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Love Poems From 1814 & 1815

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Catalog Information

Love Poems From 1814 & 1815
Accession Number
Date Added
8/24/2020 3:13:25 PM
Music, Poetry, Art
Gift of
Robert Underhill
Collection Title
Photos, E-Documents
Collection Description
Photographs and E-Docs not used in posted website entries
Bob Underhill
Format Description
Search Engine Type
On Nov. 29, 1814, 22 year old Reuben Hazen Wood (1792 - 1864) wrote a love poem to 16 year old Mary "Polly" Rice (1798 - 1886).  Polly had been born in Clarendon but at age 5 her father Truman Rice (1774 - 1850) moved the family from Clarendon to Elizabethtown, NY.  In 1810 Polly was sent back to this area to attend school and live with her Aunt Abigail Royce in Ira.  We don't know how Polly and Reuben met but he was clearly smitten.  The 1814 poem is as follows:

To Miss Polly Rice, Nov., 29, 1814

To the handsomest fair-one,
E’er nature produced.
To a beautiful damsel, so fair,
These lines I indite
And to her direct,
To peruse, with attention & care.

‘Tis often when morning,
I’ve heard her sweet voice
As it sang thro’ the chamber, so clear,
I thought of the nightingale,
Linnet and thrush,
To her their notes would not compare.

Her conduct engaging,
Her manners refined,
Render her an agreeable dame,
With the image of virtue,
Impressed, on her mind,
To praise all her worth, would cause study & theme

This beautiful damsel,
I frequently see,
Her charms, I esteem and adore,
I ever shall praise.

The second poem that survives is from Aug., 20, 1815:

Haec musa tibi datur, G.C.

'Tis far, far away, from her whom I love,
O'er meadows and lawns, I pensively rove;
Directing my course to some sweet flowing stream,
Where the thrushes and linnets in harmony sing.

In my lonely retreat, I imagine I hear,
When the thrush tunes her note, the voice of my Dear;
Recollecting the music, in one pleasant hour,
When she sang me the song of the G. S. Bower.

But alas! The next moment it seems to my mind
That we all are mortal, she may be entomb'd;
Her health and her beauty, her virtue and worth,
May repose in the dust, in the cold silent earth.

The thought that's so heavy, I cannot endure,
While writing of Polly, of Polly, my Dear;
My tears are fast dropping, I cannot refrain,
‘Till I know I've not courted my Polly in vain.

Reuben and Polly married March 16, 1816 in Ira.  What followed was an extraordinary life.  See the Mary Rice Wood, Almost 1st Lady? entry in the People collection to learn more about Reuben and Mary

The cover photo is of Reuben and the photo below is of Polly, followed by copies of the original poems. 

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