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Transcription Tuesday XIV: A placid lake, my gentle girl

Ariana Malthaner

The original poem this week was written for Jennie (sometimes, as here, Jeannie) Dyke. Unlike the other autograph books which are primarily filled with momentos and sentimental messages, Jennie’s book contains a number of poems and prose pieces that are full of advice. This particular poem, albeit somewhat hard to read in places, from a Mrs S. Hare gives gentle instruction on how to behave. This is potentially advice with regards to Jennie’s marriage, as many of the inscriptions mention her upcoming/recent nuptials, and her surname changes from Dyke to Fawkes in some messages.

To Jeannie

A placid lake, my gentle girl

Be emblem of thy life

As full of peace and family

As free from care and strife

So ripple on its transquil breast

That not with the day

So pebble in its darkest depth

Bad quivers in its ray

And see how every glorious form

And fragment of the skies

Reflected from its glassy face

A mirror of image lies

So be thy spirit ever force

To God and virtue given

And thought and word and action bear

The images of Heaven

Jan 9th 1861 Mrs S Hare


This poem is written by Rev. George Washington Doane in 1831 and titled ‘Lines by the Lake-Side’. Research has found the earliest publication that can be found is in the Staunton Spectator in Staunton Virginia on November 11, 1831.

Big thanks to Darrell Austin for providing us with this new information!