BY WILLIAM ROSS WALLACE.
In such a glorious night as this, did COLE,
The bard of colors, on this glittering rock
Talk with the scenes around, below, above,
And for his canvas play the brilliant thief,
Not sacrilegiously. O broad, bright moon!
As then, thou movest now, superbly calm,
And silent as a god; amid thy realm
Of spangling stars, too full of power and love
For speech! thou broad, blue river, rolled below;
As then, thou rollest now, like some great thought
Upon its mission too intense for sound:
Ye towns along its opulent margin built!
As then, ye sleep in calm, sweet moonlight now:
But he, the adorer of the Beautiful,
Is gone, gone in his glory to the grave
Forever. Weep him not; this splendor here
Was but the promise of that greater light
In which his pencil dips for canvas-forms
That gild the galleries of Eternity.
O, weep him not: still, Nature, wed to Time,
Shall gem the Earth with genius—still hr sons
Shall build the altars of the Beautiful;
And often on this ancient rock, with her
A holy vigil keep beneath you moon,
And, in their turn, bright, tender memories leave
Unto these scenes, where Art and Poetry
Shall through the long, but dying ages walk
Imperial, Thought’s deathless gods.
* At Lansingburg, on the Hudson.
New York Ledger. November 3, 1860: 3.
The poet William Ross Wallace (1819-1881), perhaps best known for “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is the Hand That Rules The World,” might have visited Lansingburgh or imagined a visit for a poem about Diamond Rock. In the first line he references the Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole (1801-1848) — Cole’s home in Catskill, New York is a National Historic Site. Wallace wrote, “he, the adorer of the Beautiful/Is gone” and thus the poem (it’s not clear if this 1860 appearance is its first publication) is not set in some time that Cole lived, but rather after his death.
Possibly Wallace was using a nightscape painting of Diamond Rock by Cole or one of the Hudson River valley from the vantage point of Diamond Rock to inspire his poem, though no such painting is readily found on a cursory initial Internet search. Such a painting by Cole would be wonderful to see!
Wallace, who worked as a lawyer in New York City, wrote at least one other poem through which the same river flowed: “Hymn to the River Hudson Opposite New York.” The Columbian Magazine. May 1848. 206-207. https://books.google.com/books?id=bxUTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA206