George Crabbe

(24 December 1754 - 3 February 1832 / Aldeburgh, Suffulk)

The Mother's Funeral


Then died, lamented, in the strength of life,
A valued mother, and a faithful wife:
Call'd not away, when time had loosed each hold
On the fond heart, and each desire grew cold;
But when, to all that knit us to our kind,
She felt fast bound, as charity can bind; -
Not when the ills of age, its pain, its care,
The drooping spirit for its fate prepare;
And, each affection failing, leaves the heart
Loosed from life's charm, and willing to depart; -
But all her ties the strong invader broke,
In all their strength, by on tremendous stroke!
Sudden and swift the eager pest came on,
And terror grew, till every hope was gone;
Still those around appear'd for hope to seek:
But view'd the sick, and were afraid to speak.

Slowly they bore, with solemn step, the dead;
When grief grew loud, and bitter tears were shed,
My part began: a crowd drew near the place,
Awe in each eye, alarm in every face;
So swift the ill, and of so fierce a kind,
That fear with pity mingled in each mind;
Friends with the husband came, their griefs to blend;
For good-man Frankford was to all a friend.
The last-born boy they held above the bier;
He knew not grief, but cries express'd his fear;
Each different age and sex reveal'd its pain,
In now a louder, now a lower strain!
While the meek father, listening to their tones,
Swell'd the full cadence of the grief by groans.

The elder sister strove her pangs to hide,
And soothing words to younger minds applied:
'Be still, be patient;' oft she strove to say,
But fail'd as oft, and weeping turn'd away.

Curious and sad, upon the fresh-dug hill,
The village lads stood melancholy still;
And idle children, wandering to and fro,
As nature guided, took the tone of woe.

Arrived at home, how then they gazed around,
In every place - where she - no more was found: -
The seat at table she was wont to fill;
The fireside chair, still set, but vacant still;
The garden-walks, a labour all her own;
The latticed bower, with trailing shrubs o'ergrown;
The Sunday pew she fill'd with all her race, -
Each place of hers was now a sacred place:
That, while it call'd up sorrows in the eyes,
Pierced the full heart, and forced them still to rise.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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