Archive for January 22nd, 2012

Bellman (2)

Bennett T. Bellman was a man of many hats, as testified by his tombstone. Perhaps most interestingly, I have encountered him as part of my research on others who rest in Cumberland County’s cemeteries. He was one of the authors of History of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and wrote An Historical Sketch of the Borough of Carlisle and The Bench and Bar of Pennsylvania: Cumberland County. The one book of his poetry that I have been able to find referenced is called The Lighter Lyric – And Other Poems. You can also find his poems in various 19th century publications cataloged in Google Books. I found the text of one of his poems, “On the Conodoguinet,” which appealed to me particularly because I grew up near the Conodoguinet Creek and so feel a strange sort of a connection to a man who died more than 70 years before my birth.


When the birds are in the bushes and the sun is in the sky,
Where the golden song of thrush is, when the fleecy clouds are high,
In the balmy air of Springtime, when the blossoms bloom in May,
I take my boat and row and float, far from the world away.

Between blue distant mountains are fair Cumberland’s green hills,
With sunshine on her fields afar and ripples on her rills,
With the blossoms on her branches all ablooming in the May,
In a world that hath no sorrow, in the sunshine of to-day.

Here old Conodoguinet widens with reflections of its trees
That show within its crystal depth unruffled by the breeze,
In its bosom holding fondly there a glimpse of azure sky
Which doth bend, a dome above me, but below me, too, doth lie.

With Nature healthful, pure and sweet, now in her smiling mood,
I fain would lay me at her feet, into her courts intrude,
Learn the deep wisdom here that dwells amid her silent hills
In song of bird in leafy dells, in ripple of her rills.

On yonder looming limestone bluff o’er which the sky doth shine,
I see the oak and elm trees, 1 see the darker pine.
Whose sweet balsamic odor is now wafted on the breeze
Sweeter than perfumed air that blows among Arabian trees.

Within a sylvan scene like this, what soul could e’er repine?
To drink the sunlight here is bliss, like old Olympian wine.
For in the sun and wood and stream, I feel the throbbing heart
Of the great Mother who doth hold us all of her a part.

Her “still small voice” one moment fills the vasty vague immense.
One moment with her pulse I thrill through every wakened sense,
She kindly looks upon me, so ! — my heart hath once beguiled,
And though she turn and leave me, lo! I know she once hath smiled.

So, floating on the stream to-day, I have this lesson learned —
Like to a wandering prodigal to her I have returned,
And fain would let men fight for fame, or learning of the books.
If one may stay with Nature here, beside her running brooks.

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