My Father, Mother, Brothers, Sisters
They are all gone, but one.-
A daughter and a son
Were, from my parents, early taken away;
And my own childhood's joy
Was darkened when, a boy,
I saw them, in their coffins as they lay.
To manhood had I grown;
And children of my own
Were gathering round me, when my mother died.
I saw not her cold clay,
When it was borne away
And buried by her little children's side,
Beneath the now green sod.-
She led me first to God;
Her words and prayers were my young spirit's dew.
For, when she used to leave
The fireside, every eve,
I knew it was for prayer that she withdrew.
That dew, that blessed my youth,-
Her holy love, her truth,
Her spirit of devotion, and the tears
That she could not suppress,-
Hath never ceased to bless
My soul, nor will it, through eternal years.
How often has the thought
Of my mourned mother brought
Peace to my troubled spirit, and new power
The tempter to repel!
Mother, thou knowest well
That thou hast blessed me since thy mortal hour!
Two younger sisters then,
Both wives of worthy men,
After each one of them had been a mother,
Were touched by the cold hand,
And to the spirit-land,
In quick succession, followed one the other.
To neither could I speak;
Nor, on the marble cheek
Of either, drop a mourning brother's tear.-
The husband of the one,
The other's only son,
Have since been borne away upon the bier.
Lake Erie's waters cold
Over a brother rolled:
The day was bright; the lake scarce felt a breeze;
While I have yet been spared,
Though dangers I have dared,
Storms, rocks, and pirates in the Grecian seas.
Dear brother! in my dreams
Thy floating body seems
To lift its hand, and my poor aid implore!
I'm wakened by my weeping,
And know that thou art sleeping
In thy lone grave, on low Sandusky's shore.
I had one brother more,
The last my mother bore;
He was a boy when forth I went to roam.
He delved upon the farm;
Our father's aged arm
Leaned upon him,-his hope, his prop,-at home.
He sunk beneath the weight
Of manly cares. A great
And growing name he left for strength and worth.
'T was but five months ago!
My father felt the blow,
And now he, too, has passed away from earth.
O, could I but have heard
One parting, blessing word
From all these dying loved ones! But the pall,
Unseen by me, was thrown,
And the green turf hath grown,
Wet by no tear of mine, over them all;-
All, but the last:-thank God!
Before the heavy clod
Fell on his coffin, to its side I drew;
And, though the thin, white hair
Lay, like the hoar frost, there,
My hand his forehead pressed, that felt like freezing dew.
It had been marked with care,
It had been bowed in prayer,
For many a year ere death upon it stole.
O'er it I bent alone.
'T was love's forsaken throne,
And its death chill went to my very soul!
Of all am I bereft!
Only one sister left,-
A weeping willow, that to many a blast
Hath bowed her slender form.-
O God, hold back the storm
That thou shalt send to break her down, at last!
Father, to thee I bow!
In very love hast thou
Thy children summoned from earth's toils and tears.
Uphold me by thy strength,
Until I join, at length,
The friends thou gavest to my earliest years.
John Pierpont's Other Poems
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