A Valentine from the Bard of Butte

Our very own Bard of Butte, poet Pres Longley, penned this valentine one hundred and sixty years ago. It appeared in the Weekly Butte Record on February 28, 1863, and undoubtedly touched many a lonely miner’s heart.

Lines to Etna -- A Valentine

She knows not, she dreams not, how fondly I love,
  For that feeling I cannot express;
Tho' with all the charmed magic of language I strove,
  I would fail in the utmost distress!

I tried not, I cared not, to love her at first,
  But her sweet sunny smile warmed my heart
And made it expand till I thought it would burst,
  As I saw each bright vision depart.

With rapture I've gazed in her pure, sweet blue eyes,--
  So charmed and entranced, that the tears,
Unbidden, would spring in my own with surprise,
  And I wished that those moments were years.

I'd freely renounce all the earth's boasted fame,
  That ambition so proudly admires,
To gain her dear love, which would make me more blest
  Than the prize to which genius aspires.

To love one so gentle, so good and so kind,
  Can not be accounted a wrong;
Then, as long as I live, she shall dwell in my mind
  And breathe in the soul of my song!

But I cannot be near her,-- I'll see her no more,--
  My absence she never will heed:--
In the deep shady gulch I'll be digging the ore,
  And trying to follow the lead.    ALP
Nimshew, Feb. 14, 1863

Who Etna was we do not know, but ALP was his pen name, a rearrangement of the initials of his name, Alexander Preston Longley. Happy Valentine’s Day, Pres!

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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