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Best Famous Philip Freneau Poems

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by Philip Freneau |

To the Memory of the Brave Americans

 Under General Greene, in South Carolina,
  who fell in the action of September 8, 1781

AT Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
 Their limbs with dust are covered o'er--
Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
 How many heroes are no more!

If in this wreck or ruin, they
 Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
O smite your gentle breast, and say
 The friends of freedom slumber here!

Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
 If goodness rules thy generous breast,
Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
 Sign for the shepherds, sunk to rest!

Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
 You too may fall, and ask a tear;
'Tis not the beauty of the morn
 That proves the evening shall be clear.
-- They saw their injured country's woe; The flaming town, the wasted field; Then rushed to meet the insulting foe; They took the spear--but left the shield.
Led by thy conquering genius, Greene, The Britons they compelled to fly; None distant viewed the fatal plain, None grieved, in such a cause to die-- But, like the Parthian, famed of old, Who, flying, still their arrows threw, These routed Britons, full as bold, Retreated, and retreating slew.
Now rest in peace, our patriot band, Though far from nature's limits thrown, We trust they find a happier land, A brighter sunshine of their own.


by Philip Freneau |

On The Death Of Dr. Benjamin Franklin

 Thus, some tall tree that long hath stood 
The glory of its native wood, 
By storms destroyed, or length of years, 
Demands the tribute of our tears.
The pile, that took long time to raise, To dust returns by slow decays: But, when its destined years are o'er, We must regret the loss the more.
So long accustomed to your aid, The world laments your exit made; So long befriended by your art, Philosopher, 'tis hard to part!-- When monarchs tumble to the ground, Successors easily are found: But, matchless FRANKLIN! what a few Can hope to rival such as YOU, Who seized from kings their sceptered pride, And turned the lightning darts aside.


by Philip Freneau |

On the Ruins of a Country Inn

 WHERE now these mingled ruins lie 
A temple once to Bacchus rose, 
Beneath whose roof, aspiring high, 
Full many a guest forgot his woes.
No more this dome, by tempests torn, Affords a social safe retreat; But ravens here, with eye forlorn, And clustering bats henceforth will meet.
The Priestess of this ruined shrine, Unable to survive the stroke, Presents no more the ruddy wine,-- Her glasses gone, her china broke.
The friendly Host, whose social hand Accosted strangers at the door, Has left at length his wonted stand, And greets the weary guest no more.
Old creeping Time, that brings decay, Might yet have spared these mouldering walls, Alike beneath whose potent sway A temple or a tavern falls.
Is this the place where mirth and joy, Coy nymphs, and sprightly lads were found? Indeed! no more the nymphs are coy, No more the flowing bowls go round.
Is this the place where festive song Deceived the wintry hours away? No more the swains the tune prolong, No more the maidens join the lay.
Is this the place where Nancy slept In downy beds of blue and green? Dame Nature here no vigils kept, No cold unfeeling guards were seen.
’T is gone!--and Nancy tempts no more; Deep, unrelenting silence reigns; Of all that pleased, that charmed before, The tottering chimney scarce remains.
Ye tyrant winds, whose ruffian blast Through doors and windows blew too strong, And all the roof to ruin cast,-- The roof that sheltered us so long,-- Your wrath appeased, I pray be kind If Mopsus should the dome renew, That we again may quaff his wine, Again collect our jovial crew.


by Philip Freneau |

On a Honey Bee

 Thou born to sip the lake or spring,
Or quaff the waters of the stream,
Why hither come on vagrant wing?--
Does Bacchus tempting seem--
Did he, for you, the glass prepare?--
Will I admit you to a share?

Did storms harrass or foes perplex,
Did wasps or king-birds bring dismay--
Did wars distress, or labours vex,
Or did you miss your way?--
A better seat you could not take
Than on the margin of this lake.
Welcome!--I hail you to my glass: All welcome, here, you find; Here let the cloud of trouble pass, Here, be all care resigned.
-- This fluid never fails to please, And drown the griefs of men or bees.
What forced you here, we cannot know, And you will scarcely tell-- But cheery we would have you go And bid a glad farewell: On lighter wings we bid you fly, Your dart will now all foes defy.
Yet take not oh! too deep a drink, And in the ocean die; Here bigger bees than you might sink, Even bees full six feet high.
Like Pharaoh, then, you would be said To perish in a sea of red.
Do as you please, your will is mine; Enjoy it without fear-- And your grave will be this glass of wine, Your epitaph--a tear-- Go, take your seat in Charon's boat, We'll tell the hive, you died afloat.


by Philip Freneau |

The Indian Burying Ground

 In spite of all the learn'd have said;
I still my old opinion keep,
The posture, that we give the dead,
Points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands -- The Indian, when from life releas'd Again is seated with his friends, And shares gain the joyous feast.
His imag'd birds, and painted bowl, And ven'son, for a journey dress'd, Bespeak the nature of the soul, Activity, that knows no rest.
His bow, for action ready bent, And arrows, with a head of stone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the finer essence gone.
Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way.
No fraud upon the dead commit -- Observe the swelling turf, and say They do not lie, but here they sit.
Here still lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace, (Now wasted, half, by wearing rains) The fancies of a older race.
Here still an aged elm aspires, Beneath whose far -- projecting shade (And which the shepherd still admires The children of the forest play'd! There oft a restless Indian queen (Pale Shebah, with her braided hair) And many a barbarous form is seen To chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews, In habit for the chase array'd, The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer, a shade! And long shall timorous fancy see The painted chief, and pointed spear, And reason's self shall bow the knee To shadows and delusions here.


by Philip Freneau |

Song of Thyrsis

 THE turtle on yon withered bough,
That lately mourned her murdered mate,
Has found another comrade now--
Such changes all await!
Again her drooping plume is drest,
Again she's willing to be blest
And takes her lover to her nest.
If nature has decreed it so With all above, and all below, Let us like them forget our woe, And not be killed with sorrow.
If I should quit your arms to-night And chance to die before 't was light, I would advise you -- and you might -- Love again to-morrow.


by Philip Freneau |

The Vernal Age

 WHERE the pheasant roosts at night,
Lonely, drowsy, out of sight,
Where the evening breezes sigh
Solitary, there stray I.
Close along the shaded stream, Source of many a youthful dream, Where branchy cedars dim the day There I muse, and there I stray.
Yet, what can please amid this bower, That charmed the eye for many an hour! The budding leaf is lost to me, And dead the bloom on every tree.
The winding stream, that glides along, The lark, that tunes her early song, The mountain's brow, the sloping vale, The murmuring of the western gale, Have lost their charms!--the blooms are gone! Trees put a darker aspect on, The stream disgusts that wanders by, And every zephyr brings a sigh.
Great guardian of our feeble kind!-- Restoring Nature, lend thine aid! And o'er the features of the mind Renew those colors, that must fade, When vernal suns forbear to roll, And endless winter chills the soul.


by Philip Freneau |

To A New England Poet

 Though skilled in Latin and in Greek,
And earning fifty cents a week,
Such knowledge, and the income, too,
Should teach you better what to do:
The meanest drudges, kept in pay,
Can pocket fifty cents a day.
Why stay in such a tasteless land, Where all must on a level stand, (Excepting people, at their ease, Who choose the level where they please:) See Irving gone to Britain's court To people of another sort, He will return, with wealth and fame, While Yankees hardly know your name.
Lo! he has kissed a Monarch's--hand! Before a prince I see him stand, And with the glittering nobles mix, Forgetting times of seventy-six, While you with terror meet the frown Of Bank Directors of the town, The home-made nobles of our times, Who hate the bard, and spurn his rhymes.
Why pause?--like Irving, haste away, To England your addresses pay; And England will reward you well, Of British feats, and British arms, The maids of honor, and their charms.
Dear bard, I pray you, take the hint, In England what you write and print, Republished here in shop, or stall, Will perfectly enchant us all: It will assume a different face, And post your name at every place, From splendid domes of first degree Where ladies meet, to sip their tea; From marble halls, where lawyers plead, Or Congress-men talk loud, indeed, To huts, where evening clubs appear, And 'squires resort--to guzzle Beer.


by Philip Freneau |

To Mr. Blanchard the Celebrated Aeronaut in America

 Nil mortalibus ardui est
  Caelum ipsum petimus stultitia
   Horace

FROM Persian looms the silk he wove
No Weaver meant should trail above
The surface of the earth we tread,
To deck the matron or the maid.
But you ambitious, have design'd With silk to soar above mankind:-- On silk you hang your splendid car And mount towards the morning star.
How can you be so careless--gay: Would you amidst red lightnings play; Meet sulphurous blasts, and fear them not-- Is Phaeton's sad fate forgot? Beyond our view you mean to rise-- And this Balloon, of mighty size, Will to the astonish'd eye appear, An atom wafted thro' the air.
Where would you rove? amidst the storms, Departed Ghosts, and shadowy forms, Vast tracks of aether, and, what's more, A sea of space without a shore!-- Would you to Herschell find the way-- To Saturn's moons, undaunted stray; Or, wafted on a silken wing, Alight on Saturn's double ring? Would you the lunar mountains trace, Or in her flight fair Venus chase; Would you, like her, perform the tour Of sixty thousand miles an hour?-- To move at such a dreadful rate He must propel, who did create-- By him, indeed, are wonders done Who follows Venus round the sun.
At Mars arriv'd, what would you see!-- Strange forms, I guess--not such as we; Alarming shapes, yet seen by none; For every planet has its own.
If onward still, you urge your flight You may approach some satellite, Some of the shining train above That circle round the orb of Jove.
Attracted by so huge a sphere You might become a stranger here: There you might be, if there you fly, A giant sixty fathoms high.
May heaven preserve you from that fate! Here, men are men of little weight: There, Polypheme, it might be shown, Is but a middle sized baboon.
-- This ramble through, the aether pass'd, Pray tell us when you stop at last; Would you with gods that aether share, Or dine on atmospheric air?-- You have a longing for the skies, To leave the fogs that round us rise, To haste your flight and speed your wings Beyond this world of little things.
Your silken project is too great; Stay here, Blanchard, 'till death or fate To which, yourself, like us, must bow, Shall send you where you want to go.
Yes--wait, and let the heav'ns decide;-- Your wishes may be gratified, And you shall go, as swift as thought, Where nature has more finely wrought, Her Chrystal spheres, her heavens serene; A more sublime, enchanting scene Than thought depicts or poets feign.


by Philip Freneau |

The Wild Honey-Suckle

 Fair flower, that dost so comely grow,
Hid in this silent, dull retreat,
Untouched thy honied blossoms blow,
Unseen thy little branches greet;
.
.
.
No roving foot shall crush thee here, .
.
.
No busy hand provoke a tear.
By Nature's self in white arrayed, She bade thee shun the vulgar eye, And planted here the gaurdian shade, And sent soft waters murmuring by; .
.
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Thus quietly thy summer goes, .
.
.
Thy days declinging to repose.
Smit with those charms, that must decay, I grieve to see your future doom; They died--nor were those flowers more gay, The flowers that did in Eden bloom; .
.
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Unpitying frosts, and Autumn's power .
.
.
Shall leave no vestige of this flower.
From morning suns and evenign dews At first thy little being came: If nothing once, you nothing lose, For when you die you are the same; .
.
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The space between, is but an hour, .
.
.
The frail duration of a flower.