Southern Life in Southern Literature/Richard Henry Wilde

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[Richard Henry Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1789, and died in New Orleans in 1847. When he was a boy his family came to America and settled in Baltimore. Upon the death of his father he removed to Georgia, where he studied law and entered politics, eventually becoming for several terms a member of Congress. During a stay in Europe from 1835 to 1840 he did considerable study in Dante and Tasso, and helped to discover Giotto's portrait of the first-named poet. On his return he settled in New Orleans, where he became professor of law in the University of Louisiana. Meanwhile he had made a reputation for himself as a poet by poems contributed to newspapers and magazines, which he did not collect during his life into book form.]


My life is like the summer rose,
That opens to the morning sky,
But, ere the shades of evening close,
Is scattered on the ground—to die!
Yet on the rose’s humble bed
The sweetest dews of night are shed,
As if she wept the waste to see—
But none shall weep a tear for me!

My life is like the autumn leaf
That trembles in the moon s pale ray:
Its hold is frail—its date is brief,
Restless—and soon to pass away!
Yet, ere that leaf shall fall and fade,
The parent tree will mourn its shade,
The winds bewail the leafless tree—
But none shall breathe a sigh for me!

My life is like the prints, which feet
Have left on Tampa’s desert strand;
Soon as the rising tide shall beat,
All trace will vanish from the sand;
Yet, as if grieving to efface
All vestige of the human race,
On that lone shore loud moans the sea—
But none, alas! shall mourn for me!


Winged mimic of the woods! thou motley fool!
Who shall thy gay buffoonery describe?
Thine ever-ready notes of ridicule
Pursue thy fellows still with jest and gibe.
Wit, sophist, songster, Yorick of thy tribe,
Thou sportive satirist of Nature’s school,
To thee the palm of scoffing we ascribe,
Arch-mocker and mad Abbot of Misrule!
For such thou art by day—but all night long
Thou pourest a soft, sweet, pensive, solemn strain,
As if thou didst in this thy moonlight song
Like to the melancholy Jacques complain,
Musing on falsehood, folly, vice, and wrong,
And sighing for thy motley coat again.