The Song At Maria’s Grave Poem by Anne Hunter

The Song At Maria’s Grave

COME, gentle maidens, gather round.
Bring sprigs of rosemary and rue,
Strew virgin lilies on the ground,
And the wild rose embalm'd in dew.
Emblem of hope, upon the thorn
Their transient beauties bloom and die,

While yet their sweets perfume the morn,
They on Maria's grave shall lie.
For she was fair, as fairest flower,
And gentle as the breath of peace;
But now her charms exist no more,
And soon their memory shall cease.
I raise the song, a name so dear
From cold oblivion's power to save;
Come, gentle maidens, round, and hear
The mournful story at her grave.
Methinks I see her on the beach,
Her eyes still fixed upon the sea;
Her thoughts beyond the ocean reach.
O Henry, they were fix'd on thee.
Above her sex's little arts,
Their feign'd contempt, or proud disdain,
She own'd the sympathy of hearts,
She lov'd, and was belov'd again.

But glory's voice young Henry heard,
Fortune and honours wait the brave;
The youth Maria's heart preferr'd,
Resolv'd to dare the hostile wave.
Dauntless to seek his country's foes,
And bravely guard her injur'd rights,
Warm from the heart his courage flows,
For love and honour Henry fights.
But who can paint the anxious days,
The ling'ring, long, and heavy hours,
The silent tears affection pays,
The sad forebodings love endures?
The rushing winds at dead of night,
Which shake her casements slender frame,
Disturbs her rest with wild affright,
For evils yet without a name.
In dismal dreams they meet again,
Again she hears his parting sighs;

The sails are spread, he skims the main,
And far the bounding vessel flies.
She wakes, and to the sounding shore
At early dawn her steps would move,
Counting the days of absence o'er;
How slow their pace appears to love!
I see her standing on the beach,
Her eyes still fix'd upon the sea;
Her thoughts beyond the ocean reach;
O, Henry, they were fix'd on thee!
Long absent on the wat'ry waste,
In Britain's cause his sword he drew;
And vanquish'd foes his fame increas'd,
While with his fame his fortune grew.
Nor glory's pride, nor fiercest war,
Maria from his thoughts could part;
Though absent long, and distant far,
She still was nearest to his heart.

From ev'ry port, with anxious care,
His kind attentive fondness wrote;
His love would still some gift prepare,
As witness to his constant thought.
The last remembrance she receiv'd
Her cheek with rosy blushes spread;
A trembling hope her soul deceiv'd,
While these soft words she fault'ring read.
' To thee, Maria, thee alone,
Each tender thought delights to fly,
This constant heart is all thy own.
For thee I live, for thee could die.
' For thy dear sake I still pursue
Unceasing toils, and think them sweet;
For now the time appears in view,
When we again in joy shall meet.
' Fly fast, ye hours! with winged haste,
Propitious gales, come waft me o'er!

Swift let me cross the wat'ry waste,
To meet my love! and part no more!'

I saw Maria on the beach,
Her eyes were fix'd upon the sea;
Her thoughts beyond the waters reach,
O, Henry! she expected thee!
Expected thee, her hand to claim,
Thy faithful passion's sacred right;
Hope saw thee crown'd with wealth and fame,
And love exulted in the sight.
Gay, flatt'ring hope! how bright you seem,
Gilding some joy beyond the hour!
A painted cloud, a fairy dream,
A rainbow in a summer's shower.
Sudden distracting terrors rise,
Unthought-of ills their hopes assail;

A dark and dreadful rumour flies,
And time confirms the horrid tale.
The demon of the trembling west
With ruthless fury rears his head
From the Atlantic's troubled breast,
And dire destruction round is spread.
He rises on the water's roar,
And death and desolation brings;
The boiling sea, the burning shore,
He sweeps with unrelenting wings.
The warring elements at strife,
Seem wild with rage, and mad with power;
And thousands sunk from light and life,
The victims of that fatal hour.
Brave Henry's gallant vessel lay,
Ill starr'd! near that devoted coast.
How shall I tell; nor need I say,
That he, and all his hopes were lost.

He fell by no proud conqu'ring foe,
That thought was sure in mercy giv'n;
And patience must support the blow
Inflicted by the hand of heaven.
I saw her seated on the beach,
Her eyes were fix'd upon the sea,
Her thoughts the depths of ocean reach;
O, Henry! still they follow'd thee.
No loud complaints were heard to rise,
'Twas vast unutterable woe!
Silent her tongue, and from her eyes
The dews of sorrow ceas'd to flow.
The lustre of her eye was gone,
The roses of her cheek were dead;
The faded lily reign'd alone,
And all the charm of youth was fled.
Pining in thought, a swift decay
Pervaded ev'ry vital part;

The bloom of beauty dropt away,
The canker-worm was in her heart.
Still I lament thee, gentle shade,
Though thy sad pilgrimage is o'er;
Still shall I weep for thee, sweet maid,
Though thy dim eyes can weep no more.
And oft, at dewy fall of night,
I seek the churchway path alone,
And by the moon's pale trembling light
Read thy lov'd name on this white stone.

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