James Gates Percival (1795 – 1856) was an American poet, surgeon, and geologist, born in Berlin, Connecticut and died in Hazel Green, Wisconsin.
Percival had also a reputation as a geologist. Percival entered Yale College at the age of 16, and graduated at the age of 20 at the head of his class.
After graduating Percival was admitted to the practice of medicine and relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, where he pursued that profession.
A volume of Percival’s collected poems was published in New York and London in 1823.
In 1824 Percival was briefly a professor of chemistry at West Point, where he resigned after a few months, and subsequently several years of his labor were devoted to assisting Noah Webster in editing his great American Dictionary of the English Language of 1828.
In 1835 Percival was commissioned by the governor of Connecticut to prepare a geological survey of the state, which was completed and published in 1842.
In 1854 Percival was appointed to make a similar geological survey for the state of Wisconsin, with the title State Geologist.
The first annual report was issued in 1855, and while preparing the second annual report for the press he succumbed to illness and died in May 1856.
Most of Percival’s life was spent at his home in New Haven, Connecticut. After his death he was the subject of an admiring biography by Julius H. Ward.
Spring by James Gates Percival
Again the infant flowers of Spring
Call thee to sport on thy rainbow wing–
Spirit of Beauty! the air is bright
With the boundless flow of thy mellow light;
The woods are ready to bud and bloom,
And are weaving for Summer their quiet gloom;
The turfed brook reflects, as it flows,
The tips of the half-unopen’d rose,
And the early bird, as he carols free,
Sings to his little love, and thee.
See how the clouds, as they fleetly pass,
Throw their shadowy veil on the darkening grass;
And the pattering showers and stealing dews,
With their starry gems and skyey hues,
From the oozy meadow, that drinks the tide,
To the shelter’d vale on the mountain side,
Wake to a new and fresher birth
The tenderest tribes of teeming earth,
And scatter with light and dallying play
Their earliest flowers on the zephyr’s way.
He comes from the mountain’s piny steep,
For the long boughs bend with a silent sweep,
And his rapid steps have hurried o’er
The grassy hills to the pebbly shore;
And now, on the breast of the lonely lake,
The waves in silvery glances break,
Like a short and quickly rolling sea,
When the gale first feels its liberty,
And the flakes of foam, like coursers, run,
Rejoicing beneath the vertical sun.
He has cross’d the lake, and the forest heaves,
To the sway of his wings, its billowy leaves,
And the downy tufts of the meadow fly
In snowy clouds, as he passes by,
And softly beneath his noiseless tread
The odorous spring-grass bends its head;
And now he reaches the woven bower,
Where he meets his own beloved flower,
And gladly his wearied limbs repose,
In the shade of the newly-opening rose.
Bio Reference Attribution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gates_Percival
Image Attribution © Engraving of James Gates Percival from a painting by G.W. Flagg, (Engraver and Date Unstated)
Poem Attribution © Spring, James Gates Percival
Source Attribution https://allpoetry.com/poem/8567301-Spring-by-James-Gates-Percival
Painting Attribution © Olha Vyacheslavovna Darchuk, Spring, 2018
Source Attribution https://artist.com/olha-darchuk/spring-spring/?artid=9241
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