Nonfiction Poem Recounts Tragic Deaths in Early America

The following is taken from an article called “Sixty Years Ago, Recollections of New England Country Life” from my copy of “New England Magazine” published in March 1892 and is a record, in poetry form, of a real event that took place in the mid 1800s.

“…the great cooperation work was the raising of buildings.  After the timbers were prepared, the number of men necessary were notified, and during the afternoon, under the direction of the carpenter, were put in place, and the skeleton prepared for its covering.  An especially appetizing supper was provided, and in some cases the too liberal distribution of liquor during the work endangered the building and the builders.  This was thought to be the cause of a tragedy in Wilton, which was duly recorded in the poetry of those days, and which exhibits a curious mingling of old-time theology and quaint lamentations:

‘All on a sudden, a beam broke,
And let down fifty-three;
Full twenty-seven feet they fell,
A mournful sight to see.

‘Some lay with broken shoulder bones,
And some with broken arms,
Others with broken legs and thighs
And divers other harms.

‘One instantaneously was killed;
His soul has taken flight
To mansions of eternal day
Or everlasting night.

‘Two more in a short time did pass
Thro’ death’s dark shady vale,
Which now are in the realms of joy
Or the infernal hell.

Two more in  a few minutes’ space
Did bid this world adieu,
Who are rejected of their God
Or with his chosen few.”

I was able to find one online source that lists the entire poem (42 stanzas) as it appeared in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register in 1868.  However, the introductory paragraph from the New England Magazine source shown here on the A Bunch of Wordz site is not published elsewhere on the internet as of the date of this posting (at least not that I could find). 

It’s interesting to note the mention of alcohol as a probable cause in the New England Magazine, whereas the cause is implied to be something more supernatural in the earlier publication. 

The author is not credited in my magazine that I can see but is sited in the Register as being Nathaniel Allen.

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