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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

The Lost Pleiad

By William Gilmore Simms (1806–1870)

[From Poems. 1853.]

NOT in the sky,

Where it was seen

So long in eminence of light serene,—

Nor on the white tops of the glistering wave,

Nor down, in mansions of the hidden deep,

Though beautiful in green

And crystal, its great caves of mystery,—

Shall the bright watcher have

Her place, and, as of old, high station keep!

Gone! gone!

Oh! never more, to cheer

The mariner, who holds his course alone

On the Atlantic, through the weary night,

When the stars turn to watchers, and do sleep,

Shall it again appear,

With the sweet-loving certainty of light,

Down shining on the shut eyes of the deep!

The upward-looking shepherd on the hills

Of Chaldea, night-returning, with his flocks,

He wonders why his beauty doth not blaze,

Gladding his gaze,—

And, from his dreary watch along the rocks,

Guiding him homeward o’er the perilous ways!

How stands he waiting still, in a sad maze,

Much wondering, while the drowsy silence fills

The sorrowful vault!—how lingers, in the hope that night

May yet renew the expected and sweet light,

So natural to his sight!

And lone,

Where, at the first, in smiling love she shone,

Brood the once happy circle of bright stars:

How should they dream, until her fate was known,

That they were ever confiscate to death?

That dark oblivion the pure beauty mars,

And, like the earth, its common bloom and breath,

That they should fall from high;

Their lights grow blasted by a touch, and die,—

All their concerted springs of harmony

Snapt rudely, and the generous music gone!

Ah! still the strain

Of wailing sweetness fills the saddening sky;

The sister stars, lamenting; in their pain

That one of the selectest ones must die,—

Must vanish, when most lovely, from the rest!

Alas! ’tis ever thus the destiny.

Even Rapture’s song hath evermore a tone

Of wailing, as for bliss too quickly gone.

The hope most precious is the soonest lost,

The flower most sweet is first to feel the frost.

Are not all short-lived things the loveliest?

And, like the pale star, shooting down the sky,

Look they not ever brightest, as they fly

From the lone sphere they blest!