February 15, 2013

Curry: the better years begin

The Ohio-born Otway Curry was a lawyer, legislator, signer of Ohio's State Constitution, magazine editor and, on occasion, a poet. He earned some renown nationwide and was particularly praised for advocating culture in the West — the state of Ohio in particular. One of his poems written for the campaign of William Henry Harrison, "The Buckeye Cabin Song," is credited by some for the origin of Ohio's nickname as the Buckeye State. Curry's death on February 15, 1855 inspired statewide mourning.

Curry began publishing his poems in Ohio in 1827. His style is somewhat dreamy (and he has been compared to Edgar Allan Poe because of it). He never published a complete book in his lifetime. His poem, "The Sweet Hereafter," was one of several anthologized in Rufus W. Griswold's The Poets and Poetry of America:

'Tis sweet to think when struggling
     The goal of life to win,
That just beyond the shores of time
     The better years begin.

When through the nameless ages
     I cast my longing eyes,
Before me, like a boundless sea,
     The Great Hereafter lies.

Along its brimming bosom
     Perpetual summer smiles;
And gathers, like a golden robe,
     Around the emerald isles.

There in the blue long distance,
     By lulling breezes fanned,
I seem to see the flowering groves
     Of old Beulah's land.

And far beyond the islands
     That gem the wave serene,
The image of the cloudless shore
     Of holy Heaven is seen.

Unto the Great Hereafter—
     Aforetime dim and dark—
I freely now and gladly give
     Of life the wandering bark.

And in the far-off haven,
     When shadowy seas are passed,
By angel hands its quivering sails
     Shall all be furled at last!

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