April 6, 2011

Birth of Edmund Hamilton Sears

Edmund Hamilton Sears was born in western Massachusetts on April 6, 1810. Later a Unitarian minister, Sears became a lover of poetry at a young age with the help of his father. "This was one of the circumstances which went to determine my tastes and pursuits," he recalled. Sears records that his earliest memories were his father reading poetry to him — "or rather chanting... for he never read without a sort of sing-song tone." Sears himself wrote the words to the song "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" (the music was written by Richard Storrs Willis, brother of man of letters Nathaniel Parker Willis).

In his long life, Sears published several books of both sermons and poetry combined. His poem, "Serenity":

My friend, where'er you tread this scene
   Of varied joys and cares,
Preserve thy mind alike serene
   In sad or gay affairs.

Whether you live in sorrow's shade,
   Or on the grass recline
In bowers by pines and poplars made
   To quaff the generous wine, —

There, while the boughs above thy head
   A living roof weave high,
And purling brooks with quivering tread
   Run bounding gladly by,—

Let them bring wine, and sweet perfume,
   And roses fresh and gay;
For soon, like these, we cease to bloom,
   And fade from earth away.

The house, the grove, the costly field
   Which yellow Tiber laves,
This heaped-up wealth to heirs we yield,
   And seek forgotten graves.

The highest and the humblest thing,
   The wealthiest, poorest, — all
Are victims to the tyrant king,
   And all alike must fall.

Even now the fatal lot we know
   Is shaken in the urn:
Soon it comes forth, and then we go
   Whence we shall not return.

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