Peter Bayley (1778?-1823)

"Peter Bayley published in Philadelphia in 1804 a small volume of poems, sixteen of which are well-constructed Italian sonnets, of a quiet, reflective nature." (Sterner). [Note: Though Bayley is included in Sterner's survey of American sonnets, an alert reader has informed me that he was, in fact, English, and published the volume from which "On Hearing an Eolian Harp" is taken in England in 1803.--E.B.]

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On Hearing an Eolian Harp

Sure 'tis the voice of choired saints that flows
Along the billows of the softened breeze. . .
And now, in falls and dying symphonies,
So sweet it glides, that forth my rapt soul goes
To join those hymnings, ta'en from all her woes.
Yet once more, and once more, ye minstrelsies
Of power, my stormy spirit to appease,
With some dissolving dream my thoughts compose. . .
Again your strains float, sinking on the wind,
Soft, wild, and mournful all; now melt away,
Faintly perceived, like some expiring ray
Of memory that trembles o'er the mind,
Lovely in its departure, still enshrined
As the blest relic of a happy day.

(Text from The Sonnet in American Literature.)