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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

As Glides the Pictured Dream

By John Adams (1704–1740)

[“To the Rev. Mr. Turell on the Death of his Virtuous Consort.” From Poems on Several Occasions. 1745.]

THE DARTS of death within her bosom deep

Have urged the fatal wound, and fixed the lasting sleep.

The impartial tyrant round his arrows throws,

Nor heeds our prayers nor melts before our vows.

The charms of beauty wither from his hands,

As fades a flower, and to a tempest bends.

Nor eloquence can soothe, nor virtue awe,

Nor force repel the power of nature’s law.

To limits fixed, our destined course we bend,

And with resistless haste to death’s pale empire tend.

From scene to scene our shifting moments go,

And then return the ground the dust we owe.

As glides the pictured dream before our sight,

Winged with the fleeting shadows of the night,

So borne upon the quick succeeding hours

We drop in death, and drink surviving showers.

Adown our cheeks th’ unwearied currents shed

Can ne’er revive, but may increase the dead.

Had you the lyre of Orpheus, which could move

The quickened stones, and each attentive grove;

Or could you flow in such a moving strain

As Turell warbled to the listening plain;

In vain the tender plaints would charm her ears,

Bound to the breathing consort of the spheres.

Who would the doubtful maze of life repeat,

Where fleeting scenes the gilded fancy cheat?

Where cares and sorrows circle through our years,

While future evils rise before our fears?

And feel the fires of heavenly rapture die,

And blot with tears the vision of the sky!