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, 1814To the handsomest
E’er nature produced.
To a beautiful damsel, so fair,
These lines I indite
And to her direct,
To peruse, with attention &
‘Tis often when morning,
I’ve heard her sweet voice
As it sang thro’ the chamber, so
I thought of the nightingale,
Linnet and thrush,
To her their notes would not
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.