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(11 September 1700 – 27 August 1748 / Ednam in Roxburghshire, Scotland)

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On The Death Of His Mother

Ye fabled Muses, I your aid disclaim,
Your airy raptures, and your fancied flame;
True genuine woe my throbbing breast inspires,
Love prompts my lays, and filial duty fires;
My soul springs instant at the warm design,
And the heart dictates every flowing line.
See! where the kindest, best of mothers lies,
And death has closed her ever watching eyes;
Has lodged at last in peace her weary breast,
And lulled her many piercing cares to rest.
No more the orphan train around her stands,
While her full heart upbraids her needy hands!
No more the widow's lonely fate she feels,
The shock severe that modest want conceals,
The oppressor's scourge, the scorn of wealthy pride,
And poverty's unnumbered ills beside.
For see! attended by the angelic throng,
Through yonder worlds of light she glides along,
And claims the well earned raptures of the sky:
Yet fond concern recalls the mother's eye;
She seeks the helpless orphans left behind;
So hardly left! so bitterly resigned!
Still, still! is she my soul's diurnal theme,
The waking vision, and the wailing dream:
Amid the ruddy sun's enlivening blaze
O'er my dark eyes her dewy image plays,
And in the dread dominion of the night
Shines out again the sadly pleasing sight.
Triumphant virtue all around her darts,
And more than volumes every look imparts -
Looks, soft, yet awful; melting, yet serene;
Where both the mother and the saint are seen.
But ah! that night - that torturing night remains;
May darkness dye it with the deepest stains,
May joy on it forsake her rosy bowers,
And streaming sorrow blast its baleful hours,
When on the margin of the briny flood,
Chilld with a sad presaging damp I stood,
Took the last look, ne'er to behold her more,
And mixed our murmurs with the wavy roar;
Heard the last words fall from her pious tongue,
Then, wild into the bulging vessel flung,
Which soon, too soon, conveyed me from her sight,
Dearer than life, and liberty, and light!
Why was I then, ye powers, reserved for this?
Nor sunk that moment in the vast abyss?
Devoured at once by the relentless wave,
And whelmed for ever in a watery grave? -
Down, ye wild wishes of unruly woe! -
I see her with immortal beauty glow;
The early wrinkle, care-contracted, gone,
Her tears all wiped, and all her sorrows flown;
The exalting voice of Heaven I hear her breathe,
To soothe her soul in agonies of death.
I see her through the mansions blessed above,
And now she meets her dear expecting love.
Heart-cheering sight! but yet, alas! o'erspread
By the dark gloom of Grief's uncheerful shade.
Come then, of reason the reflecting hour,
And let me trust the kind o'erruling Power,
Who from the night commands the shining day,
The poor man's portion and the orphan's stay.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010


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