To the Reader - To the Blessed Virgin Mary - To My Friend - The Wild Muse... - To My Harp - To My Muse - The Nook - My Dream - Sympathy - Virginal Chastity - Encouragement - Perseverence - The Wise Virgin - To My Friend... - To Nature, My Mother - A Sacred Thing is Poetry - America, My Country

Wild Flowers

Father Adrien Rouquette

The Reader

    Dear reader, it has been related of St. Teresa that, without having ever studied the rules of prosody, she suddenly composed several stanzas of genuine and most refined poetry: an instance which evinces, very strikingly, the old yet ever new saying, that we do not become, but are born poets: nascuntur poetae.
    Do not ask me then, why and how it happened that I wrote poetry in a language, as it were, unknown to me: --I cannot tell myself! --But, if you insist and urge an answer, the only explanation I can give, though it may seem rather poetical, and satisfy but few, is this: --the spirit of one I knew not, I saw not, I saw not, but dearly felt and will never forget, a mystic and inwrapping spirit breathed within me; and my soul was sweetly wrought into a kind of rapture. I remember it well, it was, for the first time, in the month of May, the month of the blessed Mary,

The month of light and flowers,
Of green and shady bowers; --

    I was then as if irresistibly, though pleasingly, impelled to write in that unknown language; --an ethereal and serene atmosphere, a burning and luminous fluid, a mysterious dew of light, ros lucis, as sayeth the prophet Isaias, descending from heaven, pervaded my nervous, faint and feverish frame, and penetrated my very heart's core; --I felt oppressed; --I took my pen and wrote: --and thus was brought to light this little book of poetry; --thus bloomed spontaneously these Wild Flowers, which I now usher into the world.
    The verses I have been advised to publish are all that I ever wrote, and perhaps will ever write, in English, unless my mystic Muse, my invisible and heavenly messenger breathe again within me her enrapturing spirit of sacred love and poetry.
    During the last year, how often had I sighed and exclaimed, with the royal bard of Israel: who will give me the wings of the dove, and I will fly and be at rest? --I had sighed and longed for peace and solitude, for a dwelling-place in the remotest desert; but sighed and longed vainly, until the month of May. In that flowery and sunny month, I at last retired to Bayou Lacombe, my Thebaïs, the land of my mother and my boyhood's land, --my shelter and my nook; I fled from the dusty and tumultuous city, there to roam and muse, amidst balmy shrubs and odoriferous plants, in the lonely, ever-green and harmonious groves of aged oaks, dark cedars and lofty pines; --and there it was, during the lingering hours of twilight, while the mystic and mellowing hues of the sky were blending into slow-coming darkness, there it was that I felt the mysterious working of a poetical rapture, and was visited by the mild and swaying Messenger. Over my head was magnificently spread the blue and starry canopy, the trees of the forest were motionless, not a breath whispered through the moon-glittering leaves and the pensile moss, and nature stood absorbed in calm meditation; --all around, the watchful and restless songsters, the hidden and melancholy whip-poor-wills were heard, at a distance, alternately answering each other, in the deep, silent, still and awful solitude. Far from the city, separated from all society,

Alone with Nature and alone with God,
In wildest woods by men profane untrod,

    I wrote to give way to a swelling spirit of depressing sorrow, of deep and discouraging sadness, --deep, concentrated and unsoothed by human sympathy: --and what could man do for one who has chosen God for his only friend, who cares so little about this low and narrow earth, this cold and fleeting world of dreams and shadow? --for one who says daily and hourly: "life is not unhappiness, whilst I am willing to suffer; yet how happy I should be to die! --Oh! how prolonged is my sojourn, my exile, in this dreary and unwatered wilderness! --Oh! when shall the love of God dissolve all earthly ties, and set free the heaven-aspiring soul?" --I wrote, because I could not do otherwise; my thoughts and feelings gushed forth and flowed, like a stream of living waters winding through the desert. Witnessed and heard by none, except by the friendly Indian, then did I exclaim at last, with moistened eyes and bounding heart, then did I cry out exultingly to the startling echoes: "O solitudes, how sweet and dear, how smiling and blest, how flowery and fruitful you seem, in your unlimited extent! The city is to me a gloomy prison, and you seem a paradise! Here, I meet and speak with God; here, I meet and walk with angels, as with brothers! --O desert-places, who has ever known you, and has not felt your charming loveliness and your delightful power; --and has not said: here, --here is the land of rest, flowing with milk and honey!" --And then only, by that sudden burst, by that uncontrolled and poetical effusion, then only was my heart relieved of its oppressive spirit of sadness, and my soul roused up and revived in its divine spirit of faith, of hope and love, --of study, prayer and enthusiasm.
    Were I to reap but that benefit from my verses, am I not greatly repaid for them? --What other recompense, if any, may I then desire and expect from the very few, from two or three congenial minds and hearts? --there is but one: --sympathy!
    To these I bring my desert blossoms, my Wild Flowers; and I give them for what they are, and what they ever will remain: The spontaneous productions of an exotic and uncultivated garden, --scentless, formless, soon to fade and be scattered by the cold and nipping breath of either public praise or fastidious censure.
    And now, what else can I say to you, dear reader, in conclusion of this short address; what can I say to close, unless it be that you may forget these Wild Flowers, after having perused them, as those you have so often met with, and looked upon but with indifference, when crossing a vast desert, and gazing around, as you sauntered, more heedless than a roving Indian, in the unbounded and bloomy prairies of the Far-West. Yet, should you, perchance, notice and cull but one of them, well pleased with its artless beauty and its wild perfume; and should you inshrine it in a fostering bosom, and kindly wrap it in the softest folds of an embalming memory, let my anticipated gratitude be here expressed; let it overflow my heart: we so seldom meet with that genial and sheltering benevolence, with that generous hospitality, in our days of cold, hard and unmerciful selfishness.

New Orleans, October 20, 1848.


Ave, maris stella,
Monstra te esse metrem,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.
(Offic. Beate Maire.)

The fairest flow'rs in deserts bloom:
Though none there be to cultivate,
They lavish still their wild perfume:
Would that my verses match'd their fate!

But from their blissful solitude,
A wooing breeze has wafted them;
And now in cities, unbedewed,
Ah! Who shall prop each drooping stem?

Who house them, 'neath a shelt'ring wing,
From soiling dust, and with'ring blast;
Who shall defend from envy's sting,
An stainless, save them all at last?

'Tis thou, O Queen of Muses chaste:
Whate'er is holy, fair, divine,
The humblest boon, all flow'rs are blest,
If brought and offered at thy shrine:

These flow'rs I then, with spirit pure,
These lays, O Queen, I offer thee!
Oh! guard my soul from glory's lure;
And to protect, be e'er with me!

In all my struggles with the world,
With fiends unseen, unfelt, though great,
With demon-spirits, thunder-hurled
From realms of light to darkest state;

In dreadful hours, when driven far
On stormy sea, for e'er, as now,
Be thou my safely-guiding Star;
My soul-protecting Shield, be thou!

BAYOU-LACOMBE, Sept. 21, 1848


….But what is writ, is writ,-
Would it were worthier! but I am not now
That which I have been.-

Oh! that I could your language write,
As you do mine,
In mystic, sacred words I might
My soul inshrine;

Again I might, in golden rhymes,
Let flow my thought;
But I have been in distant climes,
And there forgot!

Oh! that I could your language rule,
As I did once,
With graceful stress, as when at school,
Each word pronounce; -

In hallowed songs of joy or gloom
Our souls would blend,
And ev'ry verse should spring and bloom,
At my command:

But now, in vain, although to please,
Attention strives
To wake the words, like clust'ring bees,
In mem'ry' hives:

As when at school, I speak no more
Your mother tongue;
Nor can I sing a tuneful lore,
As once I sung!

New Orleans, Nov. 22, 1847.


O beata solitude,
O sola beatitudo!

My graceful sisters, list to me;
I come to crave for sympathy;
No flow'ry wreaths I ask of ye;

I ask no laurels ever-green;
Ambitious never have I been:
A smile is all I hope to win!

Ye know me well, ye sisters mild:
Of pensive mood, and strangely wild;
As bashful as an Indian child,

I turn away from crowds with fright;
I dread all public praise or light;
In solitude I most delight….

My graceful sisters, list to me;
A smile is all I ask of ye:
Grant but that smile, and blest I'll be!

Bayou-Lacombe, May 28, 1848


The harp, my sole remaining joy!

Awake, my harp; my sacred harp, awake!
Hush, sighing rushes, nightly whisp'ring reeds;
Hush, solemn murmur of majestic pines,
Lamenting breezes in the mossy oaks,
And on the shore the music of the waves;
Hush, restless watcher, moanful whip-poor-will;
All voices, loud and low, of nature, hush!
To greet my Muse in wild ecstatic joy;
To soothe with harmony my fev'rish pulse;
To let my feelings gush and flow in rhymes;
To spurn at earthly things, and soar on high,
In regions ever-pure of light and love;
To sing of Nature, God and Solitude;
The language of my native Land so dear,
The language once I spoke, an orphan boy
In old Kentucky, dark and bloody ground,
The language of my youth I must resume….

Awake, my harp; my sacred harp, awake!
Too long thy chords unstrung and moist have been,
Unstrung and moist with tears and fragrant dew,
Awake, awake, and sigh harmoniously;
In holy strains pour all thy sweetest notes;
As words heart-melting of a friendly voice,
On silvr'y sand as purling brooks unseen,
Or dying echoes in the distant pines,
Pour all thy melodies to charm my woes.
Awake, and sound to rouse my ling'ring soul,
My soul imprisoned in its carnal frame;
Imprisoned, yet, with hope and love sublime,
Aspiring still to wing an angel-flight!

And thou, O faithful Muse, arise and come;
Arise, and smiling wipe away my tears;
I feel so lonely, sick, and sad by all,
But God and thee, unknown and unconsoled!

Bayou-Lacombe, May 19, 1848


Oh! ever loving, lovely and beloved!

Crowned with a beaming diadem of stars,
In sweeping robe of snowy white attired,
And with a stainless lily in thy hand,
My Muse, my only friend, my vestal bride,
Art thou a child of Eve, of sinful flesh;
A vulgar, mortal-born and wedded child?
Not so! --- Thou art a daughter noble, chaste;
A highly gifted child, of heav'nly birth;
A God-anointed, consecrated maid!
Thy thoughts, thy feelings, words, and all in thee,
Thy smile, all breathes a spirit most divine.
In the bright halo that surrounds thy head,
Genius and virtue blend their glorious rays; ---
And as thou stately walkest, angel-like,
Arrayed in beauty and in holiness,
Thou leav'st behind thy steps a trail of light,
A stream of love celestial, and of bliss; ---
And as thou comest on, my raptured soul
Thy coming greets, as that of spirits fair,
Of smiling messengers from the worlds above.
Thy form is beauty; harmony, thy voice;
Thy mind, thy heart an overflowing spring,
A sacred fount of living waters deep,
Where, day and night, my soul may slake its thirst,
Its thirst of science, poetry and love . . .

Hail then, O chaste and noble offspring, hail!
Hail then, O daughter fair, O heav'n-born Muse,
O highly gifted maid, O mystic child
Of beauty, poetry and holiness;
Hail then, my only friend, my virgin bride:
I bow and stoop in silence at thy feet,
Subdued and conquered by the awful spell
Of holiness and mild virginity;
Unworthy most to greet, admire and praise,
I bow and stoop in silent humbleness.

Bayou-Lacombe, May 6, 1848


L'humble coin qu'il me faut pour prier et chanter.
The humble nook where I may sing and pray.

The nook! O lovely spot of land,
Where I have built my cell;
Where, with my Muse, my only friend,
In peacefulness I dwell.

The nook! O verdant sea of bliss,
My shelter from the blast;
Midst deserts, smiling oasis,
Where I may rest at last.

The nook! O home of birds and flow'rs,
Where I may sing and pray;
Where I may dream, in shady bow'rs,
So happy night and day.

The nook! O sacred, deep retreat,
Where crowds may ne'er intrude;
Where men with God and angels meet
In peaceful solitude;

O paradise, where I have flown;
O woody, lovely spot,
Where I may live and die alone,
Forgetful and forgot!

Bayou-Lacombe, May 21, 1848


Oh! that the desert were my dwelling-place!

A roving child in solitude,
Alone with God alone,
I long to haunt the wildest wood,
By all but God unknown;

I long to dwell where lilies blow,
Where moans the whip-poor-will;
Where silently my life should flow,
As flows the desert rill….

But 'tis a dream,--ideal dream!
As oft in legends told;
Well, as it is, oh! let it seem:--
Reality's so cold!

Bayou-Lacombe, July 8, 1848


Væ soli: wo to him that is alone!
(Eccles. 4.10)

Two souls by God united,
Oh! what and who can sever?
With blissful hope unblighted
They soar intwined for ever.

All men are doomed in bitterness
To cross life's dreary wilderness;
But wo to him who fares alone:
He dies a most unhappy one:

To guide in life, assist, console,
Each spirit claims a sister-soul,
Congenial partner of its fate,
In desp'rate wo, or joy elate:

There is a link, 'bove nature wrought,
'Bove flesh and blood, a mystic knot,
By which two souls for ever join
In faith, in hope and love divine: --

Ah! flesh and blood, say, what are they?
All nature, what, but dust and clay?
The only bond, which men, nor time,
Nor death dissolves is love sublime;

'Tis love through Mary's sacred heart,
Where souls unite no more to part;
Unite in adamantine ties,
Eternally to sympathise!

Bayou-Lacombe, May 25, 1848


Prima Trias virga est,

Tota pulchra es, amica mea; et macula non est in te.
Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee.
(Cant. Of Cant. 4.7.)

O quam pulchra est casta generatio cum claritate.
O how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory!
(Wisdom 41)

O maidenhood, O snowy chastity,
O thou, ethereal gem, angelic boon,
Whatever lustful men may say to soil,
Unfit thy purity to feel and praise;
There is in thee a mild yet awful sway,
A heav'nly pow'r, a dignity supreme;
In thee, there is a spirit and a spell,
A winning charm of seraph-gentleness:
Thou are the fairest, loveliest child of grace!
Tired in a royal, splendid robe of light,
The richest diadem on earth is thine!
Meek and serene, though stately in thy step,
So candid, smiling, graceful, yet so grave,
So fixed in duty, resolute and strong,
O'er hearts and minds thy sway is still divine!
Heav'n-born, in heav'n with comeliness to reign,
Eternal like the hole Three in One,
Thou claim'st the promised crown of martyrdom:
All weddings soon must cease with life and flesh:
Virginity unchangeable shall last,
Unchangeable throughout eternity!

O maidenhood, how great thy privilege,
The Lamb immaculate to follow close,
An new-framed anthems to his glory sing!
In dart antiquity, in ev'ry age,
How great thy privilege; thy away, how mild!
The pagan pontiff, prophetess and priest,
Thy sibyl, vestal and the sacred Nine,
All sainted bards were crowned with hole oak,
And all revered as virgins, or as chaste!
E'en now, how great thy privilege on earth;
Thy away o'er hearts, how awful, lovely, meek;
Thyself, how praised, though yet unpraised as meet;
Unpraised, unworshipped, followed but by few!

Virginity, how name thee, --nameless yet? --
Thou art the mystic salt, the fragrant myrrh,
The precious balm, of sweet and heav'nly scent,
Whose virtues, from corruption guarding pure,
To flesh impart most glorious attributes!
By thee, frail man, exalted and transformed,
In youth for e'er renewed, and phenix-like,
Becomes a hero in his thoughts and deeds;
Becomes an angel, and almost a god!
Thou art the source of all ecstatic joys;
The spring of virtue, genius, holiness,
Of life and peace, --unutterable peace!
God's spirit, breathing love in solitude,
In solitude with stainless lilies pleased,
God's spirit, more familiar, speaks to thee,
And all his secrets to thy heart reveals!

O maidenhood, heroic chastity,
To vow, to consecrate and persevere,
Thou need'st an adamantine soul and will!
Like amber, unconsumed, but purified,
Or salamander-like, by fire unhurt,
Through fumy flame thou passest white and safe! --
All earthly, sensual joys, thou deemdst too base;
All lust, thy godly pleasure is to curb!
Subdued, proud nature cowereth at thy feet;
And, though reluctantly, the worst admire;
The flesh-fiends and the world, they shameful foes,
All blush; but fain in envy would defile, --
Thy fair renown with calumny would taint!

Bland spirit-child, who could thy worth extol,
Thy beauty, meekness, grace and po'r divine?
Who could, in strains sublime, and yet unsung,
With voice mellifluous, and heav'n-strung harp,
What must, what angel could thy glory tell?
What man, what hell-born fiend thy brightness cloud?
The world, with sceptic smile, may speak and scoff;
The world, corrupt in thoughts, in words and deeds,
The world impure may speak to blemish thee:
But still thy name is bless'd by holiest men;
With rays undimmed, celestial, mystic-hued,
Still beams the glorious halo round thy head!
Angelic queen on earth, immortal bride,
Thy beauty far surpassseth all we view;
In nature there is nought so fair, so bright,
That may afford an image to display: --
Thou art what lilies seem in bloomy fields;
What seem,--O most unmeet comparisons! --
'Mongst noblest birds the eagle and the dove,
Stars in the skies, the snow on highest mounts,
The glitt'ring dew on desert flow'rs untouched,

Pearls in the deep, midst metals virgin gold;--
Veiled in thy beauty, humble though a queen,
Thou art, among thy wedded rivals proud,
What sparkling diamonds seem midst lesser gems;--
And e'en,--why not thy excellence proclaim? --
Thou art above the angel, far above;
For, wrapped in flesh, and lured by carnal lust,
On earth still tempted, and victorious still,
Thou stand'st upright, undaunted heroine!
By sin unstained, thou lead'st an angel's life,
Less happy, yet by virtue more than he;
Yes, more than he, a spirit pure and safe,
From passions free, and settled now in bliss!

But, to thy growing fame, O chastity,
To thy unfading beauty, glory, worth,
To make thee known, and being known admired,
Though strained, and high-attuned each quiv'ring chord,
Great my attempt, as great as I am weak,
To thy renown, O spotless child of grace,
What have I sung, what may I sing again?
My voice, how faint; unechoed, all my notes;
How scattered by the wind my leafless flow'rs! --
Thy worth, all eloquence, all poetry,
All words exceeds! –Why then, why write and sing? --
I drop my pen;--I cease to strike my harp;--
With snowy lilies fraught to strew and deck,
I kneel in silence at thy sacred shrine;
I kneel, and bow, and humbly worship thee! --
Yes, though I cannot love, admire and praise.

As thou shouldst be; though vain what I have sung,
What I may sing,--I'll arrive to imitate;--
A faithful worshipper, in mind and soul,
I'll follow thee on earth, in heav'n to meet,
In heav'n with thee eternally to reign!

Bayou-Lacombe, Sept.. 28, 1848.


Be resolute and calm.
O fear not in a world like this,
And thou shalt know ere long,
Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong.
(Voices of the night, F. W. Longfellow.)

Among so many daughters chaste,
If there be one of God more blest,
A chosen one more saintly fair,
Oh! May this hymn encourage her:

"Arise, O noble child arise;
By all thy deeds the world surprise;
All joys terrene with scorn reject:
Thy fate is that of an Elect!

Arise, O sacred bride, arise;
The world and worldly things despise;
Remember and fulfil thy vow:
A thorny crown awaits thee now!

Arise, O mystic dove, arise;
And freed by grace from carnal ties,
On wings seraphic, mount and soar
'Bove fleeting shadows evermore!

Arise, O sister fair, arise,
And tempt with me the higher skies;
Arise, for there is nought on earth
Can fill our souls, of heav'nly birth!

Arise, O angel-like, arise;
On earth, each blossom droops and dies;
All forms, all beings change and fade:
To cling to earth, thou wert not made!

Arise, O chosen one, arise,
And wing thy hopes to Paradise;
On high, in spheres serene of light,
On high, behold thy halo bright!"

Bayou-Lacombe, July 9, 1848


What thou art, thou art!
(Imt. Of Christ.)
B. II. Ch. 7.

Though the strained mast should quiver as a reed,
And the rent canvass flutt'ring strew the gale,
Still must I on!………………………… (BYRON.)

Though cursed by all for virtue's sake,
My radiant sun;
Though stung by envy's hidden snake,
"Still must I on!"

Though charged with crimes by calumny,
Dark scorpion,
Of all that's pure foul enemy,
"Still must I on!"

In all my bitter woes and fears,
Though left alone,
And though my heart should steep in tears,
"Still must I on!"

Though blamed by those who should protect,
Approved by none,
In thorny paths, with the Elect,
"Still must I on!"

To persecute, though all agree,
Ah! There is One,
A friend above, who cries to me:
"Still must thou on!"

Yes, though thy life in wo should end,
In wo begun,
To heav'n, thy realm, thy blissful Land,
"Still must thou on!"

Bayou-Lacombe, May 25, 1848

And one of the prudent ones.

Maria optimam partem elegit quae non
Auferetur ab â.
Mary has chosen the better part, which
Shall not be taken from her.
(ST-LUKE, CHAP. 10, 42.)

Say, are they fled, forever fled,
The golden days of St. Ambrose?
Where may I find a sainted maid,
A sister of our heav'nly Rose?

If any where thou be, blest child,
Fair hidden one, where'er thou be,
However far they desert wild,
This song of mine shall wend to thee:

"O child of Mary, humble bride
Of Mary's son, O spotless dove,
While evil, sceptic men deride;
While others doubt;-believe and love!

The crown of virgins is thy crown;
Thy vow, the most heroic vow;
Thou art a wise and prudent one;
A glorious light is round thy brow!

Arise, thy cross to take and bear;
With sailing lips and mind serene,
Thy thorny crown of Christ to wear;
Arise, and be a martyr-queen;

A martyr-virgin here below,
A queen in starry seats on high!
Oh! dwell midst thorns where lilies grow,
In solitude to love and sigh!

Let not the world thy heart beguile;
With eyes intent on Zion's height,
Behold thy happy sisters smile;
Behold, and upward bend thy flight!

New Orleans, July 20, 1848


Qui non accipit crucem suam, et
sequitur me, not est me dignus.
He that taketh not up his cross, and
followeth me, is not worthy of me.
(St. Matt. 10,38.)

Sweet flow'r of light,
The queen of solitude,
The image bright
Of grace-born maidenhood,

Thou risest tall,
Midst struggling weeds that droop: --
Thy lieges all,
They humbly bow and stoop…..

Dark-coloured flow'r,
How solemn, awful, sad! --
I feel thy pow'r,
O king, in purple clad!

With head recline,
Thou art the emblem dear
Of woes divine;
The flow'r I most revere!….

The lily white,
The purple passion-flow'r,
Mount Thabor bright,
The gloomy Olive-bow'r,

Such is our life: --
Alternate joys and woes,
Short peace, long strife,
Few friends, and many foes!….

My friend, away
All wailings here below;
The royal way
To realms above is wo!

To suffer much
Has been the fate of Saints;
Our fate is such: --
Away, away all plaints!

BAYOU-LACOMBE, Sept. 24, 1848


Dear Nature is the kindest mother still.

O nature, pow'rful, smiling, calm,
To my unquiet heart,
Thy peace, distilling as a balm,
Thy mighty life impart.

O nature, mother still the same,
So lovely mild with me,
To live in peace, unsung by fame, --
Unchanged, I come to thee;

I come to live as Saints have lived,
I fly where they have fled,
By men unholy never grieved,
In pray'r my tears to shed.

Alone with thee, from cities far,
Dissolved each earthly tie,
By some divine, magnetic star,
Attracted still on high,

Oh! that my heart, inhaling love
And life with ecstasy,
From this low world to worlds above,
Could rise exultingly!

Mandeville, July 28, 1848


Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion.
(Ps. 64. 1.)

Ab Jove principium Muse….

O blessed boon of heaven,
Sweet poesy! Impart
To me the skill that's given,
To touch the generous heart, --
Rich melody to pour
O'er bosoms that I love,
Awakening thoughts that soar
Earth's darker scenes above;
And when, life's struggles done,
My spirit-flight I wing,
Oh! Be this favor won--
Thy strains in heaven to sing!

In this cold, money-hearted age of prose,
So frowning stern, so hostile to the Muse,
Enrapt, my harp I seize again and strike,
To sing: A sacred thing is poetry!
The Muse, unfearing, by the altar stands;
And, priest-like, in the temple sings the bard:
A sacred thing is poetry! --Inspired,
The Church that godly language ever praised,
And ever deemed a most celestial gift;
With incense, myrrh and flow'rs, with offerings pure,
The faithful bard his song may offer too;
Immortal Lover of the Beautiful,
The Church has ever greeted with a smile
The child of song reclined upon his harp;
When all around was mould'ring into dust,
And hordes barbaric rushed from northern climes,
With treasures fraught, midst universal wreck,
Alone she stood, the refuge of the Arts!
'Tis known at last, while, in the Middle-Age,
While knowledge seemed in sable shroud involved,
And darkness brooded o'er the human race,
Through winding paths of labyrinths obscure,
To lead, as an eternal shining star,
Alone the guiding torch she held aloft!

A sacred thing is poetry! --Of old,
The bard was pontiff, prophet, judge or king:
The bard, in present days, is still the same;
The harp of David quivers in his hands!

O say, ye sainted bards of ancient times,
With priesthood crowned, and higher dignity;
With purple robes, and amethysts adorned;
Say then, ye followers of Homer's steps,
Who did with brightest flow'rs inwreathe the truth,
And pour in rhymes a stream of harmony;
Say then, immortal bishops, popes and priests,
Whose songs have echoed down from age to age,
With tuneful chords if God have gifted me,
If he have breathed his spirit through my soul,
And touched my lips with inspiration's flame,
Say, can it be that mute I should remain,
And on the willow must I hang my harp,
Beneath its mournful leaves to sigh and weep?
Oh! No! --And far from cities, far from crowds,
From men perverse and persecuting still,
Compelled by this cold money-hearted age,
In some vast desert, wild, remote, I'll fly;
And there, in freedom, peace and solitude,
I'll sing: A sacred thing is poetry!
And there, harmoniously attuned to mine,
Each voice of nature shall resound aloud,
To sing: A sacred thing is poetry!

Bayou-Lacombe, May 25, 1848.


Breathes there a man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart has ne' er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he has turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand!

Beneath the brazen sky of climates remote,
Where every saddening thought with tears I wrote;
In all my roamings through each foreign land,
Without a mother's love, without a friend,
In exile sorrows, bitter, deeply felt,
How oft my tearful, ling'ring eyes have dwelt
Upon the setting sun the glorious West,
O sweet AMERICA, my country blest!!

Though past the sacred age of Prophets, Seers;
Though faint may fall and die upon all ears
Each song predictive and each mystic lay;
Though heedless all,I'll speak and prophesy!

America,--'tis not a poet's dream,
A vain, delusive hope, as it may seem,
Of one who loves too much, to judge aright;--
America thy stars are glory bright!
Those stars I watch intent, and I rejoice!
With sight intuitive, prophetic voice,

Thy fate I now foresee, I dare foretell:--
On earth, thy destiny is to excell;
To sway in science. Arts, Religion,--all!
Thou risest now in youth, while others fall!
While vainly struggles now each sinking realm,
Of time's great vessel fraught thou hold'st the helm!
Upon thy giant states, with awe and praise,
Through Ocean's vast extent, all Nations gaze;
They gaze with admiration, but with dread;
For now they feel o'er them a shroud is spread!--
Sole heir, thy name they speak in agony;
They stretch their sceptered hands, to grasp at thee!
They feel thy crushing pow'r:-an instinct sure,
An inward voice reveals thy fate obscure;
They know, and shrink;-- the annals they have read
Of Nations' rise and fall, of Empires dead!
'Tis God's decree unchang'd, 't will be for e'er:
Men, cities, realms appear and disappear;
To worlds grown old, new worlds in strength succeed: --
America, 'tis now thy doom to lead;
Thy right, to wield the sceptre and command;
Thy rank, the greatest 'mongst the great, to stand;
Last-born, as others rose, thou risest not;
And with thy fall, the book of Nations 's shut! --
In climes of light, the human race begun;
The human race shall end where sets the sun;
The tomb shall be, as was the cradle, blest;
And bright with orient hues, the golden West!

America --'tis not a poet's dream,
A vain, delusive hope, as it may seem,
Of one who loves too much, to judge aright:
Heart-link'd, thy many States in one unite;
With thunderbolts to strike, thy Eagle flies,
And high exults in light, where none descries;
O'er the blue waves, the icy, stormy seas,
Thy countless fleets are swept by prosp'rous breeze;
And on electric wings, thy name renowned
Afar has flashed, --for ever to resound!

O sweet America, my country, --hail!
On earth thy destiny is to excel;
To sway in Science, Arts, Religion, --all;
Alone to rise and reign, while others fall!

But here, I close my book; --'tis my last strain; --
I cease my song, --but to resume again! --
Upon a race of Mammon, pride and lust, --
My sandals wiped, --before I shake the dust;
Before the swift Olivia wafts me o'er,
To my embow'ring grove, on distant shore;
Before I flee, for peace and solitude,
To the unknown and angel-haunted wood,
To wild Bayou-Lacombe, or Bónfouca,
Thy name be my last word, America!!

NEW ORLEANS, October 1, 1848.

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