Sapphics: At the Mohawk-Castle, Canada. To Lieutenant Montgomery

By Thomas Morris 1732–1808 Thomas Morris
Ease is the pray’r of him who, in a whaleboat
Crossing Lake Champlain, by a storm’s o’ertaken:
Not struck his blanket, not a friendly island
   Near to receive him.

Ease is the wish too of the sly Canadian;
Ease the delight of bloody Caghnawagas;
Ease, Richard, ease, not to be bought with wampum,
   Nor paper money.

Nor colonel’s pay, nor yet a dapper sergeant,
Orderly waiting with recovered halberd,
Can chase the crowd of troubles still surrounding
   Laced regimentals.

That sub lives best who, with a sash in tatters
Worn by his grandsire at the fight of Blenheim,
To fear a stranger, and to wild ambition,
   Snores on a bearskin.

Why like fine-fellows are we ever scheming,
We short-lived mortals? Why so fond of climates
Warmed by new suns? O who, that runs from home, can
   Run from himself too?

Care climbs radeaux with four-and-twenty pounders,
Not quits our light troops, or our Indian warriors,
Swifter than moose-deer, or the fleeter east wind,
   Pushing the clouds on.

He, whose good humor can enjoy the present,
Scorns to look forward; with a smile of patience
Temp’ring the bitter. Bliss uninterrupted
   None can inherit.

Death instantaneous hurried off Achilles;
Age far-extended wore away Tithonus.
Who will live longer, thou or I, Montgom’ry?
   Dicky or Tommy?

Thee twenty messmates, full of noise and laughter,
Cheer with their sallies; thee the merry damsels
Please with their titt’ring; whilst thou sitt’st adorned with
   Boots, sash and gorget.

Me to Fort Hendrick, midst a savage nation,
Dull Connajohry, cruel fate has driven.
O think on Morris, in a lonely chamber,
   Dabbling in Sapphic.

Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Pearson, 2006)

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Poet Thomas Morris 1732–1808



Subjects Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Mythology & Folklore


British Captain Thomas Morris was born in 1732 in Carlisle. He was educated at Winchester College and joined the British army in 1749. As a lieutenant, Morris was sent with the 17th Regiment to America in 1758 to take part in the French and Indian War. He participated in the 1762 siege of Havana and then traveled to the Great Lakes region to lead peacemaking missions. His experiences among Native American tribes in the Great . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Mythology & Folklore



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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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