Frances Anne Kemble
Upon A Branch Of Flowering Acacia - Poem by Frances Anne Kemble
The blossoms hang again upon the tree,
As when with their sweet breath they greeted me
Against my casement, on that sunny morn,
When thou, first blossom of my spring, wast born,
And as I lay, panting from the fierce strife
With death and agony that won thy life,
Their snowy clusters hung on their brown bough,
E'en as upon my breast, my May-bud, thou.
They seem to me thy sisters, O my child!
And now the air, full of their fragrance mild,
Recalls that hour; a tenfold agony
Pulls at my heart-strings, as I think of thee.
Was it in vain! Oh, was it all in vain!
That night of hope, of terror, and of pain,
When from the shadowy boundaries of death,
I brought thee safely, breathing living breath
Upon my heart—it was a holy shrine.
Full of God's praise—they laid thee, treasure mine
And from its tender depths the blue heaven smiled,
And the white blossoms bowed to thee, my child,
And solemn joy of a new life was spread,
Like a mysterious halo round that bed.
And now how is it, since eleven years
Have steeped that memory in bitterest tears?
Alone, heart-broken, on a distant shore,
Thy childless mother sits lamenting o'er
Flowers, which the spring calls from this foreign earth,
Thy twins, that crowned the morning of thy birth.
How is it with thee—lost—lost—precious one!
In thy fresh spring-time growing up alone?
What warmth unfolds thee?—what sweet dews are shed,
Like love and patience over thy young head?
What holy springs feed thy deep inner life?
What shelters thee from passion's deadly strife?
What guards thy growth, straight, strong, and full and free,
Lovely and glorious, O my fair young tree?
God—Father—Thou—who by this awful fate
Hast lopped, and stripped, and left me desolate!
In the dark bitter floods that o'er my soul
Their billows of despair triumphant roll,
Let me not be o'erwhelmed!—Oh, they are thine,
These jewels of my life—not mine—not mine!
So keep them, that the blossoms of their youth
Shall, in a gracious growth of love and truth,
With an abundant harvest honour Thee:
And bless the blight which Thou hast sent on me;
Withering and blasting, though it seem to fall,
Let it not, O my Father! drink up all
My spirit's sap—so from this fate shall grow
The palm branch for my hand and for my brow,
With which, a hopeful pilgrim, I may tread
The shadowy path where rest awhile the dead,
Ere they rise up, a glorious company,
To find their lost ones, and to worship Thee!
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