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Thomas Cole's poetry

the collected poems of America's foremost painter of the Hudson River School reflecting his feelings for nature and the romantic spirit of the Nineteenth Century

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Written on my Birthday, Feb. 1, 1830

Into the deep of the eternal past
Another year is sunk and what alas!
Is saved from the wreck, but recollections dim
Of unripe joys, of fears and hopes as vague
And evanescent as the morning mists.
Another year is past, where are the joys
Hope had enwreathed around the year like flowers
Last Natal day? Loved shadows they are fled.
O fickle Fortune—as the rainbow decked
Like it, forever flying when pursued.
Unjust! How oft into the lap of Sloth
Thy treasures rich are cast. And thou bright Fame,
The star that o'er the mountains and the sea
Through beating storms have led me, and at night
When wearied nature has demanded sleep
Hath waked me up to gaze on thee—How cold
Thy glittering beams! How distant is thy sphere!
Did ever lover with so chaste a flame,
And so devoted, meet such ill success.
Ye children of my fancy and my care
Neglected and despised and careless cast
Into the shade unmarked amid the crowd
That have a name, or gaudy, force the gaze
And wonder of the ignorant and light;
Are ye devoid of beauty? Can no eye
Delight in you but mine. Ah perhaps too fond
My fancy pictures gorgeous scenes and desires
They on the canvas glow and live where nought
But labored insipidity exists.
How oft the voice of praise breaks o'er work,
More fortunate than mine and there descants


How skilfully the art hath mimicked nature
How every tent and form is beautiful and true,
Then pass me by as though I ne'er had drunk
One draught at the great universal spring—
Ye mountains, woods and rocky, impetuous streams
Ye wide spread heavens! Speak O speak for me!
Have I not held communion close with you
And like to one who is enamoured, gazed
Intensely on your ever varying charms;
And has it been in vain?