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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

To His Wife

By Joseph Stansbury (1750–1809)

[From The Loyal Verses of Joseph Stansbury and Doctor Jonathan Odell. Now first edited by Winthrop Sargent. 1860.]

To Cordelia

BELIEVE me, Love, this vagrant life

O’er Nova Scotia’s wilds to roam,

While far from children, friends, or wife,

Or place that I can call a home,

Delights not me;—another way

My treasures, pleasures, wishes lay.

In piercing, wet, and wintry skies,

Where man would seem in vain to toil,

I see, where’er I turn my eyes,

Luxuriant pasture, trees, and soil.

Uncharmed I see:—another way

My fondest hopes and wishes lay.

Oh, could I through the future see

Enough to form a settled plan,

To feed my infant train and thee

And fill the rank and style of man:

I’d cheerful be the livelong day;

Since all my wishes point that way.

But when I see a sordid shed

Of birchen bark, procured with care,

Designed to shield the aged head

Which British mercy placed there—

’Tis too, too much: I cannot stay,

But turn with streaming eyes away.

Oh, how your heart would bleed to view

Six pretty prattlers like your own,

Exposed to every wind that blew,

Condemned in such a hut to moan.

Could this be borne, Cordelia, say?

Contented in your cottage stay.

’Tis true, that in this climate rude,

The mind resolved may happy be;

And may with toil and solitude,

Live independent and be free.

So the lone hermit yields to slow decay:

Unfriended lives—unheeded glides away.

If so far humbled that no pride remains,

But moot indifference which way flows the stream;

Resigned to penury, its cares and pains;

And hope has left you like a painted dream;

Then here, Cordelia, bend your pensive way,

And close the evening of Life’s wretched day.