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The Magnet and the Iron: John Brown and George L. Stearns The Stories Behind the Busts

Herman Melville

Herman Melville was a writer and poet from New York City. In 1859, he wrote the poem "The Portent," which connected John Brown with the meteor shower of 1859-60, It reads,

Hanging from the beam,

Slowly swaying (such the law),

Gaunt the shadow on your green,


The cut is on the crown

(Lo, John Brown),

And the stabs shall heal no more.

Hidden in the cap

Is the anguish none can draw;

So your future veils its face,


But the streaming beard is shown

(Weird John Brown),

The meteor of the war!