Tag Archives: Asher Durand

To Solitude

Kindred Spirits. Asher Durand. 1849.


To Solitude

John Keats, 1816


O Solitude! If I must with thee dwell,

Let it not be among the jumbled heap

Of murky buildings;—climb with me the steep,

Nature’s Observatory—whence the dell,

Its flowery slopes—its rivers crystal swell,

May seem a span: let me thy vigils keep

‘Mongst boughs pavilioned where the Deer’s swift leap

Startles the wild Bee from the Fox-glove bell.

Ah! fain would I frequent such scenes with thee;

But the sweet converse of an innocent mind,

Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,

Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be

Almost the highest bliss of human kind,

When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.


A Fine Picture—Asher Durand’s painting portrays the American landscapist Thomas Cole with his friend, the American nature-poet William Cullen Bryant. The painting was commissioned by Jonathan Sturges in gratitude for Bryant’s eulogy to Thomas Cole, who had died suddenly in 1848.

A Little Poetry—“To Solitude” was published on May 5, 1816 under the initials J.K. It was Keats’s first published work, and, though the poem attracted little public attention at the time, Keats would give up his medical practice that year to pursue a literary career.

A similar sentiment is expressed in William Cowper’s previously featured quatrain that begins “I praise the Frenchman, his remark was shrewd.”

Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

Study from Nature: Rocks and Trees. Asher Brown Durand. 1836.


Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1889


Righteous art Thou, O Lord, when I complain to Thee, yet I would plead my case before Thee. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?—Jeremiah 12:1


Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend

With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just,

Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must

Disappointment all I endeavor end?

 Wert thou my enemy, O thou my freind,

How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost

Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust

Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,

Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes

Now, leavéd how thick! lacéd they are again

With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes

Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,

Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.

Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.


Hopkin’s poem is a translation and expansion of Jeremiah 12. Always prone to depression, the Jesuit priest and poet had come to feel that his life was wretched and that he had failed to accomplish anything lasting. The earliest manuscript of the poem is dated March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), 1889. Hopkins died of typhoid fever less than three months later. Today, he is recognized as a poet of enduring quality, the writer of such classics as “Spring and Fall,” “The Windhover,” “The Grandeur of God,” and “Pied Beauty.”

Psalm 23

The Beeches. Asher Durand. 1845.


Psalm 23

David (Scottish metrical version)


The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want:

He makes me down to lie

In pastures green; he leadeth me

The quiet waters by.


My soul he doth restore again,

And me to walk doth make

Within the paths of righteousness,

E’en for his own name’s sake.


Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,

Yet will I fear no ills,

For though art with me, and thy rod

And staff me comfort still.


My table thou hast furnished

In presence of my foes.

My head thou dost with oil anoint,

And my cup overflows.


Goodness and mercy all my life

Shall surely follow me,

And in thy house forevermore

My dwelling place shall be.