Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day: Two Letters From My Mother

To commemorate Mother's Day I here reproduce two brief letters sent me by my own Mother while still in the prime of my youth.  They are melancholy but sweet.

 Dear Rufus:
                We received your letter on the 21 Dec. [1838], and could I write now as I could once I should have answered it before this; but I am old and not capable of writing at all.  I have a desire to write once more to you…We expect Silas is dead, and where and how he died we know not; but if we had evidence that he was prepared how it would blunt the keen edge of affliction!  Rufus, are you a Christian?  Are you prepared to meet your God?  If not be entreated to set about that important work.  Look away to the blessed Saviour for help…You cannot think how glad we should be to see you and your family—you know not how lonesome we are.  Our family are all gone seemingly.  Chauncy has not been home since some time in the fall.  Permelia has been home once since.  Merrill comes often to see how we get along; he is very good to help your father.  Marcus is living with us.  Chauncy is likewise very kind—he has caused our house to be made very warm and comfortable.  Your father and I enjoy good health for people of our age…
                                Your affectionate mother,
                                                                                Deborah Griswold.

                Although it is a long time since we wrote to you, be assured there is no day passes that I do not think of all my Children…Our family—the most of them, are gone so far from us, it makes us feel very lonesome.  Our little family, consisting of your father, myself and Elizabeth are, through Divine favor, in usual helth and enjoying the necessary Comforts of life.  Merril’s family have been sick, the two yongest very sick…Your uncle Samuel Griswold, his wife and family, are well.  He will be eighty years old in March.  Permelia and family are well.  Eveline was married the 7th of January to Mr. Moody, Merchant in Whitehall.  We have received a letter from Edwin…Chauncy is in Ticonderoga working at [his?] trade.  We likewise had a letter from Orre in the fall…Randolph, we know nothing of him.  Rufus, it will be but a little while when there will be no father’s house to visit; your father lacks but two years of seventy,--I am only two years yonger…May God bless you, my son, and gide you by His holy Spirit into all truth.
                                Your mother and friend,

                                                                Deborah Griswold. [Feb., 1841]

The following family history is taken from the bible of my Mother:

Rufus Griswold born Franklin Conn., March 8 1773.
Deborah Wass born Martha's Vineyard, January 17 1775.
Wed in Hebron Conn., February 17 1793.


Merrill Griswold born in Franklin Conn., March 2 1794.
Wilmot Griswold born in Vermont, Sept. 26 1795.
Pamelia Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., March 30 1797.
Harvey Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., February 10 1799.
Heman Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., December 14 1800.
John Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., August 31 1802.
Orre Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., March 11 1804.
Randolph Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., March 2 1806.
Elizabeth Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., April 12 1808.
Rufus Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., Sept. 18 1810.
Silas Parson Griswold born in Orwell, Vt., Oct. 3 1812.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold born in Benson Vt., February 13 1815. 
Edwin A. Griswold born in Benson Vt., January 17 1817.
Chauncey D. Griswold born in Benson Vt., March 23 1819.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Obituary for Ludwig

The following obituary notice, printed in the "Emerson's Magazine and Putnam's Monthly" published for October, 1857.  It was printed anonymously, but is thought to have been penned by Elizabeth Oakes Smith.

The earthly career of this man has terminated, and, as public journalists, it is needful that we should have something to say of one who has been more widely associated with the literature of the country, and with literary persons, than any one left to us.  We shall say little of the experience of Mr. Griswold, painful as it was, and as full of sorrows to himself as to others.  "Tread lightly upon the ashes of the dead," is a humane and Christian-like proverb.  Creatures of harmony are not often born into the world.  Plato was the gift of the ages, Christ of the eternities; and as yet the earth is burdened with discordant children who see wisdom and goodness as "through a glass darkly."  No one is evil without knowing pain; no one is weak without the pangs of weakness. 

That Rufus W. Griswold was a weak and ill-judging man, no one will deny. As a man, there was much in him to regret; but those who knew something of his last lonely years, his bed of solitary and uncheered suffering, will feel for him only pity, as one who was made to atone deeply for all the mistakes of his life. He left three children, and we much doubt if either of them were with him in his last moments. 

As a literary man, we will now speak of him.  At the time that Rufus W. Griswold commenced his compilations of the “Authors of America,” which he continued in various ways for a period of nearly twenty years, our writers were comparatively little known at home or abroad.  Old models were so much in vogue that a truly home and original product stood little chance of recognition.  The country had not recovered, nor has it yet recovered, from the colonial taint; we were not prepared to honor what was indigenous; the resources of the people had been exhausted in the struggle for our independence.  Then followed a period of comparative repose, in which the commercial, agricultural and educational capabilities of our institutions began to develop themselves, and we were once more thrown back by the aggressions of England, which produced the war of 1812.

Our success then threw the people into ecstasies of self-laudation.  Twice had we, poor and few in numbers as we were, rebuked the pride of the haughtiest nation upon earth.  Our literature necessarily became of the political and patriotic stamp.  Now and then, a man or woman, of so large a life and of such carefulness of  aim that he shot upon the wing, produced a book or a poem, to be read only by the few—an offering of the head and the heart, showing how very vital we are as a nation; but our envious foes, without sympathy for our struggles, without charity for our poverty, and without knowledge of the far-spreading intelligence of the growing masses, asked tauntingly, “Who reads an American book?

We wish to God Americans wrote less, and did more work which should overwrite the ages with national deeds of justice and enlightenment better than any musty tomes or sounding hymns, and which should be as palpable books as any preserved by the hands of the typographer.  Jesus wrote no books, and yet “never man spake as this man;” and the simple writing, when “he stooped down and wrote with his finger upon the ground,” conveyed a diviner lesson of human charity than any record engraved upon marble.

Prior to the researches of Griswold, our people were unacquainted with the richness of material scattered up and down the country through the periodicals of the day.  The learned professors of our colleges were often men of no mean genius, and did not fail to enthuse the minds of their pupils with a love for literature and art—which found expression, here and there, as opportunity afforded.  Hence, there were some few names that had become household through the newspapers, which gave a corner to the poets always.  Several attempts had been made to consolidate our literature, but with little success.  Kettell’s “Lives of the Poets” was probably the best, till Mr. Griswold astonished the country by his “Poets of America,” revealing to them a treasury of rare and unknown beauty.

Instantly a new impulse was given to the minds of thinkers, readers and writers, and we saw at once that a world of power was opening to the country through the ennobling and harmonizing influences of art.  Here was a collection of persons, comparatively little known, whose souls were replete with delicate conceptions, which had found expression through the harmonies of verse.  We learned to know, and to love and honor our prophets as we should.  We learned a reverence for the divine art, the truest expression of the all-beautiful afforded to earth; and thought the work unquestionably stimulated into existence a perfect hot-bed of weakly, precocious plants, it did people and country good.  That the work was faulty, none will deny.  Many names enjoy, through the writings of Mr. Griswold, a popularity which time will fail to indorse; but, as a whole, it was well and generously done; and the numerous works of the kind which followed—most of them mere resumes of those of Dr. Griswold—attest the success of his undertaking, and the popularity of a subject made so by his efforts alone.

We have reason to be grateful to him, as Americans, for what he did for literature. He was untiring in his researches, and sought for the beauties of an author with as much avidity as critics of less fineness of intuition look for faults.  That his judgment was not always to be trusted, is not much to say of one who did so much that was trustworthy. That he was capricious, and allowed his personal predilections and prejudices to sway him, is most true, for he had the whims of a woman coupled with a certain spleen which he took no pains to conceal; yet was he weakly placable, and could be diverted from some piece of mischief or malice by an appeal to his generosity--by some expression of wit or outbreak of indignation.  Had he lived in England, for instance, where the child of genius is received, with all his faults and infirmities, simply and kindly as the bearer of sacred vessels, Mr. Griswold would have found his career one of more kindness and sympathy.

In our own country, we exact yeoman service of all, and we have little pity for the shortcomings of the gifted.  We have poetry on a vast scale, but we do not like that it should leave the world much behind it; and hence we should be quite sure to tackle the heavenly-winged Pegasus to the plow, and compel him to the furrow with the commonest dog of the team.

Mr. Griswold was in the habit of going about with bits of criticism in his pocket, and scraps of poetry which he had picked up; and these he would read and comment upon.  He had the laugh of a child, and was strangely unable to see the world as an arena for forms, ceremonies and proprieties; hence his freakishness, and mistakes and errors had always something incomplete and childish about them. He should have been shut in a library, with some protective spirit to direct him, for he could not understand the world, nor how it should be met; hence, some few loved this man with a deep and abiding love, which tells of much that was noble and beautiful within him--others pursued him with hatred and malice, which shows that his sphere was one of power in some way; and in all this, the man was utterly ignorant of himself, and of what the world had a right to demand of him.

At last, some bloody respect.

Thanks, yet again, to Undine of the "World of Poe", who posted excerpts from this notice on her blog here to commemorate my passing, thereby alerting me to this obituary's existence.

A Sunset Storm - An Uncharitable Review by Poe (or one of his flunkies)

Having recently posted some samples of my poetry, I thought that this contemporary review of my poem "A Sunset Storm", printed in January of 1843 and assumed to be written by Edgar Allan Poe (but may have been written by one of his friends, such as Henry Beck Hirst), might be of interest.  It is most unkind, but never let it be said that I attempt to obfuscate criticisms of myself or my work.  Enjoy.

The review of my poem is intermingled with the much longer THE POETS AND POETRY OF AMERICA. WITH AN HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION. BY RUFUS W. GRISWOLD. THIRD EDITION. REVISED, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS. CAREY & HART: PHILADELPHIA.  The excerpted portion transcribed below contains the passages relevant to my poem.

[Text: Philadelphia Saturday Museum, January 28, 1843.]

Is it fair to condemn Mr. Griswold’s ability to act as a judge and critic of our poets without examining into his poetical and critical competency? Certainly not; and in the premises we shall act justly, generously, and impartially. “Just!” we think we hear our poet exclaim, like the man arraigned for horse-stealing, when told by his judge he should have justice done him. “Justice! please your Honor’s glory — that’s the very thing I don’t want.” Mr. G., however, claims to be a poet, and deduces from that position his competency to judge of the poetry of others. Let us apply the touchstone to his latest acknowledged article, “THE SUNSET STORM,” published in his (Graham’s) Magazine, September, 1842; and if that does not prove him to possess as little of the divine afflatus, artistical skill, and knowledge of plain English construction, as a Desert of Sahara Arab, let our criticism go for naught.

We shall premise with a short notice of the art of versification; an art which our best poets are ignorant of, or wilfully misunderstand, and which our first writers on Prosody have entirely misrepresented. Cooper, whose grammar is extensively used, defines it to be “The arrangement of a certain number of syllables according to certain laws,” yet lays down no laws for its government, but drops the subject, fearful of burning his fingers. Indeed, all the writers on Prosody, from Brown to Murray, have almost entirely waived the subject, while the little they have said is founded on, and consequently, a mass of — error.

VERSIFICATION is the art by which various feet of equal quantity, though differing in the number of syllables, are arranged in harmonious order, and made to form verse. POETRY, in its most confined sense, is the result of versification, but may be more properly defined as the rhythmical personification of existing or real beauty. One defines it as the “rhythmical creation of beauty;” but though it certainly is a “creation of beauty” in itself, it is more properly a personification, for the poet only personifies the image previously created by his mind.

FEET are the parts of verse by which, when harmoniously associated, the reader steps along, as it were, in a measured manner, through the whole. They are composed of one, two, or three variously accented and unaccented syllables. The only feet admitted by our language are the Iambus, Trochee, Dactyl, Anapaest, and Cæsura. The Tribrach, Amphibrach, and Pyrrhic, though adopted in English Prosody by very erudite writers, never did and never can exist in its poetry. Of these hereafter. We shall use the old marks, a [—], to mark the accented, or long, and the [circ], to mark the unaccented, or short syllables, in our notice of their various kinds.

The IAMBUS is composed of two syllables, one short and one long; as,

“I stand | beneath | the mys | tic moon.”

The TROCHEE, of the same number, but exactly the reverse of the former; as,

“In the | greenest | of our | valleys.”
Here “of” is made long by emphasis.
“In a | sunny, | smiling | valley,”

is a better exemplification of the Trochee.

The SPONDEE is composed of two long syllables; as, “wild wood,” “pale moon,” “wind sown,” and is only used to prevent monotony, or to produce some striking effect in versification. In the commencement of verse the Trochee is preferable. It is likewise the only foot, with the exception of the Cæsura, which cannot be used to form continuous verse. Longfellow thought it might, and murdered harmony most horribly in attempting English Hexameter, a species of verse which, though beautiful in the Latin, can never be introduced in our language, owing to its wanting a sufficient number of Spondees. A language correctly described by Holmes as —

“Our grating English, whose Teutonic jar
Shakes the rack’d axle of Art’s rattling car.”

The DACTYL is a foot composed of three syllables, two short, preceded by one long; as,

“Ragged and | weary one, | where art thou | travelling?”

The ANAPAEST is the converse of the Dactyl; as,

“On a rock | by the O | cean, all lone | ly and sad.”

The CÆSURA — the word is from the Greek, and signifies “a pause “ — is a foot composed of one long syllable, equal in quantity to, that is, occupying the same time in pronunciation as, the Dactyl, Anapaest, Iambus, or Trochee. It is properly used in English poetry to give a sonorous close to, or to produce a striking and forcible commencement in verse. We shall give an example from Longfellow, who uses it in the latter case, without knowing of its existence, as a distinct fact.

“In the I market | place of | Bruges | stand the | belfry, | old and | brown.”

Here, by reading the verse, the ear will observe that “brown,” which is the Cæsura, consumes the same time as any of the Trochees of which the line is composed. 

All our Prosodists define the Cæsura (and we give the definition in our own words, as it is impossible to form an idea of its use from theirs) as a pause introduced for the purpose of producing harmony, in a single verse or couplet, between “two members of the same verse,” by which the one is placed in direct comparison with the others; as,

“See the bold youth″ strain up the threat’ning steep,
Rush through the thickets,″ down the valleys sweep.”

(″) Being the marks by which they designate the Cæsura which they use, as will be readily perceived, only in an elocutionary sense.

We too use the Cæsura as a pause — a pause compelled by the position of, and upon the foot — of the voice, which renders it equal in quantity to any of the larger feet, and at the same time gives to the close of the verse, where it is most frequently found, a singular richness, as well as sonorous fulness and force. When the Cæsura terminates a verse, the poet can immediately step in the next into another species of foot without producing the slightest discord. The following is an example of its commencing and concluding a stanza:

March! | March! | March!
From the | yawning | grave they | come;
And | thousands | rise, with | lidless | eyes,
As | taps the | fun’ral | drum.
Heavi | ly their | white arms | swinging, |
Clatter, | clatter | on they | go;
Up in | curling | eddies | flinging |
High the | fleecy | snow. 

It will be seen that this stanza is scanned precisely as if it were written in one continuous verse, which is the proper mode in, and peculiar to our language; as,

March ! | March ! \ March ! | From the | yawning | grave they I come, and | thousands | rise with | lidless | eyes as | taps the | funeral | drum.

the arrangement of the same depending entirely upon the will of the poet.

The Cæsura has been used, “time out of mind,” by all our poets, but with a perfect ignorance of its present character. This discovery, as well as that of the above mode of scansion, was left to Edgar A. Poe, who has spent more time in analyzing the construction of our language than any living grammarian, critic, or essayist. The following is an example of his use of this foot in the “Haunted Palace”:

“In the greenest of our valleys,
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace
(Snow-white palace) reared its head.

“In the monarch Thought’s dominion,
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair.”

With this brief analysis, sufficient to explain the subject, we return to the examination of the “Sunset Storm.”

The sum | mer sun | has sunk | to rest

Very fair, Mr. G.

Below | the green | clad hills.

This is Iambic, the simplest of all verse; yet in the second verse, or as Mr. G. would call it, the second “ line,” we have a positive error. “Green clad hills “ are three consecutive long syllables, and “clad hills” being a Spondee, has no business in that position in the verse. Mr. Griswold commences with a quiet picture of the sun sinking to rest, which the sun always does quietly, as he ought; and the second should, consequently, harmonize with the preceding verse, to carry out the idea. “Green clad hills “ is as harsh as the grating of a coffee-mill.

“The summer sun has sunk to rest
Below the ‘lofty’ hills,”

or any other sort of “hills,” where the adjective is an Iambus, would make it melody. Let us proceed:

“And through | the skies | career | ing fast,
The storm | cloud rides | upon | the blast,
And now | the rain | distills.”

Here the same error is again repeated, “ storm-cloud” being, like “green-clad,” a compound word, and distil is spelt with two “ll’s.”

“The flash | we see, | the peal | we hear,
With winds | blent in | their wild | career.”

“Blent in “ is the most horrible massacre of harmony we ever encountered. It is neither fish, flesh, nor fowl; neither a Spondee, Trochee, or an Iambus; and, deuce take us! if we know what to make of it. In Christian charity, Mr. G., enlighten us!

“Till pains | the ear.”

A most appropriate verse. It certainly pains our ear to proceed with the next.

“It is | the voice | of the | Storm-King.”

Did any one ever read such delectable doggerel? Did any one ever see such a number of short syllables collected in one “line,” or see such a line published, with a grave face, as poetry? We defy even Mrs. Wood to sing it musically. “The voice” is the only legitimate Iambus in the whole line. “It is,” we are compelled to read “It is,” to make the verse read musically. “Of the” is a Trochee, unless Mr. G. would have us read “of the,” which, from the versification precedent and subsequent, we should imagine he wishes us to do. “Storm-King” is another compound word, and a Spondee.

“Leading | his ban | ner’d hosts | along | the sky,
And drench | ing with | his floods | the ster | ile lands | and dry.”

Here we have a Trochee, “leading,” commencing the verse. This is not objectionable, for it expresses an action — “leading his banner’d hosts.” Its introduction frequently produces a fine artistical and highly poetical effect, and the poet’s as well as the reader’s ear is the best judge when it should be used. We will give one or two examples, since we are riding our favorite horse of versification.

“And loud | ly on | the ev’ | ning’s breath,
Rang the | shrill cry | of sud | den death!” 

“Rang the,” a Trochee, followed by the Spondee “shrill cry,” expresses forcibly the actual presence and force of the sound on the breath, that is, over the low murmur of the evening wind. Again, in Byron’s “Childe Harold,”

“The sky | is changed | and such | a change ! | O night!
And storm | and dark | ness! Ye | are wond | rous strong,
Yet love | ly in | your strength | as is | the light
Of a | dark eye | in wo | man. Far — along
From peak | to peak | her rat | tling crags | among
Leaps the | live thun | der! Not | from one | lone cloud,”

Here is the same definite expression of passion and action in “of a dark eye,” and “leaps the live thunder.” You can feel the loveliness of the eye, and hear the crash of, and see the thunder leaping. How different are Mr. Griswold’s and Lord Byron’s descriptions of a storm!

We copy from the same magazine that contains the “Sunset Storm,” for Mr. Griswold’s especial edification, a fine specimen of Iambic verse, and advise him when next he uses that “foot,” to take it as a model. It is from the “ Haunted Heart,” by a Miss Mary L. Lawson, whose ear seems to be nearly faultlessly correct.

“Ne’er from his heart the vision fades away;
Amid the crowd, in silence and alone,
The stars by night, the clear blue sky by day,
Bring to his mind the happiness that’s flown; 
A tone of song, the warbling of the birds,
The simplest thing that memory endears,
Can still recall the form, the voice, the words
Of her, the best beloved of early years.”
In the same poem we find the following highly finished and descriptive lines:
“And watched the rippling currents at they played
In ebb and flow upon the banks of rivers.”
We stand as it were, upon the river’s bank!

We mentioned something before of the use of Spondees in Latin Hexameter, and to make our position perfectly understood, shall quote a few examples from different authors.

“In nova | fert an i | mus mu | ta t as | di cere | rbrmas
Corpora | Di coep | tis nam | vos mu | tastis et | il las.”
“Tityre | tu patu | lac recu | bans sub | tegmine | fagi.”
“Nox ru it | et fus | cis tel | lurem, | plectitur | al is.” — IBID.
This last line is written
“Nox ruit et fuscis tellurem amplectitur alis.”

But in the words where “um,” “am,” “em,” or a vowel, occur, the syllable is taken off by elision. Again, where the line commences with a Spondee,

“Felix | qui potu | it re | rum cog | noscere | causas.”
Ergo. Mr. Griswold ought to be happy in knowing his book to be the cause of our review. 

Now, gentle reader, is Mr. Griswold a versifier? — we have not touched him as a Poet, — and if not, and we assert he is not, and never was able to understand the first principles of versification, what shall be said of his presumption in becoming the judge of a race of men whose simplest productions are beyond his comprehension? We have more of his poetry (spirits of Pope, Byron, et al., forgive our desecration of the name!) on hand, but in none can we find two correct consecutive lines, nor do we wish to inflict them on the reader. But we have not yet done with the “Sunset Storm.” Independent of its worse than tyro-like versification, it is a heterogeneous compound of sheer, naked nonsense and rank bombast. We shall examine the first verse, that which we have already submitted to scansion, and then, if any one deems Mr. G. a competent judge of true poetry, we hope he will inflict one of his collections upon him annually. Now for it!

“The summer sun has sunk to rest
Below the green-clad hills,
And through the skies careering fast,
The storm-cloud rides upon the blast,
And now the rain distills.”

We pause to credit Mr. G. with a new idea — the clouds distilling rain. We have heard of men distilling whiskey, alcohol, &c., but never before of clouds distilling rain.

“The flash we see, the peal we hear,
With winds blent in their wild career,
Till pains the ear.”

“The flash” of what do we see? “The peal” of what do “we hear”? Is lightning and thunder to be understood, or is it the flash and peal of the storm?  If the latter is meant, it is another new idea. If the former — but it is not said, — how can “winds” be “blent in” with a flash of lightning? Mr. G., Mr. G., you are as mystical as Kant, and as incomprehensible as Wordsworth, without possessing the slightest claim to the common sense of either.

“It is the voice of the storm-king
Riding upon the lightning’s wing.”
We are now informed that this “ blent in “ mixture is
— “ the voice of the storm-king
Riding upon the lightning’s wing.”

and we are happy to hear it. It is no wonder dairywomen complain of their milk being curdled the morning after a storm.

“Leading his banner’d hosts along the sky,
And drenching with his floods the sterile lands and dry.”

Is this even good grammar? Is it “ the voice” or “the Storm King” “leading his banner’d hosts along the sky”? Tell us that!

Did any one ever read such nonsense? We never did, and shall hereafter eschew everything that bears Rufus Wilmot Griswold’s name, as strongly as the Moslemite the forbidden wine, or the Jew the “unmentionable flesh.” But we must say, ere we leave the “Sunset Storm,” that, with the exception of Mathews’ “Wakondah,” Pop Emmons’ “Fredoniad,” and some portions of Hoffman’s “Vigil of Faith,” the world never even saw such balderdash.

We defined Poetry “to be the rhythmical personification of existing or ideal beauty;” and here we shall give a vivid example of our idea, an example which even Mr. Griswold acknowledges “to possess a statue-like definitiveness and warmth of coloring.” It is the “Sleeping Beauty,” by Tennyson, — the most perfect conception of loveliness we ever saw, or ever expect to see, and had Tennyson written nothing else, it would have made him immortal.

“Year after year unto her feet,
(She lying on her couch alone,)
Along the purple coverlet
The maiden’s jet-black hair has grown;
On either side her tranced form
Forth streaming from a braid of pearl;
The slumbrous light is rich and warm,
And moves not on the rounded curl.

The silk, star-broider’d coverlet
Unto her limbs itself doth mould
Languidly ever; and, amid
The full black ringlets downward rolled,
Glows forth each softly-shadow’d arm
With bracelets of the diamond bright;
Her constant beauty doth inform
Stillness with love, and day with light.

She sleeps ! her breathings are not heard,
In palace chambers far apart
The fragrant tresses are not stirred
That lie upon her charmed heart.
She sleeps! on either hand up swells
The gold-fring’d pillow lightly prest:
She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells,
A perfect form, in perfect rest.”

In the first place, this is a legitimate subject of poetry, finished with the highest artistical skill, burning with genius and ideality, and secondly it conveys to the mind in the very title that richest image of loveliness — a sleeping woman! Words cannot convey our conception of its beauty, nor our homage to the genius of its author. The italicised lines are the finest passages.


I here append some similarly hostile words pertaining to my poem "Sights From My Window-Alice", written by Jesse E. Dow, another of Poe's goons, and printed in The Washington Independent for June 2, 1842:

“We have often asked those whose course of light reading was more extensive than our own, to tell us what Rufus W. Griswold, the self-constituted critic among the poets of his country, had written; but no one could name a. piece of his composition of the length of a brad.  Judge, then, of our surprise, upon opening the Magazine of the intellectual and indefatigable Graham for June, to find Rufus W. Griswold’s Addled Egg — and such an egg! — no wonder the press crackled when such a pullet laid. It would have caused the muses to forsake Helicon in the days of Grecian glory, and made Homer himself forget his rhapsodies, and open his blind old eyes to behold it… Mr. Rueful Grizzle, the Sight seer… the greatest poet of America — the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold, L.L.D. and A.S.S.”

The Poetry of Rufus Griswold

Since posting my world famous poem, "Five Days", over two years ago now, requests for additional samples of my verse have been pouring in from all over the world.  It is for this reason that I have chosen, for the enlightenment and enjoyment of all, to post the remaining pieces of my extant poetry.

You are welcome.



The summer sun has sunk to rest
     Below the green-clad hills,
And through the skies, careering fast,
The storm-cloud rides upon the blast,
     And now, the rain distils.
The flash we see, the peal we hear
With winds blent in their wild career,
               Till pains the ear.
It is the voice of the Storm-King,
Riding upon the lightning’s wing,
Leading his bannered hosts across the darkened sky,
And drenching with his floods the sterile lands and dry.

The wild beasts to their caverns fly,
     The night-birds flee from heaven;
The dense, black clouds that veil the sky,
Darkening the vast expanse on high,
     By streaming fires are riven.
Again the tempest’s thunder-tone,
The sounds from forests overthrown,
               Like trumpet blown
Deep in the bosom of the storm,
Proclaim His presence, in its form,
Who doth the sceptre of the concave hold,
Who freed the winds, and the vast cloud unrolled.

The storms no more the skies invest,
     The winds are heard no more;
Low in the chambers of the west,
From whence they rose, they’ve sunk to rest—
     The sunset storm is o’er.
The clouds that were so wildly driven
Across the darkened brow of heaven,
               Are gone, and Even
Comes in her mild and sober guise,
Her perfumed air and trembling skies,
And Luna, with her star-gemmed, glorious crown,
From her high throne in heaven, upon the world looks down.



So here, beneath this old gray stone,
Lies hid the light that brightest shown
Upon our green clad mountains, when
Were “tried the souls” of patriot men.
Beneath this soil, from tyrants won,
Repose the ashes of her son,
     The hero of her day of gloom,
Who made the land, (a dreary waste
While under Slavery’s minions placed,)
     Like Eden’s garden bloom.

The mountains were our watch-towers then,
And guarded by right gallant men,
     Who flung their banner to the breeze,
And filled the welkin with their cry,
To win their freedom or to die.
     The sound went booming o’er the seas,
And vassals in the ancient world
     Beheld the broad flags of the free,
     O’er hill and valley, stream and sea,
Like sheets of living flame unfurled.
     They caught the spirit of our sires,
And men, like him who sleeps beneath,
Who knelt to but one victor, Death,
     On Europe’s plains lit Freedom’s fires:
The Switzer and the Tyrolese,
The bondmen of the isles of Greece,
     Woke from the sleep of centuries;
The turbaned Tyrant and the Czar
Saw in the rising of our star
     The fate of old idolatries;
And trembled when an ALLEN smote,
Were he a Pole or Suliote.

“Sir Guy” said tomb would never hold
A chief so restless and so bold
     As thou full oft dids’t prove thyself—
That thou would’st make its cerements start
By some infernal Yankee art,
     And spurn the bonds of Death himself.
But false the prophecy; inurned
Where thy bright share the greensward turned,
When Peace, with garlands crowned, her car
Rode o’er the fields made red by war;
Thy ashes rest in deep repose,
Unawakened by the tramp of foes__
The only reveille to start
Anew to life a soldier’s heart.
They soul, translated from its corse,
Thou sadist would find a mountain horse,
     A spirited and warlike steed
Of matchless form and giant frame,
Snow-white and with an eye of flame,
     A charger of the finest breed,
In which it might “a life” remain
To snuff the air and paw the plain,
Beneath the same clear skies that gave
Light to thy natal place and grave.
     For thou did’st love thy land,
And cared not, maybe, it to barter
For a doubtful title in that quarter,
     Where some think thou wert contraband!

Brave soldier! not a Spartan thou,
     Nor hero of the Roman mould—
We will not deign to deck thy brow
     With wreath worn by men of old.
With famed Thermopylae will vie
The Yankee patriot’s blow at “Ti,”
     And many a border battle-field
Gives challenge to the ancient tome
For deeds that will compare, in Rome.
     An honest heart, and firmly steeled
Against temptations that had moved,
Had life than country been less loved,
     Was thine; and thy own land
Sees in the green-clad hills that rise
In glory to her trembling skies,
     Memorials that will not stand
When thy less perishable name
Is blotted from the scroll of Fame.

New York, May, 1840.



Belshazzar was seated at night in his hall,
And thousands around him obeyed at his call;
In the midst streamed from fountains the ruby red wine,
For the throne of the King was the Bacchanal’s shrine;
When the sentence was written in letters of flame,
‘Thou art weighed and found wanting!’ and splendor and fame
In the balance of Justice were counted as naught—
He was false to himself and his ruin was wrought.

A ruler as strong, the Recluse of Ferney,*
O’er the Empire of Mind held a limitless sway,
And far as the light of Intelligence shone
Still the great and the noble his influence own;
But his soul was a sepulchre, dreary and dim,
And fearful their end all who trusted in him;
Against virtue and truth he unceasingly warred,
He was false to himself and himself he abhorred.

The young and the bold wander forth from their homes;
The student pores over the black-lettered tomes,
The mariner braves, to win silver and gold,
The fierce torrid sun and the terrible cold,
And the soldier, the statesmen, the poet, all pine
On their brows the perennial laurel to twine;
But when all is gained, when the strife is all past,
If false to themselves, oh what win they at last!

The poor man, the fettered, the slave in the mines,
Down deep in the earth where the sun never shines,
Yea, he whom the bigot has doomed to expire
In agony over the slow-mounting fire,
Feels upspringing within him a fountain of joy
Which no pain and no peril can ever destroy;
The world did not give and it cannot divest—
He is true to himself, and by Truth he is blest.

The base, craven-hearted, quail under the blow
The strong give the weak and the proud give the low,
But he who can back on a true spirit fall,
No wrong can excite and no danger appal;
The vision of others is bound by the sky,
But he far beyond it a home can descry,
And he knows that by Truth he its glories shall win—
He who’s false to himself can ne’er enter therein.

Hold fast on thyself! what though perils assail,
And thou standest alone in the pitiless gale,
Thou art lord of one soul, thou art king of one realm,
Which no strong arm can conquer, no wave overwhelm,
That shall last and grow brighter as nations decay,
That shall flourish, still young, when the stars fade away,
If true to thyself, thou thyself dost control—

New York, Oct. 1840.                       *Voltaire.



I SIT beside my window,
   And see the crowds go by,
With joy on every countenance,
   And hope in every eye,
And hear their blended voices,
   In many a shout and song,
Borne by the spring’s soft breezes
   Through all the streets along.

And peering through a lattice
   Of a humble cottage near,
I see a face of beauty,
   Adown which glides a tear,--
A rose amid her tresses
   Tells that she would be gay,
But a thought of some deep sorrow
   Drives every smile away.

She whom I see there weeping,
   Few save myself do know,--
A flower in blooming blighted
   By blasts of keenest wo.
She has a soul so gentle,
   That as a harp it seems,
Which the light airs wake to music
   Like that we hear in dreams.

A common fate is that poor girl’s,
   Which many yet must share,--
In the crowd how little know they
   What griefs its members bear!
One year ago a radiance
   Like sunlight round her played,
Heart felt, eyes spoke of gladness,--
   She was not then betrayed.

There was one of gentle manners,
   Who e’er met her with a smile,
And a voice so full of kindness,
   That she could not deem it guile,
And her trusting heart she gave him,--
   She could give him no more,--
Oh! daughter of the poor man,
   Soon thy dream of bliss was o’er!

‘T were vain to tell the story
   Of fear, hope, and joyous passion;
She forgot her father’s station,
   He forsook the halls of fashion;
She loved him well—he knew it,--
   ‘T was a pleasing interlude,
Fitting to enjoy more keenly
   Scenes the poor might ne’er intrude.

Hark! the sound of music swelling!—
   Now the crowd are rushing by,
Horses prancing, banners flying,
   Shouts ascending to the sky!—
There’s a sea of life beneath me,
   And his form is there,--
For his fearful sin who spurns him?
   On his brow what sign of care?

I see her now—she trembles—
   There is phrensy in her eye;
Her blanched lip is quivering;
   There is no good angel nigh;--
She falls,--the deep toned bugle
   Breaks on the quiet air;
Look to the calm blue heaven—
   That sound—her soul—are there!

In the cavalcade she saw him,
   In his plumes and armor drest,
And more closely to her bosom
   His treasured gifts she prest;
Her eye met his—‘t was finished—
   Not a word by tongue was spoken;
A cold glance—a look of passion—
   And her heart was broken!

How common are such histories,
   In the cottage and the hall;
From prison bars how many eyes
   Look on life’s carnival!
The joys we seek are phantoms
   That fade ere closed the hand
In the dark reached forth to grasp them,
   But the brain receives their brand.