Friday, January 01, 2010

January 4: James Nack (1809-1879)

Poet James M. Nack was born 4 January 1809, and wrote a poem for New Year's Day for his daughter Eveline:

A New-Year's Greeting to my Daughter (1859)

So it is gone! -- another year!
A drop of time lost in the sea
Of dark and deep eternity,
In which we all must disappear!
Well, since so transient our career,
The blessings that attend the way
More precious grow with every day:
So is it with my EVELINE,
And ever was since she was mine;
Since first she nestled on my breast,
And on its beatings rocked to rest;
And when her little arms at length
To twine around me gathered strength,
And her young eyes replied to mine
With love's intelligence divine;
When first her lips began to frame
Sweet murmurings of a father's name;
Or with more eloquence of love
Those rosy lips to mine were prest--
Oh, closer still I clasped my dove,
And could have died so very blest!

Nack, a lifelong New Yorker, was deaf after a serious head injury when he was nine years old. He was among the first successful alumni of the New York Deaf and Dumb Asylum, which he attended from 1818 to 1823. He worked in the office of the Clerk of the City of New York for many years, and frequently contributed poems to the New York Mirror. He published several volumes of verse, starting with The Legend of the Rocks and Other Pieces (1827). Much of his poetry celebrates his happiness in family life--he married in 1838 and was the father of three daughters (including Eveline, above). Nack also did translations from French, German, and Dutch. Several books of Nack's poetry are available in Full view on Google Books (The Romance of the Ring, Earl Rupert, and The Immortal, for three).

For further reading, see:

Christopher Krentz, ed., A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing 1816-1864 (Gallaudet University Press 2000).

John Lee Clark, ed., Deaf American Poetry: An Anthology (Gallaudet University Press 2009).

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