blaze,
While o'er the hemisphere he spreads the same.
His hand, while holding oceans in its palm,
And compassing the skies, surrounds my life,
Guards the poor rush-light from the blast of death.
Rousseau could weep-yes, with a heart of stone
The impious sophist could recline beside
The pure and peaceful lake, and muse alone
On all its loveliness at eventide :
On its small running waves, in purple dyed
Beneath bright clouds, or all the glowing sky,
On the white sails that o'er its bosom glide,
And on surrounding mountains wild and high,
Till tears unbidden gushed from his enchanted eye.
But his were not the tears of feeling fine,
Of grief or love; at fancy's flash they flowed,
Like burning drops from some proud, lonely pine,
By lightning fired; his heart with passion glowed
Till it consumed his life, and yet he showed
A chilling coldness both to friend and foe;
As Etna, with its centre an abode
Of wasting fire, chills with the icy snow
Of all its desert brow the living world below.
Was he but justly wretched from his crimes ?
Then why was Cowper's anguish oft as keen,
With all the heaven-born virtue that sublimes
Genius and feeling, and to things unseen
Lifts the pure heart through clouds that roll between
The earth and skies, to darken human hope ?
Or wherefore did those clouds thus intervene
To render vain faith's lifted telescope,
And leave him in thick gloom his weary way to grope?
He, too, could give himself to musing deep;
By the calm lake at evening he could stand,
Lonely and sad, to see the moonlight sleep
On all its breast, by not an insect fanned,
And hear low voices on the far-off strand,
Or through the still and dewy atmosphere
The pipe's soft tones waked by some gentle hand,
From fronting shore and woody island near
In echoes quick returned more mellow and more clear.
And he could cherish wild and mournful dreams,
In the pine grove, when low the full moon fair
Shot under lofty tops her level beams,
Stretching the shades of trunks erect and bare,
In stripes drawn parallel with order rare,
As of some temple vast or colonnade,
While on green turf, made smooth without his care,
He wandered o'er its stripes of light and shade,
And heard the dying day-breeze all the boughs pervade.
'Twas thus in nature's bloom and solitude
He nursed his grief till nothing could assuage;
'Twas thus his tender spirit was subdued,
Till in life's toils it could no more engage;
And his had been a useless pilgrimage,
Had he been gifted with no sacred power,
To send his thoughts to every future age;
But he is gone where grief will not devour,
Where beauty will not fade, and skies will never lower.
And thou, to whom long worshipped nature lends
No strength to fly from grief or bear its weight,
Stop not to rail at foes or fickle friends,
Nor set the world at naught, nor spurn at fate;
None seek thy misery, none thy being hate ;
Break from thy former self, thy life begin ;
Do thou the good thy thoughts oft meditate,
And thou shalt feel the good man's peace within,
And at thy dying day his wreath of glory win.
With deeds of virtue to embalm his name,
He dies in triumph or serene delight ;
Weaker and weaker grows his mortal frame
At every breath, but in immortal might
His spirit grows, preparing for its flight:
The world recedes and fades like clouds of even,
But heaven comes nearer fast, and grows more bright,
All intervening mists far off are driven ;
The earth will vanish soon, and all will soon be heaven.
Wouldst thou from sorrow find a sweet relief?
Or is thy heart oppressed with woes untold ?
Balm wouldst thou gather for corroding grief?
Pour blessings round thee like a shower of gold :
'Tis when the rose is wrapped in many a fold
Close to its heart, the worm is wasting there
Its life and beauty ; not when, all unrolled,
Leaf after leaf, its bosom rich and fair
Breathes freely its perfumes throughout the ambient air.
Wake, thou that sleepest in enchanted bowers,
Lest these lost years should haunt thee on the night
When death is waiting for thy numbered hours
To take their swift and everlasting flight;
Wake ere the earthborn charm unnerve thee quite,