Felicia Dorothea Hemans

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

The Spanish Chapel


I made a mountain-brook my guide
Thro' a wild Spanish glen,
And wandered, on its grassy side,
Far from the homes of men.

It lured me with a singing tone,
And many a sunny glance,
To a green spot of beauty lone,
A haunt for old romance.

A dim and deeply-bosom'd grove
Of many an aged tree,
Such as the shadowy violets love,
The fawn and forest-bee.

The darkness of the chestnut bough
There on the waters lay,
The bright stream reverently below,
Check'd its exulting play;

And bore a music all subdued,
And led a silvery sheen,
On thro' the breathing solitude
Of that rich leafy scene.

For something viewlessly around
Of solemn influence dwelt,
In the soft gloom and whispery sound,
Not to be told, but felt;

While sending forth a quiet gleam
Across the wood's repose,
And o'er the twilight of the stream,
A lowly chapel rose.

A pathway to that still retreat
Thro' many a myrtle wound,
And there a sight–how strangely sweet!
My steps in wonder bound.

For on a brilliant bed of flowers,
Even at the threshold made,
As if to sleep thro' sultry hours,
A young fair child was laid.

To sleep?–oh! ne'er on childhood's eye,
And silken lashes press'd,
Did the warm living slumber lie,
With such a weight of rest!

Yet still a tender crimson glow
Its cheek's pure marble dyed–
'Twas but the light's faint streaming flow
Thro' roses heap'd beside.

I stoop'd–the smooth round arm was chill,
The soft lip's breath was fled,
And the bright ringlets hung so still–
The lovely child was dead!

'Alas!' I cried, 'fair faded thing!
Thou hast wrung bitter tears,
And thou hast left a wo, to cling
Round yearning hearts for years!'

But then a voice came sweet and low–
I turn'd, and near me sate
A woman with a mourner's brow,
Pale, yet not desolate.

And in her still, clear, matron face,
All solemnly serene,
A shadow'd image I could trace
Of that young slumberer's mien.

'Stranger! thou pitiest me,' she said,
With lips that faintly smil'd,
'As here I watch beside my dead,
My fair and precious child.

'But know, the time-worn heart may be
By pangs in this world riven,
Keener than theirs who yield, like me,
An angel thus to Heaven!'

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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