Felicia Dorothea Hemans

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

The Penitent's Return


My father's house once more,
In its own moonlight beauty! yet around,
Something, amidst the dewy calm profound,
Broods, never marked before!

Is it the brooding night?
Is it the shivery creeping on the air,
That makes the home, so tranquil and so fair,
O'erwhelming to my sight?

All solemnised it seems,
And still'd, and darkness in each time-worn hue,
Since the rich clustering roses met my view,
As now, by starry gleams.

And this high elm, where last
I stood and linger'd - where my sisters made
Our mother's bower, - I deem'd not that it cast
So far and dark a shade!

How spirit-like a tone
Sighs through yon tree! my father's place was there
At evening hours, while soft winds waved his hair!
Now those gray locks are gone!

My soul grows faint with fear!
E'en as if angel-steps had mark'd the sod,
I tremble where I move,-the voice of God
Is in the foliage here!

Is it indeed the night
That makes my home so awful! faithless hearted,
'Tis that from thine own bosom hath departed
The in-born gladdening light!

No outward thing is changed;
Only the joy of purity is fled,
And, long from nature's melodious estranged,
Thou hear'st their tones with dread.

Therefore, the calm abode
By the dark spirit is o'erhung with shade,-
And therefore, in the leaves, the voice of God
Makes thy sick heart afraid!

The night-flowers round that door,
Still breathe pure fragrance on th' untainted air,
Thou, thou alone, art worthy now no more
To pass and rest thee there!

And must I turn away?
Hark, hark! it is my mother's voice I hear,
Sadder than once it seem'd, yet soft and clear -
Doth she not seem to pray?

My name!-I caught the sound!
Oh! blessed tone of love - the deep, the mild,-
Mother, my mother! now receive thy child;
Take back the lost and found.

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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