Posts tagged “Uncle Herbert’s Speaker

“The Old Sexton” by Park Benjamin

The following poem was found on the back of the other poem I featured about a week ago from the book titled “Uncle Herbert’s Speaker.”  I guess W.R. Gray loved to read and write poetry.  I found the full poem on the Internet by googling and finding the 19th century editor of “An American Anthology” was Edmund Clarence Stedman. People back in W.R. Gray’s time dealt with risk and death, which is what this poem is about, death… However from the yellowed script I read an additional line, the very last line that was omitted which is: “Gather–gather–gather them in!”

NIGH to a grave that was newly made,
Leaned a sexton old on his earth-worn spade;
His work was done, and he paused to wait
The funeral train at the open gate.
A relic of bygone days was he, 5
And his locks were white as the foamy sea;
And these words came from his lips so thin:
“I gather them in: I gather them in.
“I gather them in! for man and boy,
Year after year of grief and joy, 10
I ’ve builded the houses that lie around,
In every nook of this burial ground;
Mother and daughter, father and son,
Come to my solitude, one by one:
But come they strangers or come they kin— 15
I gather them in, I gather them in.
“Many are with me, but still I ’m alone,
I ’m king of the dead—and I make my throne
On a monument slab of marble cold;
And my sceptre of rule is the spade I hold: 20
Come they from cottage or come they from hall,
Mankind are my subjects, all, all, all!
Let them loiter in pleasure or toilfully spin—
I gather them in, I gather them in.
“I gather them in, and their final rest 25
Is here, down here, in the earth’s dark breast!”
And the sexton ceased, for the funeral train
Wound mutely o’er that solemn plain!
And I said to my heart, when time is told,
A mightier voice than that sexton’s old 30
Will sound o’er the last trump’s dreadful din—
“I gather them in, I gather them in.”

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Liberated Eagle in 19th century poetry

I like the flag of Kazakhstan. I don’t understand the symbolism of it but what I really like is the eagle.  I’ve been on a poetry spell because when it is winter and vacation, one has to read something.  I also suddenly feel philosophical about my lot in life.  Doesn’t everyone at some point?  I like the sun in the Kazakh flag because it provides warmth. Cold, winter and snow may drive us to our knees thinking about what we are doing in a land that is isolated and difficult to get to.  I’m glad I am from Minnesota because it has toughened me to the realities of life in Astana, Kazakhstan.  There’s liberty in flying.  See what this poem is about concerning William Tell. The last part I understand about a liberated eagle, poetry buffs, help me out on the first part of the poem.

William Tell Among the Mountains By J.S. Knowles

from the book “Uncle Herbert’s Speaker” @ 1891

pseudonym Delia Knipe

[Also poem found in “The Orator’s Manual” by George Lansing Raymond thanks to a google search]

Ye craigs and peaks, I’m with you once again!

I hold to you the hands you first beheld,

To show they still are free.  Methinks I hear

A spirit in your echoes answer me,

And bid your tenant welcome to his home

Again! O sacred forms, how proud ye look!

How high you lift your heads into the sky!

How huge you are! How mighty and how free!

Ye are the things that tower, that shine, whose smile

Makes glad, whose frown is terrible, whose forms,

Robed or unrobed, do all the impress wear

Of awe divine. Ye guards of liberty!

I’m with you once again!—I call to you

With all my voice! I hold my hands to you

To show they still are free.  I rush to you,

As though I could embrace you!

Scaling yonder peak,

I saw an eagle wheeling, near its brow,

O’er the abyss in his broad-expanded wings,

Lay calm and motionless upon the air,

As if he floated there without the aid,

By the sole act of his unlorded will,

That buoyed him proudly up. Instinctively

I bent my bow; yet kept he rowing still,

His airy circle, as in the delight

Of measuring the ample range beneath

And round about; absorbed, he heeded not

The death that threatened him, I could not shoot

T’was liberty! – I turned my bow aside,

And let him soar away!

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