Felicia Dorothea Hemans

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

The Effigies


Warrior! whose image on thy tomb,
With shield and crested head,
Sleeps proudly in the purple gloom
By the stain'd window shed;
The records of thy name and race
Have faded from the stone,
Yet, through a cloud of years, I trace
What thou hast been and done.

A banner, from its flashing spear,
Flung out o'er many a fight;
A war-cry ringing far and clear,
And strong to turn the flight;
An arm that bravely bore the lance
On for the holy shrine;
A haughty heart and a kingly glance–
Chief! were not these things thine?

A lofty place where leaders sate
Around the council-board;
In festive halls a chair of state
When the blood-red wine was pour'd;
A name that drew a prouder tone
From herald, harp, and bard;–
Surely these things were all thine own,–
So hadst thou thy reward.

Woman! whose sculptur'd form at rest
By the armed knight is laid,
With meek hands folded o'er a breast
In matron robes array'd;
What was thy tale?–Oh! gentle mate
Of him, the bold and free,
Bound unto his victorious fate,
What bard hath sung of thee?

He woo'd a bright and burning star–
Thine was the void, the gloom,
The straining eye that follow'd far
His fast-receding plume;
The heart-sick listening while his steed
Sent echoes on the breeze;
The pang–but when did Fame take heed
Of griefs obscure as these?

Thy silent and secluded hours
Thro' many a lonely day,
While bending o'er thy broider'd flowers,
With spirit far away;
Thy weeping midnight prayers for him
Who fought on Syrian plains,
Thy watchings till the torch grew dim–
These fill no minstrel strains.

A still, sad life was thine!–long years
With tasks unguerdon'd fraught,
Deep, quiet love, submissive tears,
Vigils of anxious thought;
Prayer at the cross in fervour pour'd,
Alms to the pilgrim given–
Oh! happy, happier than thy lord,
In that lone path to heaven!

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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