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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

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

The Memorial Pillar


Hast thou thro' Eden's wild-wood vales, pursued
Each mountain-scene, magnificently rude,
Nor with attention's lifted eye, revered
That modest stone, by pious Pembroke rear'd,
Which still records, beyond the pencil's power,
The silent sorrows of a parting hour? ~ ROGERS.

Mother and child! whose blending tears
Have sanctified the place,
Where, to the love of many years,
Was given one last embrace;
Oh! ye have shrin'd a spell of power,
Deep in your record of that hour!

A spell to waken solemn thought,
A still, small under-tone,
That calls back days of childhood, fraught
With many a treasure gone;
And smites, perchance, the hidden source,
Tho' long untroubled–of remorse.

For who, that gazes on the stone
Which marks your parting spot,
Who but a mother's love hath known,
The one love changing not?
Alas! and haply learn'd its worth
First with the sound of 'Earth to earth?'

But thou, high-hearted daughter! thou,
O'er whose bright honour'd head,
Blessings and tears of holiest flow,
Ev'n here were fondly shed,–
Thou from the passion of thy grief,
In its full burst, couldst draw relief.

For, oh! tho' painful be th' excess,
The might wherewith it swells,
In nature's fount no bitterness
Of nature's mingling, dwells;
And thou hadst not, by wrong or pride,
Poison'd the free and healthful tide.

But didst thou meet the face no more
Which thy young heart first knew?
And all–was all in this world o'er,
With ties thus close and true?
It was!–On earth no other eye
Could give thee back thine infancy.

No other voice could pierce the maze
Where, deep within thy breast,
The sounds and dreams of other days
With memory lay at rest;
No other smile to thee could bring
A gladd'ning, like the breath of spring.

Yet, while thy place of weeping still
Its lone memorial keeps,
While on thy name, midst wood and hill,
The quiet sunshine sleeps,
And touches, in each graven line,
Of reverential thought a sign;

Can I, while yet these tokens wear
The impress of the dead,
Think of the love embodied there,
As of a vision fled?
A perish'd thing, the joy and flower
And glory of one earthly hour?

Not so!–I will not bow me so,
To thoughts that breathe despair!
A loftier faith we need below,
Life's farewell words to bear.
Mother and child!–Your tears are past–
Surely your hearts have met at last.

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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