Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

The Crusader's Return


Rest pilgrim, rest!-thou'rt from the Syrian land,
Thou'rt from the wild and wondrous east, I know
By the long-withered palm-branch in thy hand,
And by the darkness of thy sunburnt brow.
Alas! the bright, the beautiful, who part,
So full of hope, for that far country's bourne!
Alas! the weary and the chang'd in heart,
And dimm'd in aspect, who like thee return!

Thou'rt faint-stay, rest thee from thy toils at last,
Through the high chesnuts lightly plays the breeze,
The stars gleam out, the Ave hour is pass'd,
The sailor's hymn hath died along the seas.
Thou 'rt faint and worn-hear'st thou the fountain welling
By the grey pillars of yon ruin'd shrine?
Seest thou the dewy grapes, before thee swelling?
-He that hath left me train'd that loaded vine!

He was a child when thus the bower he wove,
(Oh! hath a day fled since his childhood's time?)
That I might sit and hear the sound I love,
Beneath its shade-the convent's vesper-chime.
And sit thou there!-for he was gentle ever;
With his glad voice he would have welcomed thee,
And brought fresh fruits to cool thy parch'd lips' fever-
-There in his place thou 'rt resting-where is he?

If I could hear that laughing voice again,
But once again!-how oft it wanders by,
In the still hours, like some remember'd strain,
Troubling the heart with its wild melody!
-Thou hast seen much, tired pilgrim! hast thou seen
In that far land, the chosen land of yore,
A youth-my Guido-with the fiery mien,
And the dark eye of this Italian shore?

The dark, clear, lightning eye!-on Heaven and earth
It smiled-as if man were not dust-it smiled!
The very air seem'd kindling with his mirth,
And I-my heart grew young before my child!
My blessed child!-I had but him-yet he
Fill'd all my home ev'n with o'erflowing joy,
Sweet laughter, and wild song, and footstep free-
-Where is he now?-my pride, my flower, my boy!

His sunny childhood melted from my sight,
Like a spring dew-drop-then his forehead wore
A prouder look-his eye a keener light-
-I knew these woods might be his world no more!
He loved me-but he left me!-thus they go,
Whom we have rear'd, watch'd, bless'd, too much adored!
He heard the trumpet of the red-cross blow,
And bounded from me, with his father's sword!

Thou weep'st-I tremble-thou hast seen the slain
Pressing a bloody turf; the young and fair,
With their pale beauty strewing o'er the plain
Where hosts have met-speak! answer!-was he there?
Oh! hath his smile departed?-Could the grave
Shut o'er those bursts of bright and tameless glee?
-No! I shall yet behold his dark locks wave-
That look gives hope-I knew it could not be!

Still weep'st thou, wanderer?-some fond mother's glance
O'er thee too brooded in thine early years-
Think'st thou of her, whose gentle eye, perchance,
Bath'd all thy faded hair with parting tears?
Speak, for thy tears disturb me!-what art thou?
Why dost thou hide thy face, yet weeping on?
Look up!-oh! is it-that wan cheek and brow!-
Is it-alas! yet joy!-my son, my son!

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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