Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Great Fellow of My Being!

by Jones Very

Day! I lament that none can hymn thy praise 
In fitting strains, of all thy riches bless;
Though thousands sport them in thy golden rays,
Yet none like thee their Maker's name confess.
Great fellow of my being! woke with me
Thou dost put on thy dazzling robes of light,
And onward from the east go forth to free
Thy children from the bondage of the night;
I hail thee, pilgrim! on thy lonely way,
Whose looks on all alike benignant shine;
A child of light, like thee, I cannot stay,
But on the world I bless must soon decline,
New rising still, though setting to mankind,
And ever in the eternal West my dayspring find.

Jones Very is a poet with a very interesting career. He was born in 1813 in Salem, Massachusetts and became a Unitarian clergyman and a tutor at Harvard recognized for being one of his generation's foremost experts on Shakespeare; he also became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and failed, despite trying, to become friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne. He had a reputation for acting oddly, especially when in a large group. He began to tell people that the Second Coming was happening inside him, and, eventually, that he was the Second Coming of Christ. Harvard relieved him of his duties as tutor and eventually he was committed to the mental institution, where he lectured his fellow inmates on Shakespeare. He refused to renounce his beliefs, but was eventually released anyway. Emerson continued to support his poetic work, but Very became a recluse for the last several decades of his life until he died in 1880. Highly respected for his poetry in his own life, his name all but disappeared after his death.

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