Countless eyes of brightness

I had never heard of Samuel Griswold Goodrich until I came across this sonnet; the title made me think of stories I read when I was little, of brave heroes (usually aged fourteen!) going off in search of the mysterious Ultima Thule.

He was born in 1793 in Connecticut, and used the pen-name Peter Parley; I am intrigues to know why he chose that name – apparently other writers, mostly British I believe, also used the same non-de-plume. He wrote, co-wrote and edited a tremendous number of works, mostly non-fiction and children’s books, and also published magazines,  and made his fortune.

In ‘Peter Parley’s Illustrations of Commerce’ he defines a whole range of different items and goods which could be sold and traded, including beer!

Beer: a common and well-known liquor, extracted principally from malt. Of barley, there are now about thirty million bushels annually converted into malt in Great Britain; and more than eight million barrels of beer, of which four fifths are strong beer. The manufacture of beer is likewise extensive in the United Stated.

Here is his sonnet:

Ultima Thule

The blue heaven spreads before me with its keen
And countless eyes of brightness,–worlds are there,–
The boldest spirit cannot spring, and dare
The peopled universe that burns between
This earth and nothing. Thought can wing its way
Swifter than lightning-flashes, or the beam
That hastens on the pinions of the morn;
But, quicker than the glowing dart of day,
It tires and faints along the starry stream,–
A wave of suns through countless ether borne,
Though infinite, eternal! yet one power
Sits on the Almighty Center, whither tend
All worlds and beings from time’s natal hour,
Till suns and all their satellites shall end.

Samuel Griswold Goodrich


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