“Are we almost there? Are we almost there?”
said a dying girl as she drew near home.
“Are those our poplar trees that rear
their forms so high ‘gainst the heavens blue dome?”
Then she talked of her flowers and she thought of the wall
where the cool waters dashed over the large white stone.
And she thought it would soothe like a fairy spell
could she drink of that fount after her fever was o’er.
And oft did she ask “Are we almost there?”
Still her voice grew faint and her flushed cheek pale.
And they strove to soothe her with useless care
as her sighs escaped on the evening gale.
While yet so young and her bloom grew less
they had borne her far away to a kindlier time.
For she would not tell it was only distress,
that had gathered life’s roses in its sweet young time.
And she had looked where they bade her look
at many a ruin and many a shrine,
at the sculptured niche and the shady nook,
and watched from high places the ruins’ decline.
And in secret she sighed for a quaint spot
where she oft had played in childhood’s hour.
Though shrub or floweret marked it not,
it was dearer to her than the gayest bower.
They swiftly more swiftly they hurried her on.
But these anxious hearts felt a child despair.
For when the light of that eye was gone,
And the quick beats stopped, she was almost there.
(After the poem, my handwritten copy states, “Copied by Philena D. Baily, Lisbon, Iowa 1856” and “Susannah Z. Bassett, Linn Grove, Linn County, Iowa:” The notation after the poem states “ This piece is written about: A young lady who had visited the south for her health but finding that she hourly grew worse her friends hurried her home. On the journey she was very much exhausted and continually inquired, “Are we almost there?” She died just before reaching home. A friend who accompanied her wrote the song.” The poet friend was unidentified in this note.
I found the poem in a collection of my Aunt Delores Hart’s research. I believe my aunt copied it during her research in Linn County, Iowa while looking for her great-grandmother Elmeda Bassett’s genealogy. Elmeda had a sister named Susanna Zerna Bassett. Perhaps Susanna was the unidentified friend who wrote the poem. My copy contained fold lines and water stains. After sitting in a binder for years while we moved and moved, the writing is now difficult to read. Unfortunately, I waited too long to find it again. My dear aunt had died several years ago so I cannot ask her more about it.. Hopefully, I’ve appropriately preserved the anonymous friend’s sentiment in this typed copy.)