Letitia Elizabeth Landon

(1802-1838 / England)

To Olinthus Gregory, On Hearing Of The Death Of His Eldest Son, Who Was Drowned As He Was Returning By Water To His Father’s House At Woolrich

IS there a spot where Pity's foot,
Although unsandalled, fears to tread,
A silence where her voice is mute,
Where tears, and only tears, are shed?
It is the desolated home
Where Hope was yet a recent guest,
Where Hope again may never come,
Or come, and only speak of rest.

They gave my hand the pictured scroll,
And bade me only fancy there
A parent's agony of soul,
A parent's long and last despair;
The sunshine on the sudden wave,
Which closed above the youthful head,
Mocking the green and quiet grave,
Which waits the time-appointed dead.

I thought upon the lone fire-side,
Begirt with all familiar thought,
The future, where a father's pride
So much from present promise wrought:
The sweet anxiety of fears,
Anxious from love's excess alone,
The fond reliance upon years
More precious to us than our own:

All past—then weeping words there came
From out a still and darkened room,
They could not bear to name a name
Written so newly on the tomb.
They said he was so good and kind,
The voices sank, the eyes grew dim;
So much of love he left behind,
So much of life had died with him.

Ah, pity for the long beloved,
Ah, pity for the early dead;
The young, the promising, removed
Ere life a light or leaf had shed.
Nay, rather pity those whose doom
It is to wait and weep behind,
The father, who within the tomb
Sees all life held most dear enshrined.

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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