Alaric Alexander Watts

(1797-1864 / England)

To Octavia, The Infant Daughter Of The Late John Larking, Esq.

Poem by Alaric Alexander Watts

Full many a gloomy month hath passed,
On flagging wing, regardless by,
Unmarked by aught, save grief, since last
I gazed upon thy bright blue eye,
And bade my lyre pour forth for thee
Its strains of wildest minstrelsy?
For all my joys are withered now,
The hopes I most relied on thwarted,
And sorrow hath o'erspread my brow
With many a shade since last we parted:
Yet, 'mid this mùrkiness of lot,
Young Peri, thou art unforgot!
There are who love to trace the smile
That dimples upon Childhood's cheek,
And hear from lips devoid of guile
The dictates of the bosom break:
Ah, who of such could look on thee
Without a wish to rival me!
None: his must be a stubborn heart,
And strange to every gentler feeling,
Who from thy glance could bear to part
Cold and unmoved, without revealing
Some portion of the fond regret
That dimmed my eyes when last we met!
Sweet Bud of Beauty! 'mid the thrill,
The sickening thrill of hope delayed,”
Peril, and almost every ill
That can the breast of man invade”
No tender thought of thine and thee
Hath faded from my memory:
For I have dwelt on each dear form
Till woe, awhile, gave place to gladness,
And that remembrance seemed to charm,
Almost to peace, my bosom's sadness;
And now, again, I breathe a lay
To hail thee on thy natal day!
Oh, might my fervent prayers prevail
For blessings on thy future years,
Or innocence, like thine, avail
To save thee from affliction's tears”
Each moment of thy life should bring
Some new delight upon its wing:
And the wild sparkle of thine eye,
Thy guilelessness of soul revealing,
Beam ever thus as brilliantly;
Undimmed, save by those gems of feeling,
Those soft, luxurious drops that flow
In pity for another's woe!
But vain the wish; it may not be;
Could prayers avert misfortune's blight,
Or hearts from sinful passion free
Here hope for unalloyed delight,
Then, those who watch thine opening bloom
Had never known an hour of gloom:
No; if the chastening stroke of Fate
On guilty heads alone descended,
They would not sure have felt its weight,
In whose pure bosoms, sweetly blended,
Life's kindliest social virtues move
In one unfailing tide of love.
Then since upon this earth joy's beams
Are fading, frail, and few in number,
And melt like the light-woven dreams
That steal upon the mourner's slumber;
Sweet one! I'll wish thee strength to bear
The ills that heaven may bid thee share:
And when thine infancy hath fled,
And Time with Woman's zone hath bound thee,
If, in the path thou'rt doomed to tread,
The thorns of sorrow lurk and wound thee,
Be thine that exquisite relief
That blossoms in the springs of grief!
And like the many-tinted bow,
That smiles the showery clouds away,
May Hope, Grief's Iris here below,
Attend and cheer thee on thy way,
Till full of years, thy cares at rest,
Thou seek'st the mansions of the blest!
Young Sister of a mortalNine,
Farewell! perchance a long farewell!
Though griefs unnumbered yet be mine”
Griefs, Hope may vainly strive to quell”
'Twill half unteach my soul to pine,
If there be bliss for thee and thine!

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010