June 1, 2013

Wilde: All I have seen, and all I see

Though born in Ireland, Richard Henry Wilde embraced his adoptive country of the United States. He served a handful of terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia, though he lost a re-election campaign in 1835. Three months later, he was on board a ship traveling to Europe, hoping to alleviate an illness and recover from his arduous public service. The trip would mark the beginning of a transition from politician to literary man; it was at sea on June 1, 1835, that he wrote "A Farewell to America," a poem praising the country he was temporarily leaving:

Farewell! my more than fatherland!
   Home of my heart and friends, adieu!
Lingering beside some foreign strand,
   How oft shall I remember you!
How often, o'er the waters blue,
   Send back a sigh to those I leave,
The loving and beloved few,
   Who grieve for me,—for whom I grieve!

We part!—no matter how we part,
   There are some thoughts we utter not,
Deep treasured in our inmost heart,
   Never reveal'd, and ne'er forgot!
Why murmur at the common lot?
   We part!—I speak not of the pain,—
But when shall I each lovely spot
   And each loved face behold again?

It must be months,—it may be years,—
   It may—but no!—I will not fill
Fond hearts with gloom,—fond eyes with tears,
   "Curious to shape uncertain ill."
Though humble,—few and far,—yet, still
   Those hearts and eyes are ever dear;
Theirs is the love no time can chill,
   The truth no chance or change can sear!

All I have seen, and all I see,
   Only endears them more and more;
Friends cool, hopes fade, and hours flee,
   Affection lives when all is o'er!
Farewell, my more than native shore!
   I do not seek or hope to find,
Roam where I will, what I deplore
   To leave with them and thee behind!


  1. Quoted from Wikipedia:-

    "As literature does no good for an advocate's reputation, I should be pleased if you will give my place... to somebody else." - Richard Wilde responded to Rufus Wilmot Griswold.

    He was down to earth person as well apart from being an excellent poet.

  2. I'm not sure how much credence I'd give to that quote. Many poets wrote similar sentiments to Griswold in a sort of submissive humility before happily responding with all that Griswold requested. But, yes, I did quite enjoy this poem and find it a wonderfully personal demonstration of his connection to the US and its people.

  3. This is an amazing poem. I'm new to this blog and hadn't heard of Wilde. I write a blog on 19th-century authors of short stories so I look forward to reading your posts. I like to give my blog readers links to information about the authors I feature, and I'd love to post your link on my blog sometime. Do you have a schedule or list of what authors you might be featuring for June?

  4. Hi, Paula. I haven't written many of the posts for June yet so I don't know what's coming up. I hope you stick around, however, and find something useful for your own site!


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