Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Islands of Erie" by Dr. Robert R. McMeens

Image courtesy WikiPedia

According to notes made by C. L. Martzloff, who collected and annotated POEMS ON OHIO, Sandusky physician Dr. Robert R. McMeens wrote the poem entitled "The Islands of Erie." It was read on the occasion of the anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie in 1858. The poem appears on page 33 of POEMS ON OHIO. POEMS ON OHIO was published by the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, and was printed by the F.J. Heer Printing Company in Columbus, Ohio in 1911.


By Robert R. McMEENS, M. D. (1820-1862)

The Islands of Erie arrayed in full dress,
Enrobe the lake scene with strange loveliness,
As gorgeously decked in bright verdure they lie,
In the soft mellow haze of the still autumn sky.
No more brilliant gems though lauded they be
Ever gleamed 'mid the groups of the old Grecian sea.
They circle the storm-brewing gates of the west
To soothe the "mad spirit" of Erie to rest
And lend their slight forms to the rage of the sea
To shelter the storm-tossed in succoring lee;
Or, like sentinels, seem to be pointing the way
To the harboring arms of bold "Put-in-bay."

When the winds breathless sleep in their caverns of peace,
How sylph-like they sit on the lake's lucent face,
Or mirrored in beauty on crimson dyed wave
When the sun silent sinks in her gold-tinted grave,
And the purple horizon depends as a shroud,
Of a tapestried mantle, in folds of rich cloud,
Then deep'ning so gently upon the pale glow,
So somber and sad, scarcely seeming to know
When the last flitting ray of fading twilight
Merges in darkness and death gloom of night.

Oh! Islands of Erie, how many a scene
Of shipwreck and battle around you have been!
How many a gallant young hero went clown
When Perry and sailors won glorious renown!
You stand as proud monuments over the dead,
Who sleep at your feet in their coffinless bed.
While the winds shriek or whisper a requiem sigh,

And the waves join in murmuring a fond lullaby,
And the mariner gliding along by your side
Recounts all their deeds with emotions of pride.
Oh, Islands of beauty, on Erie's broad breast
That smile in the sunshine like havens of rest;
Or when the storm-god in his wrath wildly raves,
Like "sisters" of mercy hang o'er the waves,
E'er bloom in your freshness as lovely as now,
To enrapture the eye and make the heart glow.


The Battle of Lake Erie
was fought on September 10, 1813 during the War of 1812. Oliver Hazard Perry, who led the Americans, became a national hero after his victory. Click here to read more about the Battle of Lake Erie and Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial. Dr. McMeens went on to become a surgeon with the Third Ohio Infantry. He died during his service in the Civil War on October 30, 1862.


PalmsRV said...

Dorene, The poem is lovely. Only visited Put-In-Bay once and it was a memorable experience. Hope the renovations to Perry's Monument are finished by next summer. My mind is inhabited by the War of 1812 these days, so I really enjoyed the reminders of that era.

Dorene from Ohio said...

A group of us from work got to tour the South Bass Island Lighthouse a few years ago, and take a close-up look at Cooke Castle. It was so delightful! I too hope they finish the renovations at Perry's Monument soon!

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Beautiful poem, Dorene. Thank you for sharing it here. I had not read it before and enjoyed it.


Bill West said...

Another wonderful poem for another Challenge. Thank you so much for the
poem, Dorene!