Felicia Dorothea Hemans
Evening Prayer at a Girl's School
HUSH! 'tis a holy hour-the quiet room
Seems like a temple, while yon soft lamp sheds
A faint and starry radiance, through the gloom
And the sweet stillness, down on fair young heads,
With all their clustering locks, untouch'd by care,
And bow'd, as flowers are bow'd with night, in prayer.
Gaze on-'tis lovely!-Childhood's lip and cheek,
Mantling beneath its earnest brow of thought-
Gaze-yet what seest thou in those fair, and meek,
And fragile things, as but for sunshine wrought?-
Thou seest what grief must nurture for the sky,
What death must fashion for eternity!
O! joyous creatures! that will sink to rest,
Lightly, when those pure orisons are done,
As birds, with slumber's honey-dew opprest,
'Midst the dim folded leaves, at set of sun-
Life up your hearts! though yet no sorrow lies
Dark in the summer-heaven of those clear eyes.
Though fresh within your breasts the untroubled springs
Of hope make melody where'er ye tread,
And o'er your sleep bright shadows, from the wings
Of spirits visiting but youth, be spread;
Yet in those flute-like voices, mingling low,
Is woman's tenderness-how soon her woe!
Her lot is on you-silent tears to weep,
And patient smiles to wear through suffering's hour,
And sumless riches, from affection's deep,
To pour on broken reeds-a wasted shower!
And to make idols, and to find them clay,
And to bewail that worship-therefore pray!
Her lot is on you-to be found untired,
Watching the stars out by the bed of pain,
With a pale cheek, and yet a brow inspired,
And a true heart of hope, though hope be vain;
Meekly to bear with wrong, to cheer decay,
And oh! to love through all things-therefore pray!
And take the thought of this calm vesper time,
With its low murmuring sounds and silvery light,
On through the dark days fading from their prime,
As a sweet dew to keep your souls from blight!
Earth will forsake-O! happy to have given
The unbroken heart's first fragrance unto Heaven.
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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