James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 6

Fitz James O’Brien

By Andrew E. Watrous (d. 1902)

  • Fitz James O’Brien was born in Ireland, but spent the latter part of his life in this country. He wrote stories something after the manner of Edgar Poe. He enlisted in the army, was wounded in battle, and died on April 6, 1862.

  • THIS was our poet—one who strode

    These streets in ante-bellum ages,

    And smoked on street-car steps, and rode

    Down Broadway on the tops of stages.

    A Dublin gownsman, London rake,

    For grim romance, pathetic ditty;

    No color from ’cross seas he’d take,

    But loved, and learned, and wrote our city.

    ’Twas here he sowed each splendid crop

    Of fecund wind—here did he reap

    Fine whirlwinds. From the base or top

    His path was lighter, being steep.

    He swayed the sceptre, felt the lash,

    Wrought starving nights—by sated days

    Petted his trooper’s brown moustache,

    And sought and strolled life’s sunny ways.

    From here he sallied forth to crown

    A flaring life with flaming death.

    God rest him! There outside the town

    He waits the Doomsday trumpet’s breath.

    Poor Fitz! they say—yet when I’m dead

    I’ll ask no pity, if a line

    Of all I’ve writ in some one’s head

    Shall run as some of his in mine.