Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

Cousin Robert - Poem by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

O COUSIN Robert, far away
Among the lands of gold,
How many years since we two met?--
You would not like it told.

O cousin Robert, buried deep
Amid your bags of gold--
I thought I saw you yesternight
Just as you were of old.

You own whole leagues--I half a rood
Behind my cottage door;
You have your lacs of gold rupees,
And I my children four;

Your tall barques dot the dangerous seas,
My 'ship's come home'--to rest
Safe anchored from the storms of life
Upon one faithful breast.

And it would cause no start or sigh,
Nor thought of doubt or blame,
If I should teach our little son
His cousin Robert's name.--

That name, however wide it rings,
I oft think, when alone,
I rather would have seen it graved
Upon a churchyard stone--

Upon the white sunshining stone
Where cousin Alick lies:
Ah, sometimes, woe to him that lives!
Happy is he that dies!

O Robert, Robert, many a tear--
Though not the tears of old--
Drops, thinking of your face last night
Your hand's remembered fold;

A young man's face, so like, so like
Our mothers' faces fair:
A young man's hand, so firm to clasp,
So resolute to dare.

I thought you good--I wished you great;
You were my hope, my pride:
To know you good, to make you great
I once had happy died.

To tear the plague-spot from your heart,
Place honor on your brow,
See old age come in crownèd peace--
I almost would die now!

Would give--all that's now mine to give--
To have you sitting there,
The cousin Robert of my youth--
Though beggar'd, with gray hair.

O Robert, Robert, some that live
Are dead, long ere they are old;
Better the pure heart of our youth
Than palaces of gold;

Better the blind faith of our youth
Than doubt, which all truth braves;
Better to mourn, God's children dear,
Than laugh, the Devil's slaves.

O Robert, Robert, life is sweet,
And love is boundless gain:
Yet if I mind of you, my heart
Is stabbed with sudden pain:

And as in peace this Christmas eve
I close our quiet doors,
And kiss 'good-night' on sleeping heads--
Such bonnie curls,--like yours:

I fall upon my bended knees
With sobs that choke each word;--
'On those who err and are deceived
Have mercy, O good Lord!'

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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