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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 221

              [newspaper clipping continued]
My arm was the arm of a clown, Je[annette]
It was sinewy, wristled, and brown, my pet;
But closely and softly it loved to caress,
Your warm white neck and your wealth of tress,
Your beautiful plenty of hair, my pet.

Thus ever I dream what you were, Jeannette,
With your eyes and your lips and your hair my
     pet:
Through the dreary and desolate years I moan,
And my tears fall heavily over the stone
That covers your golden hair, my pet.
             FITZ-JAMES O�BRIEN.
  A fiery young Irishman who distinguished
himself in letters and gave up his life for the
union was Fitz-James O�Brien.  He, like Hal-
pine, was a graduate of Trinity.  In New
York he joined a jolly crowd of bohemians
who lived carelessly and made the most of
good fellowship.  Reading selections to his
friends one evening from Emerson�s poems,
he astonished them with the following luscious
quatrain:
		Bacchus.
Pink as a rose was his skin so fair,
  Red as a rosebud his perfect shape,
And there lay a light in his tawny hair
  Like the sun in the heart of a bursting grape.
  It is needless to say that such a stanza as
this was not easily fathered on Emerson, and
the reader was forced to confess his own au-
thorship.  The little poem has a beauty which
has made it live by word of mouth to this
day.  It is not on his poems, however, so
much as on his stories that Fitz-James
O�Brien�s fame rests.  In writing short tales
he displayed an artistic workmanship strongly
resembling that of Edgar Poe.  �The Dia-
mond Lens,� for example, is justly regarded
as an American classic.  Of his poems called
out by occasions, his greatest is the �Monody
on Dr. Kane.�  A stanza is chosen from sev-
eral equally strong:
Not many months ago we greeted him.
  Crowned with the icy honors of the north.
  Across the land his hard-won fame, went forth,
And Maine�s deep woods were shaken limb by
  limb;
His own mild Keystone state, sedate and prim.
  Bursts from its decorous quiet as he came.
  Hot southern lips with eloquence aflame
Sounded in triumph.  Texas, wild and grim,
Proffered its horny hand.  The large-hinged west,
	From out its giant breast,
Yelled its frank welcome.  And from main to
     main,
	Jubilant to the sky,
	Thundered the mighty cry�
	     Honor to Kane!
  Fitz-James O�Brien met the death he prob-
ably desired in falling for his adopted country
on the battle-field.  In what was practically a
hand-to-hand duel in a skirmish he killed his
adversary, a Col. Ashley, and was himself
borne away mortally wounded.  Several of
O�Brien�s former comrades are still active
journalists in New York.  One of them Mr.
William Winter, collected O�Brien�s poems
and stories and published them in 1881 with
this dedication:
                     This volume,
        The first that ever has been made
                Of the writings of
               Fitz-James O�Brien,
                Soldier and Patriot,
           As well as Poet and Scholar,
                    Is Dedicated
           To the Army of the Potomac,
         Under Whose Flag He Fought,
        And for Whose Cause He Died.               
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