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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 Moss Supplicateth for the Poet

By Richard Henry Dana, Sr. (1787–1879)

[From Poems and Prose Writings. Collective Edition. 1850.]

THOUGH I am humble, slight me not,

But love me for the Poet’s sake;

Forget me not till he’s forgot,

For care or slight with him I take.

For oft he passed the blossoms by

And turned to me with kindly look;

Left flaunting flowers and open sky,

And wooed me by the shady brook.

And like the brook his voice was low:

So soft, so sad the words he spoke,

That with the stream they seemed to flow;

They told me that his heart was broke.

They said the world he fain would shun,

And seek the still and twilight wood,—

His spirit, weary of the sun,

In humblest things found chiefest good;

That I was of a lowly frame,

And far more constant than the flower,

Which, vain with many a boastful name,

But fluttered out its idle hour;

That I was kind to old decay,

And wrapped it softly round in green,

On naked root, and trunk of gray,

Spread out a garniture and screen.

They said, that he was withering fast,

Without a sheltering friend like me;

That on his manhood fell a blast,

And left him bare, like yonder tree;

That spring would clothe his boughs no more,

Nor ring his boughs with song of bird,—

Sounds like the melancholy shore

Alone were through his branches heard.

Methought, as then he stood to trace

The withered stems, there stole a tear,

That I could read in his sad face—

Brothers! our sorrows make us near.

And then he stretched him all along,

And laid his head upon my breast,

Listening the water’s peaceful song:

How glad was I to tend his rest!

Then happier grew his soothed soul;

He turned and watched the sunlight play

Upon my face, as in it stole,

Whispering, “Above is brighter day!”

He praised my varied hues,—the green,

The silver hoar, the golden, brown;

Said, Lovelier hues were never seen;

Then gently pressed my tender down.

And where I sent up little shoots,

He called them trees, in fond conceit:

Like silly lovers in their suits

He talked, his care awhile to cheat.

I said, I’d deck me in the dews,

Could I but chase away his care,

And clothe me in a thousand hues,

To bring him joys that I might share.

He answered, earth no blessing had

To cure his lone and aching heart;

That I was one, when he was sad,

Oft stole him from his pain, in part.

But e’en from thee, he said, I go

To meet the world, its care and strife,

No more to watch this quiet flow,

Or spend with thee a gentle life.

And yet the brook is gliding on,

And I, without a care, at rest,

While he to toiling life is gone;

Nor finds his head a faithful breast.

Deal gently with him, world! I pray;

Ye cares! like softened shadows come;

His spirit, well-nigh worn away,

Asks with ye but awhile a home.

O, may I live, and when he dies

Be at his feet a humble sod;

O, may I lay me where he lies,

To die when he awakes in God!