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VALEDICTORY POEM, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Gambol and song and jubilee are done
Last Line: And may god speed our perilous career!
Subject(s): Commencement; Harvard University; Graduation

Gambol and song and jubilee are done,
Life's motley pilgrimage must be begun; --
Another scene is crowding on the last, --
Perhaps a darkened picture of the past;
And we, who leave Youth's fairy vales behind,
Where Joy hath hailed us on the summer wind,
Would fain, with fond delay, prolong the hour,
Which sternly strikes at Friendship's golden power.
Then chide us not, though idly we may strew
Some blooming chaplets in the way we view.
We cannot weep -- while Hope is dancing nigh, --
We may not smile at Sorrow's withering eye.
On Youth's last threshold, while we doubtful stand,
What crowded scenes of various hues expand, --
A thousand fears the fields of Time deform,
Hope's gilded rainbows resting on the storm.

Oh long ago, while Freedom yet was young,
Her wreaths ungathered, and her praise unsung,
While Europe languished in barbaric night,
And young Columbus kindled life and light, --
Fate's finger pointed to the brooding cloud
Which wrapped a new world in its ponderous shroud.
On three full ages has the seal been set
Since, o'er this land, Fate's awful Angels met; --
This land, -- the scene of glory unrevealed,
Pregnant with powers her Genius woke to wield.
Here stood those Angels, on our mountain strand,
And looked through Time, and waved their charmed wand,
Hailed the full hour when God proclaims its birth,
A new and blissful paradise on earth.
Thrice oer the clime they flapped their dusky wings,
To lodge rich virtues in its secret springs,
And ere its gale and mortal banner furled,
Charm bound its shores, the asylum of the World.
Then bade the breezes waft Columbus on,
To crown the triumph which the hero won.
Columbus comes; -- far land bedims the sky,
And rapture kindled in his eagle eye.
With awe struck soul, the trembling sailor feels
What man dishonoured, & what God reveals;
Found the first Eden's pomp of hills and woods,
Lost in vast Ocean's watery solitudes.
Like that rare bird the enamoured Ethiop praised
Whose peerless beauty all unworshipped blazed,
Gift of the Sun, his golden plumage shone,
In Afric's boundless solitudes, -- alone.

Back to the crowded multitudes of men,
Swelled with glad tidings, came the sail again;
Europe's loud welcome bade the wanderers hail,
Delighted Wonder listened to their tale.
The eyes of men were fastened on the scene,
Whose distant beauty charmed with light serene.
Adventurous hosts, from Europe's tower-crowned shore,
Claimed boundless realms unvisited before;
But 'mid the shouts of rushing nations, -- came,
And louder than the trumpet voice of fame,
Prophetic sounds, in solemn murmur heard,
The oracles of Fate breathed out the thrilling word.
-- 'When dying Europe mourns her lost renown,
'Her wasted honour, and her broken crown;
'When Vice and Ruin rend the earth with sin,
'And pour the deluge of destruction in,
'Corruption scorches with his tainted breath,
'And hundred-handed Havoc rides on death; --
'Be thou -- fair land! their refuge, and their stay,
'The pillared gate to Glory's narrow way.
The sound had ceased, the unearthly host retired
Dark in the North, -- and men, with awe, admired.

Time rolls away, but Nature stands the same;
Her starry host, her mountain wrapped in flame,
Earth, air, and heaven, which smiled benignant then
On those far travellers from the haunts of men,
With equal lustre now look calmly on
This youthful band, -- this goal which they have won;
Perhaps bear with them, in their counsels high,
The near fulfilment of old prophecy;
And we, perchance, may claim with joy to be
The Ministers of Fate, the priests of Destiny.

Here, in the halls of Fate, we proudly stand,
Youth's holy fires by Hope's broad pinion fanned;
And while we wait what Destiny betides,
Gaze on the forms which fairy Fancy guides;
Bright apparitions floating on the air,
Which soft approaching claim a guardian care.
Shall I see FORTUNE wave her silken robe,
Or strong AMBITION comprehend the globe?
Shall warbling MUSES steal the soul away
To the rich stores of legendary lay?
Shall HONOUR trace the heraldry of Fame,
Or BEAUTY come, as Cleopatra came? --
-- Not to dull sense shall forms like these appear,
But conscious feeling finds them hovering near.
These are the living principles, which weave
Lifes treacherous web, to flatter and deceive;
Through every age, they lead the lot of life,
And grasp the Urn with human fortunes rife
The early minstrel, when his kindling eye
Marked the bright stars illuminate the sky,
Saw these wild phantoms, in those planets, roll
The tides of fortune to their fearful goal.
There, robed in light, the Genii of the stars
Launch, in refulgent space, their diamond cars;
Or, in pavilions of celestial pride,
Serene above all influence beside,
Vent the bold joy, which swells the glorious soul,
Rich with the rapture of secure controul.
They read the silent mysteries of fate,
The slow revealings of the future state;
Trace the colossal shades of coming time,
Pregnant with unknown prodigies of crime,
While passing on, to ill-omened birth,
Low in the hapless atmosphere of earth.
-- These were proud visions, and though part were feigned,
Enough of Truth's sweet union remained.

We may not stoop dull folly's round to creep,
And we must climb Ambitions rugged steep;
What though the toil should vex the soul with pain, --
Beyond its woes, there is a crown to gain.
We look for days of joy, and groves of peace,
Where all the turmoils of ambition cease;
We love that garland, which the scholar wears,
Who wreaths new blossoms with successive years,
Crouched in his cot, amid romantic bowers,
Domestic visions wing the happy hours,
When mellow eve shall paint the saffron sky,
And light the star of Hesperus on high,
Hush the wild warble of the lonely grove,
And charm the hamlet with the tales of love,
Then, the glad sire shall gather round his door,
His ruddy boys, to list his fairy lore;
By every soothing spell to Nature known
She courts him willing to her sylvan throne;
While, oer his sense, her bright enchantment steals,
Enamoured Memory all her stores reveals;
The star oft seen in youth's rejoicing prime
Rolls back his soul along the tides of time;
Recalls the spring-time of his health and pride,
His gay companions bounding at his side;
The reckless shout which shook the college hall, --
The classic lesson potent to appal, --
The gorgeous dreams which ardent fancy wove
To gild the blushing morning of his love; --
All these shall rise for Memory's brilliant theme,
And float in beauty, like an angel's dream.
The old man's fearless gaze salutes the sky,
Ere savage death hath shut his glazing eye.
When the grave closed oer Athens' laurelled son,
The fair-haired Muses wept in Helicon;
Be our's that tear, -- fair Nature's holiest gem,
That song, for aye, shall be our requiem.

But let not eager fancy roam so far,
Whose tale should now remind us what we are.
In this bright age, with seeds of glory sown,
The hand of fate hath placed us, -- not our own.
When the old world is crumbling with decay,
And empires unregarded, pass away,
When the world's days of infancy are told,
And Nature's crowded destinies unfold,
Perhaps tis our's -- when strength and grandeur fail,
And pride and power confess that man is frail,
When vanquished Virtue's reign is fully past,
And stern Corruption climbs the throne at last,
And men kneel down beneath that wasting sway, --
Perhaps tis our's to rend the veil away;
To bid men see their honour, and their bliss,
The proud connection of that world and this;
To shew the triumphs of a loftier scene,
Than on this humble ball hath ever been,
Ourselves, heavens honoured instruments prepared,
Whose little band even savage Death has spared.

Let not the censure of presumption blot
The venial boldness of aspiring thought;
For proudest deeds, the lowliest means are made,
Where the dark schemes of Providence are laid,
So when, of old, to strike a lawless sway,
The arm of Nemesis was shrined in clay,
When the black host of earthborn giants strove
To rend Olympus from the might of Jove,
When Terror reddened on the Almighty's cheek,
And even Jove's thunders whispered they were weak,
Then was the might, which blessed high heaven with peace,
Found in the arm of youthful Hercules;
So heaven may bid this young unhonoured land
Lead the long changes which mankind demand.

I seek no pardon if my wayward lays
Flow too profusely with my country's praise;
Shall a vain taunt proscribe my love of home,
Bid the heart sicken, sacred feeling roam?
Shall paltry ridicule assail the name,
Which twines its honours with Columbia's fame?
The man whose soul, with patriot ardor thrills
To scorn the proud world from his native hills?

But what be these but idle dreams of hope
Which soon shall fade, and leave the blind to grope?
Ah! what be these, amid the night of life,
The certain, near, inevitable strife?
We stand on slippery paths; the Ocean's roar
Is loud around us, -- and the world, before; --
Thousands have crossed the gulf, -- but few can tell
Of all that countless multitude -- how well.
No glorious lustre gathers round their name,
Or gives their virtues to the trump of Fame.
As if men bless them with a brief renown,
Oh think how sadly purchased was that crown,
How malice blights the name it would destroy,
-- Think on Columbus chained, -- canst thou be crowned with joy?

When mighty thoughts come crowding on the soul,
And Fancy's dreams in sparkling lustre roll,
Let not the dreamer heed her baneful charms,
Perfidious smiles and Folly's winning arms;
Fancy and Hope in chill Despair shall end,
He clasps a viper whom he thought a friend,
And when he finds the rapture of renown,
-- That crown of glory is a thorny crown.

We meet to part; then haste, no more delay
To bid farewell, and stretch our sail away;
And if a kindred sympathy shall rise
Here in the hearts, and friendships, which we prize,
Our heartfelt wish shall gratefully respond,
And God will sanction this fraternal bond.
And we shall cherish long this parting day,
When Beauty smiled to cheer us on our way.
Think not that heart, and feeling's vital glow
Part from the little pageant which we show, --
No; brightly shrined in Memory's hallowed cell,
All that we leave, and weep to leave, shall dwell.
One debt of gratitude remains unpaid
To those who led us through Minerva's shade;
The thanks we offer, not by words expressed,
Let future years of grateful toil attest;
Be this our pride and boast to offer here
A freewill homage, grateful & sincere.

There is no joy to tear ourselves away
From scenes endeared by life's young holiday.
When many days have dimmed the eye with tears,
And darkening round, the sky of life appears,
How will our hearts rejoice to look behind
On these old halls, and call the past to mind.
Spots, where while studies, friends, & pleasures bless,
We dreamed the dreams of youthful happiness;
Or learned to venerate the guardian care
Enthroned in Learning's consecrated Chair;
Where ancient Science, with a frown severe,
Appalled the trifler, as he ventured near;
Here where we learned to wield the gun and quill,
Recite in sections, and in sections drill:
Here where we learned, still studious to excel
In arts and arms, to cheer, and to rebel;
Recall the pleasant faces which we knew,
Which oft put on a sombre colouring too;
The strange vicissitudes of life, which speak
In anxious paleness, on the sufferer's cheek,
Who, while cold terror shakes his frame throughout,
Asks, with a ghastly smile, 'Are the parts out?'

And many a one, whose sorrow, & whose fears,
Like Arethusa, melt himself to tears,
Short youth; disaster trembles in his eye,
An inch too short to join "the Company."
In whom both art & nature joined to strive
To reach the lofty limit, -- "five feet, five";
Perchance, in Commons Hall too sparely fed,
His hopes, alas! proved higher than his head.

Enough; -- Affection may not linger here,
Repeating fond farewells, and vows sincere;
Impatient Time doth knit his sullen brow,
Gird up your loins for fates dread mandate now!
May Glory wait you on your proudest ways,
The wise applaud you, while the world obeys,
May Joy attend the journey which we fear,
And may God speed our perilous career!

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