Page images
PDF
EPUB

FIFTH SECTION.

POETRY.

A

GREEABLY to the notice, which we gave in our Re

gister for March last, we now present to the reader a poem—" On Gratitude," —which was communicated to us from a lady in Charleston.-We are not permitted to disclose her name ; neither are we allowed to say who is the author of the following verses.

We request the lady, on whom all the loves and graces wait, to accept our sincerest and most heart-felt gratitude for the favour which she has bestowed upon us, in communicating the production of a muse which, at once, charms the fancy and engages the heart.

GRATITUDE.

Where, 'mid Italia's ever sunny lands;
Fast by the streams of Po, Ferrara stands,
At manhood's full extent, now just arriv’d,
In splendid leisure young Cornaro liv'd;
Of Hymen's couch the first, and best belov'd,
Each gift kind nature lent him, art improv'd.
He knew, and lov’d his city, yet would know,
What other cities different had to show;
Eager to gratify his stretching mind,
To one small realm too narrowly confin'd.

To tell his sire his wish, was to succeed;
The son but hinted, and the sire agreed :
And, as became him, full supply'd he went,
And to Livonia first his

way

he bent;
On whose fair shore each distant nation meets,
And fills with various tongues her peopled streets,
Each object, there, his strict attention drew,
Much he observ'd ;-but, still, found something new;
And sought it still, for, knowledge all his end,
Him, who could that advance, he deem'd his friend.

On rich and poor, alike, he cast his eye,
As 'twere a treasure they might both enjoy ;
And he might teach him, who the vessel steerd,
What the rich freighter thought not worth regard.

of graceful presence, and inviting mien,
He, in each place of full resort, was seen ;
On the throng'd quay, or in the busy hall,
And, skill'd in tongues, seem'd countryman to all ;
To observation deep attention join’d,
And fix'd the gather'd honey in his mind.
His lodgings, on a large quadrangle's side,
To him, still thinking, farther thought supply'd ;
And, as each hour of passing day went by,
Some scene, worth note, still met his curious eye.
Yet one, among the rest, he oft had weigh’d,
And, oftenest seen, the stronger mark it made :
For the sad sigh, that keen misfortune drew,
Still to his breast an easy access knew.

As he, each morn, the rising sun beheld,
E'er yet the moving square with crowds was fill'd ;
On one same spot, as still he look'd around,
One solitary wretch he always found :
A porter's garb declar'd his present yoke ;
But his whole mien a birth far different spoke ;
From his swol'n breast sighs, spite of shame, would rise,
And tears, kept back, flow'd faster from his eyes,
Which with a knotted rope he wip'd away,
Sad ensign of his fortune's deep decay.

The youth, who, pitying, saw the frequent grief,
Thought pity blameful, carrying no relief;
And generously curious, sought to know,
In hopes to ease, the stranger's heart-felt wo.
Cornaro call'd him from his wretched stand ;
He came ;-and, silent, waited his command,
Thinking some errand would a mite afford,
Just to support a being he abhorrid;
Which, yet, he durst not, of himself destroy,
Lest heaven should work him still more dread annoy.

But other business fill'd Cornaro's breast,
And his kind suit in tenderest terms he prest.
Begg'd that he would his cause of grief impart
To one, who loy'd to sooth an aching heart,

[ocr errors]

And always thought, however low his sphere,
The man who felt afliction, worth his care ;
But here believ'd, the stroke of fickle fate
Was fall’n on him who'd known a better state.
Then speak,—he said,--por let false shame conceal
Whate'er, with truth, a sufferer may reveal ;
And if my happier lot may ease thy woes,
Whate'er å stranger's ear may learn disclose.

The listening wretch each word with wonder heard,
Perceiv'd them virtue's dictates, and was cheer'd;
Ventur'd to throw his slavish badge aside,
And, thus, with manly confidence reply'd.
I was not always what I now appear,
But truths thy nobleness has challeng'd,-hear.

First-I am a Moslem,—yet, as here confin’d,
Must wish thee, as thy milder doctrines, kind :
0! love thy faith,but hate not me for mine,
Which had, had'st thou been born a Turk,-been thine !

Next,-know,-e'er fall’n to this most abject state,
Smyrna, once saw me happy, though not great ;
By merchandize with sumptuous affluence blest,
And sweet content, which great ones, seldom, taste.
But oh to have been blest, brings no relief;
It adds a stronger, keener pang to grief.-
Forgive these tears, which utter, as they flow;
A son's,-a husband's,--and a father's wo;
To swell each sigh these different passions join;
For all these dear relations, once, were mine.
Nor did the hopes of adding to my store
By lawless plunder send me from my shore ;
To gain in bloody fields a hero's name,
And raise o'er slaughter'd heaps my warrior-fame;

'Twas duty bade me catch the coming gale,
And filial love that hoisted every sail ;
'Twas to a father's fond embrace I went,
E’er yet his lamp of life was wholly spent ;
While still a kneeling son might bless his eye,
And fill his aged heart with all a parent's joy.

For Cyprus, then, I sail'd ;-What since befel,
Let these vile chains,—this abject habit tell ;
Which with for-ever growing grief 1 bear,
And, now, the fourth drear winter sees me wear;

And years may roll on years, unstopp'd my grief,
Till welcome death shall bring his last relief.
And long, ere this sad hour, my friends forlorn
May, drooping o'er my death untimely, mourn ;
My fond, old sire, perhaps, my fate unknown,
Wailing my ravish'd life, consum'd his own;
And what dire pangs my orphan children feel,
Hast thou a tender parent, thou cans't tell.

He ceas'd ;-tears stopp'd his accents ;-and the rest
A silence, far beyond all words, express'd.
Nor spoke Cornaro more, he, too, was mute,
Nor language found his fellow-grief to suit ;
But struggling with a tender, bursting sigh,
Scarcely sobb’d forth,-Friend, take this small supply,
'Twill yield thee some relief;-and were it mine
To give-bliss and liberty should be thine !
He took the gold, and bow'd,—then, slow return’d,
And, as was wont, in silent sorrow mourn’d.

Cornaro see in other guise appear.
Sudden he stopp'd the unavailing tear :
And be,—said he,—my soul, thy joy express’d;
'Tis in thy power to make the wretched bless'd :
Now am I bless'd, indeed, since on my wealth
Depends another's being, freedom,-health.
'Tis I can bid the sun of mercy shine ;
His health, his liberty, his life, are mine :
Whate'er he has of joy, or might receive,
His country, children, wives, are mine to give.
Now, India's lord, amidst his boundless store
And endless mines, compar'd with me, is

poor.
Quick, then, Cornaro, to his ransom flee,
And let this morning's sun behold him free!

Straight to the governor Cornaro went, His name, his rank, his cause of coming sent; Nor needed long to wait :-his errand told, Bringing that ne'er refus'd credential,-gold; The price, requir'd for liberty, he gave ; And quick return'd to find the now but fancy'd slave, And said-Be free !His transport who can tell ? Which only his who caus'd it could excel ; Prostrate, before him, in wild joy he fell ; Gladness, and wonder in his bosom wrought,

}

With lab'ring gratitude his soul was fraught;
Nor had he power to utter half he thought.
Yet,~0, my great deliver!-he cried,
Can such transcendant worth in man reside ?
Or can it be,—that Christian doctrines teach
Virtue's beyond our sacred prophet's reach?
Yet oh !-whate'er the wondrous cause, receive
As much of gratitude as words can give!
Nor let these bursting tears its force destroy,
Slaves late of grief, soft offspring now of joy.
And how my deeds shall with my words agree,
Let me, once, reach my country, thou shalt see,
And know thy generous bounty was not lost;
I scorn to ask thee what my freedom cost:
That,—to my gratitude has no regard-
Up to thy worth I'll measure thy reward.
But can that be ?-Stop, there, Carnaro said,
If you are happy, I am more than paid.
And, lest your happiness should meet delay,
Here's gold, wherewith to speed thee on thy way;
If grateful thou wilt be, at thy return,
Amidst those slaves, who there in bondage mourn,
Search out some Christian, from the wretched band,
Who best may merit freedom from thy hand;
Then, think, 'tis in thy power to pay my debt
By shewing him the mercy thou hast met !

He said, and to his lodgings back return'd,
Honour's bright lamp within him gently burn'd;
Felt and enjoy'd the riot of his breast,
While conscience furnish'd out the noble feast.

As free as air, from prison just broke out,
The Moslem, instantly, the harbour sought;
There found a ship, all trim with swelling sails,
And just prepar'd to catch the fav'ring gales.
Smyrna her port ;—with prosp'rous winds she flies,
And gives him to his home, and former joys.

Livonia, now, as his Ferrara, known,
Where, next, for knowledge, is Cornaro flown?
For a soul's banquet far he need not fly,
Venice, old Ocean’s fairest child, so nigh,
O'er the famd Adriatic, where she stood,
That swells, unenvious of the Tuscan flood;

« PreviousContinue »