James M. Whitfield's America and Other Poems

  Table of Contents:
Cover Page
"Christmas Hymn"
"Lines on the Death of J. Quincy Adams"
"To Cinque"
"New Year's Hymn"
"To A.H."
"How Long"
"The Arch Apostate"
"The Misanthropist"
"A Hymn"
"Yes! strike again that sounding string"
"To -------"
"Prayer of the Oppressed"
"To S.A.T."
"Delusive Hope"
"To M.E.A."
"A Hymn"
"Ode for the Fourth of July"
"Midnight Musings"
"Ode to Music"
"Stanzas for the First of August"
"The North Star"
(text of all poems)

  Midnight Musings p1
"Midnight Musings"
close-up 1 | 2 | 3

THE gloomy night has cast a shroud
   Upon the dwelling-place of men;
Hushed are the voices of the crowd,
   And silence reigns o’er hill and glen.
My winged fancy takes its flight
   Through the unfathomed dark abyss,
And rends the vail of somber night
   From many scenes of woe and bliss.
Midnight Musings p2 I enter first the poor man’s cot;
   The sick wife, on her straw-made bed,
Reflects upon her lowly lot,
   While piercing pains distract her head;
The famished children’s cries for bread
   Are issued in such piteous tones,
The father hangs his drooping head,
   To hear his wife and children’s moans.
The eyes of all that meager train
   Turned upon him to seek relief:
The thought o’erwhelms his burning brain
   With silent but expressive grief.
Near to the cot, a mansion proud
   Raises its stately roof tow’rd heaven;
While mirth and revelry full loud
   Burst on the stillness of the even.
Here wealth spreads her luxurious board,
   And glittering crowds the feast partake,
Not caring how the starving horde
   Of hungry poor their fast may break.
The wealth profusely squandered here,
   In gorgeous dress and proud array,
  Midnight Musings p3 Would furnish forth good homely cheer
   On many a dreary winter’s day,
To those who now, by want oppressed,
   Or smitten by some dire disease,
Pray fervently to God for rest,
   That death may come their pangs to ease.
And do you think a righteous God
   Will listen to your wretched pleas,
That when you saw his chastening rod
   Inflicting famine and disease
Upon your fellow-men, that ye
   Should grant no aid to their distress,
But use your every energy
   To wrong, and crush them, and oppress?
No! when you stand before his bar,
   You’ll hear pronounced this awful doom:
"Depart from me, ye cursed, afar,
   And give my humble followers room!"

Introduction Biography Contexts Critical Voices Teaching Approaches Bibliography