The Seasons Moralized
They who to warmer regions run,
May bless the favour of the sun,
But seek in vain what charms us here,
Life’s picture, varying with the year.
Spring, and her wanton train advance
Like Youth to lead the festive dance,
All, all her scenes are mirth and play,
And blushing blossoms own her sway.
The Summer next (those blossoms blown)
Brings on the fruits that spring had sown,
Thus men advance, impelled by time,
And Nature triumphs in her prime.
Then Autumn crowns the beauteous year,
The groves a sicklier aspect wear;
And mournful she (the lot of all)
Matures her fruits, to make them fall.
Clad in the vestments of a tomb,
Old age is only Winter’s gloom—
Winter, alas! shall spring restore,
But youth returns to man no more.
First published in Bailey’s Pocket Almanac for 1785.
Born in New York City and raised in Monmouth Country, New Jersey, Philip Morin Freneau graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1771; at the college commencement, his friend Hugh Henry Breckenridge read The Rising Glory of America, a poem on which the two had collaborated. While working for a short time as a schoolteacher in Long Island, Freneau published anti-British satirical verses. He spent two years as secretary to a planter on St. Croix. Having volunteered for military service in 1778, he was captured by a British man-of-war in the Caribbean and imprisoned, later recounting his ordeal in The British Prison-Ship (1781).
During the 1780s, Freneau worked as a postal clerk in Philadelphia; from 1784 to 1790, he captained a merchant ship in the Caribbean. He published The Poems of Philip Freneau, Written Chiefly dying the Late War in 1786, and The Miscellaneous Works of Mr. Philip Freneau in 1788. Settling briefly in Middleton Point, New Jersey, where he married, in 1791 Freneau was offered a government clerkship by Thomas Jefferson and moved to Philadelphia where he founded and edited the anti-Federalist National Gazette. George Washington referred to him as “that rascal Freneau.”
Returning to New Jersey in 1793 after Jefferson lost his position as secretary of state, Freneau edited small New York and New Jersey newspapers and until 1804 occasionally worked as a caption of merchant vessels. His Poems Written between the Years 1768 & 1794 was published in 1795; Poems Written and Published during the American Revolutionary War appears in 1809.
Date Published: 1785-02-02
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/seasons-moralized