Monday, January 22, 2007

A Curious Poem

The other day, I ran across a rather unusual poem. The poem was written by John Denton, who was a member of the ill-fated Donner Party. It was found on the leaf of a memorandum book that was discovered by Denton's body, by the second relief party. Denton had attempted to make it out of the deadly valley, but was too exhausted to make it. Interestingly, Denton may have been the first person to find gold in that area, although nobody knows for sure. Denton was originally from Sheffield, England and was about 28 years old, when he died.

Apparently, there is a copy of the poem in the State Library in Sacramento in The California Star of 1847. It was also apparently published by one Judge Thornton, in 1849. However, I do not have a more precise reference. As this poem does not sound the kind of thing that would normally make it into the Norton Anthology, I thought that I would bring it to people's attention by posting it here. N.B. The age of the poem ensures that it should not be encumbered by copyright, anymore. The poem has no title.

"Oh! after many roving years,
How sweet it is to come
Back to the dwelling-place of youth,
Our first and dearest home;
To turn away our wearied eyes
From Proud ambition's towers,
And wander in those summers fields,
The scenes of boyhood's hours.

"But I am changed since last I gazed
Upon that tranquil scene,
And sat beneath the old witch elm
That shades the village green;
And watched my boat upon the brook--
It was a regal gallery--
And sighed not for a joy on earth,
Beyond the happy valley.

"I wish I could once more recall
That bright and blissful joy,
And summon to my weary heart
The feelings of a boy.
But now on scenes of past delight
I look, and feel no pleasure,
As misers on the bed of death
Gaze coldly on their treasure."

--John Denton

The CP

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