Treasure Island

Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney

(1791-1865 / the United States)

Eve


FOR the first time, a lovely scene
Earth saw, and smiled,--
A gentle form with pallid mien
Bending o'er a newborn child:
The pang, the anguish, and the wo
That speech hath never told,
Fled, as the sun with noontide glow
Dissolves the snow-wreath cold,
Leaving the bliss that none but mothers know;
While he, the partner of her heaven-taught joy,
Knelt in adoring praise beside his beauteous boy.

She, first of all our mortal race,
Learn'd the ecstasy to trace
The expanding form of infant grace
From her own life-spring fed;
To mark, each radiant hour,
Heaven's sculpture still more perfect growing,
More full of power;

The little foot's elastic tread,
The rounded cheek, like rose-bud glowing,
The fringed eye with gladness flowing,
As the pure, blue fountains roll;
And then those lisping sounds to hear,
Unfolding to her thrilling ear
The strange, mysterious, never-dying soul,
And with delight intense
To watch the angel-smile of sleeping innocence.

No more she mourn'd lost Eden's joy,
Or wept her cherish'd flowers,
In their primeval bowers
By wrecking tempests riven;
The thorn and thistle of the exile's lot
She heeded not,
So all-absorbing was her sweet employ
To rear the incipient man,* the gift her God had given.

And when his boyhood bold
A richer beauty caught,
Her kindling glance of pleasure told
The incense of her idol-thought:
Not for the born of clay
Is pride's exulting thrill,
Dark herald of the downward way,
And ominous of ill.
Even his cradled brother's smile
The haughty first-born jealously survey'd,
And envy mark'd the brow with hate and guile,
In God's own image made.

At the still twilight hour,
When saddest images have power,
Musing Eve her fears exprest:--
'He loves me not; no more with fondness free
His clear eye looks on me;
Dark passions rankle there, and moody hate
Predicts some adverse fate.
Ah! is this be, whose waking eye,
Whose faint, imploring cry,
With new and unimagined rapture blest ?
Alas! alas! the throes his life that bought,
Were naught to this wild agony of thought
That racks my boding breast.'

So mourn'd our mother, in her secret heart
With presage all too true;
And often from the midnight dream would start,
Her forehead bathed in dew;
But say, what harp shall dare,
Unless by hand immortal strung,
What pencil touch the hue,
Of that intense despair Her inmost soul that wrung !
For Cain was wroth, and in the pastures green,
Where Abel led his flock, mid waters cool and sheen,
With fratricidal hand, that blameless shepherd slew

Earth learn'd strong lessons in her morning prime,
More strange than Chaos taught,
When o'er contending elements the darkest veil was wrought;
The poison of the tempter's glozing tongue,
Man's disobedience and expulsion dire,
The terror of the sword of fire
At Eden's portal hung,
Inferior creatures filled with savage hate,
No more at peace, no more subordinate;
Man's birth in agony, man's death by crime,
The taste of life-blood, brother-spilt;
But that red stain of guilt
Sent through her inmost heart such sickening pain,
That in her path o'er ether's plain
She hid her head and mourn'd, amid the planet-train.

Submitted: Saturday, September 25, 2010

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