Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Sonnet & an Edgar Allan Poe connection

Henry Beck Hirst, a Philadelphia resident and lawyer interested in international copyright, poetry, ornithology and curious keeper of a raven as a pet, has been referred to as Edgar Allan Poe's "rollicking companion" during Poe's stay in the city of brotherly love. Hirst was also known as a notorious absinthe drinker, most likely attributing to rumors of Poe's own supposed interest in the magical liquor, known commonly as La Fée Verte, or the Green Fairy.

Hirst (left) and Poe (right), the picture of rollickingness?

The following poem was written by Henry B. Hirst in April 1843 and published in the Camden Mail and General Advertiser. As a lawyer, and aspiring poet, visiting Woodbury, NJ for the famous Mercer trial, Hirst had this to say about the "serenest town":

          Woodbury - A Sonnet.

A little vill embower'd round with trees,
     Where Heaven's delicious ether seems more sweet
     Than in the heated city! There the feet
Of summer trip more lightly, and the breeze
Sings softer songs, the birds more am'rous lays
     Troll mid the leaves of heaven-kissing elms -
     Till beauty like a gush of music whelms
The languid soul that yearns to sing its praise.
There may be brighter spots beneath the sun,
     But none so calm in beauty, none so still
     With heaven's own quiet; and I stand and fill
My soul's full cup till it doth overflow
With loveliness and light, and I bow down
To thee, as to a shrine, serenest town!

It certainly makes one wonder if Hirst ever discussed Woodbury with Poe or, better yet, convinced Poe to accompany him on a rollicking adventure to the "little vill embower'd round with trees"!

Edgar Allan Poe's house in Philadelphia is about 11 miles away from Woodbury located at: 532 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123. It is a National Historic Site, freely open to the public.