Philip Freneau: Poems Poem Text

Philip Freneau: Poems Poem Text

The Indian Burying Ground

In spite of all the learned have said,

I still my old opinion keep;

The posture, that we give the dead,

Points out the soul's eternal sleep.

Not so the ancients of these lands—

The Indian, when from life released,

Again is seated with his friends,

And shares again the joyous feast.

His imaged birds, and painted bowl,

And venison, for a journey dressed,

Bespeak the nature of the soul,

Activity, that knows no rest.

His bow, for action ready bent,

And arrows, with a head of stone,

Can only mean that life is spent,

And not the old ideas gone.

Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way,

No fraud upon the dead commit—

Observe the swelling turf, and say

They do not lie, but here they sit.

Here still a lofty rock remains,

On which the curious eye may trace

(Now wasted, half, by wearing rains)

The fancies of a ruder race.

Here still an aged elm aspires,

Beneath whose far-projecting shade

(And which the shepherd still admires)

The children of the forest played!

There oft a restless Indian queen

(Pale Shebah, with her braided hair)

And many a barbarous form is seen

To chide the man that lingers there.

By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews;

In habit for the chase arrayed,

The hunter still the deer pursues,

The hunter and the deer, a shade!

And long shall timorous fancy see

The painted chief, and pointed spear,

And Reason's self shall bow the knee

To shadows and delusions here.

The American Soldier

A Picture from the Life
To serve with love,
And shed your blood,
Approved may be above,
But here below
(Example shew,)
‘Tis dangerous to be good.

--Lord Oxford

Deep in a vale, a stranger now to arms,

Too poor to shine in courts, too proud to beg,

He, who once warred on Saratoga’s plains,

Sits musing o’er his scars, and wooden leg.

Remembering still the toil of former days,

To other hands he sees his earnings paid;--

They share the due reward—he feeds on praise.

Lost in the abyss of want, misfortune’s shade.

Far, far from domes where splendid tapers glare,

‘Tis his from dear bought peace no wealth to win,

Removed alike from courtly cringing ‘squires,

The great-man’s Levee, and the proud man’s grin.

Sold are those arms which once on Britons blazed,

When, flushed with conquest, to the charge they came;

That power repelled, and Freedom’s fabrick raised,

She leaves her soldier—famine and a name!

On Retirement

A hermit's house beside a stream
With forests planted round,
Whatever it to you may seem
More real happiness I deem
Than if I were a monarch crowned.

A cottage I could call my own
Remote from domes of care;
A little garden, walled with stone,
The wall with ivy overgrown,
A limpid fountain near,

Would more substantial joys afford,
More real bliss impart
Than all the wealth that misers hoard,
Than vanquished worlds, or worlds restored-
Mere cankers of the heart!

Vain, foolish man! how vast thy pride,
How little can your wants supply!-
'Tis surely wrong to grasp so wide-
You act as if you only had
To triumph- not to die!

To Mr. Blanchard, The Celebrated Aeronaut In America

Nil mortalibus ardui est
Caelum ipsum petimus stultitia
-- Horace

FROM Persian looms the silk he wove
No Weaver meant should trail above
The surface of the earth we tread,
To deck the matron or the maid.

But you ambitious, have design'd
With silk to soar above mankind:-
On silk you hang your splendid car
And mount towards the morning star.

How can you be so careless- gay:
Would you amidst red lightnings play;
Meet sulphurous blasts, and fear them not-
Is Phaeton's sad fate forgot?

Beyond our view you mean to rise-
And this Balloon, of mighty size,
Will to the astonish'd eye appear,
An atom wafted thro' the air.

Where would you rove? amidst the storms,
Departed Ghosts, and shadowy forms,
Vast tracks of aether, and, what's more,
A sea of space without a shore!-

Would you to Herschell find the way-
To Saturn's moons, undaunted stray;
Or, wafted on a silken wing,
Alight on Saturn's double ring?

Would you the lunar mountains trace,
Or in her flight fair Venus chase;
Would you, like her, perform the tour
Of sixty thousand miles an hour?-

To move at such a dreadful rate
He must propel, who did create-
By him, indeed, are wonders done
Who follows Venus round the sun.

At Mars arriv'd, what would you see!-
Strange forms, I guess- not such as we;
Alarming shapes, yet seen by none;
For every planet has its own.

If onward still, you urge your flight
You may approach some satellite,
Some of the shining train above
That circle round the orb of Jove.

Attracted by so huge a sphere
You might become a stranger here:
There you might be, if there you fly,
A giant sixty fathoms high.

May heaven preserve you from that fate!
Here, men are men of little weight:
There, Polypheme, it might be shown,
Is but a middle sized baboon.-

This ramble through, the aether pass'd,
Pray tell us when you stop at last;
Would you with gods that aether share,
Or dine on atmospheric air?-

You have a longing for the skies,
To leave the fogs that round us rise,
To haste your flight and speed your wings
Beyond this world of little things.

Your silken project is too great;
Stay here, Blanchard, 'till death or fate
To which, yourself, like us, must bow,
Shall send you where you want to go.

Yes- wait, and let the heav'ns decide;-
Your wishes may be gratified,
And you shall go, as swift as thought,
Where nature has more finely wrought,

Her Chrystal spheres, her heavens serene;
A more sublime, enchanting scene
Than thought depicts or poets feign.

To The Memory Of The Brave Americans

Under General Greene, in South Carolina,
who fell in the action of September 8, 1781

AT Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
Their limbs with dust are covered o'er-
Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
How many heroes are no more!

If in this wreck or ruin, they
Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
O smite your gentle breast, and say
The friends of freedom slumber here!

Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
If goodness rules thy generous breast,
Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
Sign for the shepherds, sunk to rest!

Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
You too may fall, and ask a tear;
'Tis not the beauty of the morn
That proves the evening shall be clear.-

They saw their injured country's woe;
The flaming town, the wasted field;
Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
They took the spear- but left the shield.

Led by thy conquering genius, Greene,
The Britons they compelled to fly;
None distant viewed the fatal plain,
None grieved, in such a cause to die-

But, like the Parthian, famed of old,
Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
These routed Britons, full as bold,
Retreated, and retreating slew.

Now rest in peace, our patriot band,
Though far from nature's limits thrown,
We trust they find a happier land,
A brighter sunshine of their own.

The Vanity of Existence

In youth, gay scenes attract our eyes,
And not suspecting their decay
Life's flowery fields before us rise,
Regardless of its winter day.

But vain pursuits, and joys as vain,
Convince us life is but a dream.
Death is to wake, to rise again
To that true life you best esteem.

So nightly on some shallow tide,
Oft have I seen a splendid show;
Reflected stars on either side,
And glittering moons were seen below.

But when the tide had ebbed away,
The scene fantastic with it fled,
A bank of mud around me lay,
And sea-weed on the river's bed.

Philip Freneau

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