Alexander Hamilton Papers

The Soul ascending into Bliss, In humble imitation of Popes Dying Christian to his Soul, [17 October 1772]

The Soul ascending into Bliss,
In humble imitation of Popes Dying Christian to his Soul1

[St. Croix, October 17, 1772]

AH! whither, whither, am I flown,

A wandering guest in worlds unknown?

What is that I see and hear?

What heav’nly music fills mine ear?

Etherial glories shine around;

More than Arabias sweets abound.

Hark! hark! a voice from yonder sky,

Methinks I hear my Saviour cry,

Come gentle spirit come away,

Come to thy Lord without delay;

For thee the gates of bliss unbar’d

Thy constant virtue to reward.

I come oh Lord! I mount, I fly,

On rapid wings I cleave the sky;

Stretch out thine arm and aid my flight;

For oh! I long to gain that height,

Where all celestial beings sing

Eternal praises to their King.

O Lamb of God! thrice gracious Lord

Now, now I feel how true thy word;

Translated to this happy place,

This blessed vision of thy face;

My soul shall all thy steps attend

In songs of triumph without end.

The Royal Danish American Gazette, October 17, 1772; copy (incomplete), with minor word changes, Columbia University Libraries.

1Although it is impossible to determine beyond dispute that H was the author of this poem, it is attributed to him by J. C. Hamilton, who refers to it as “a hymn,” but ascribes it to the period when H attended school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey (Hamilton, Life description begins John C. Hamilton, The Life of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1840). description ends , I, 10, and JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851). description ends , I, 48). In the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, there is a copy in an unidentified writing of the first three verses of this poem. At the end of the third verse is written in the same hand: “Written by A. H. when 18 years old.” At the bottom of the page in still another handwriting is written: “This is a copy in pencil by Alex: Hamilton, my uncle—P.S.” The “P.S.” presumably refers to the Philip Schuyler who was the son of George L. Schuyler. George L. Schuyler had married H’s granddaughter, Mary Hamilton, daughter of James A. Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton who copied the poem was probably the son of James A. Hamilton, brother-in-law of George Schuyler and uncle of Philip Schuyler.

Two other poems that appeared in The Royal Danish American Gazette at this period may have been written by H. The first, which was signed “Omicron” and appeared in the issue of October 14, 1772, described the author’s “thoughts on seeing a fine Grove of Trees destroyed by the late Hurricane.” The other, which was printed in the issue of October 17, 1772, was entitled “The Melancholy Hours” and signed “Juvenis.” Neither poem has been reprinted in this edition of H’s papers, for the evidence that H was the author is far from conclusive.

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