The Widow To Her Son’s Betrothed


AH, cease to plead with that sweet cheerful voice,
Nor bid me struggle with a weight of woe,
Lest from the very tone that says ‘rejoice’
A double bitterness of grief should grow;
Those words from THEE convey no gladdening thought,
No sound of comfort lingers in their tone,
But by their means a haunting shade is brought
Of love and happiness for ever gone!

My son!–alas, hast thou forgotten him,
That thou art full of hopeful plans again?
His heart is cold–his joyous eyes are dim,–
For him THE FUTURE is a word in vain!
He never more the welcome hours may share,
Nor bid Love’s sunshine cheer our lonely home,–
How hast thou conquer’d all the long despair
Born of that sentence–He is in the tomb?

How can thy hand with cheerful fondness press
The hands of friends who still on earth may stay–
Remembering his most passionate caress
When the LONG PARTING summon’d him away?
How can’st thou keep from bitter weeping, while
Strange voices tell thee thou art brightly fair–
Remembering how he loved thy playful smile,
Kiss’d thy smooth cheek, and praised thy burnish’d hair?

How can’st thou laugh? How can’st thou warble songs?
How can’st thou lightly tread the meadow-fields,
Praising the freshness which to spring belongs,
And the sweet incense which the hedge-flower yields?
Does not the many-blossom’d spring recal
Our pleasant walks through cowslip-spangled meads,–
The violet-scented lanes–the warm south-wall,
Where early flow’rets rear’d their welcome heads?

Does not remembrance darken on thy brow
When the wild rose a richer fragrance flings–
When the caressing breezes lift the bough,
And the sweet thrush more passionately sings;–
Dost thou not, then, lament for him whose form
Was ever near thee, full of earnest grace?
Does not the sudden darkness of the storm
Seem luridly to fall on Nature’s face?

It does to ME! The murmuring summer breeze,
Which thou dost turn thy glowing cheek to meet,
For me sweeps desolately through the trees,
And moans a dying requiem at my feet!
The glistening river which in beauty glides,
Sparkling and blue with morn’s triumphant light,
All lonely flows, or in its bosom hides
A broken image lost to human sight!

But THOU!–Ah! turn thee not in grief away;
I do not wish thy soul as sadly wrung–
I know the freedom of thy spirit’s play,
I know thy bounding heart is fresh and young:
I know corroding Time will slowly break
The links which bound most fondly and most fast,
And Hope will be Youth’s comforter, and make
The long bright Future overweigh the Past.

Only, when full of tears I raise mine eyes
And meet thine ever full of smiling light,
I feel as though thy vanish’d sympathies
Were buried in HIS grave, where all is night;
And when beside our lonely hearth I sit,
And thy light laugh comes echoing to my ear,
I wonder how the waste of mirth and wit
Hath still the power thy widow’d heart to cheer!

Bear with me yet! Mine is a harsh complaint!
And thy youth’s innocent lightheartedness
Should rather soothe me when my spirits faint
Than seem to mock my age’s lone distress.
But oh! the tide of grief is swelling high,
And if so soon forgetfulness must be–
If, for the DEAD, thou hast no further sigh,
Weep for his Mother!–Weep, young Bride, for ME!


KNOW ye in ages past that tower
By human hands built strong and high?
Arch over arch, with magic power,
Rose proudly each successive hour,
To reach the happy sky.

It rose, till human pride was crushed–
Quick came the unexpected change;
A moment every tone was hushed,
And then again they freely gushed,
But sounded wild and strange.

Loud, quick, and clear, each voice was heard,
Calling for lime, and stone, and wood,
All uttered words–but not one word;
More than the carol of a bird,
Their fellows understood.

Is there no Babel but that one,
The storied tower of other days?–
Where, round the giant pile of stone,
Pausing they stood–their labour done,
To listen in amaze.

Fair springs the tower of hope and fame,
When all our life is fairy land;
Till, scarcely knowing what to blame,
Our fellows cease to feel the same–
We cease to understand.

Then, when they coldly smile to hear
The burning dreams of earlier days;
The rapid fall from hope to fear,
When eyes whose every glance was dear,
Seem changing as they gaze:

Then, when we feel ’twere vain to speak
Of fervent hopes–aspirings high–
Of thoughts for which all words are weak–
Of wild far dreams, wherein we seek
Knowledge of earth and sky:

Of communings with nature’s God,
When impulse deep the soul hath moved–

Of tears which sink within the sod,
Where, mingling with the valley clod,
Lies something we have loved:

Then cometh ours;–and better theirs–
Of stranger tongues together brought,
Than that in which we all have shares,
A Babel in a world of cares–
Of feeling and of thought.

The Forsaken


IT is the music of her native land,–
The airs she used to love in happier days;
The lute is struck by some young gentle hand,
To soothe her spirit with remember’d lays.

But her sad heart is wandering from the notes,
Her ear is fill’d with an imagined strain;
Vainly the soften’d music round her floats,
The echo it awakes is all of pain!

The echo it awakes, is of a voice
Which never more her weary heart shall cheer;
Fain would she banish it, but hath no choice,
Its vanish’d sound still haunts her shrinking ear,–

Still haunts her with its tones of joy and love,
Its memories of bitterness and wrong,
Bidding her thoughts thro’ various changes rove,–
Welcomes, farewells, and snatches of wild song.

Why bring her music? She had half forgot
How left, how lonely, how oppress’d she was;
Why, by these strains, recal her former lot,
The depth of all her suffering, and its cause?

Know ye not what a spell there is in sound?
Know ye not that the melody of words
Is nothing to the power that wanders round,
Giving vague language to harmonious chords?

Oh I keep ye silence! He hath sung to her,
And from that hour–(faint twilight, sweet and dim,
When the low breeze scarce made the branches stirs)–
Music hath been a memory of HIM!

Chords which the wandering fingers scarcely touch
When they would seek for some forgotten song,–
Stray notes which have no certain meaning, such
As careless hands unthinkingly prolong,–

Come unto HER, fraught with a vivid dream
Of love, in all its wild and passionate strength,–
Of sunsets, glittering on the purple stream,–
Of shadows, deepening into twilight length,–

Of gentle sounds, when the warm world lay hush’d
Beneath the soft breath of the evening air,–
Of hopes and fears, and expectations crush’d,
By one long certainty of blank despair!

Bear to the sick man’s couch the fiery cup,
Pledged by wild feasters in their riotous hours,
And bid his parch’d lips drink the poison up,
As tho’ its foam held cool refreshing powers,–

Lift some poor wounded wretch, whose writhing pain
Finds soothing only in an utter rest,
Forth in some rude-made litter, to regain
Strength for his limbs and vigour for his breast;–

But soothe ye not that proud forsaken heart
With strains whose sweetness maddens as they fall;
Untroubled let her feverish soul depart–
Not long shall memory’s power its might enthral;

Not long,–tho’ balmy be the summer’s breath!
In the deep stillness of its golden light,
A shadowy spirit sits, whose name is DEATH,
And turns, what was all beauty, into blight;

And she, before whose sad and dreaming eye
Visions of by-gone days are sweeping on,
In her unfaded youth shall drooping die,
Shut from the glow of that Italian sun:

Then let the organ’s solemn notes prolong
Their glory round the silence of her grave,
Then let the choral voices swell in song
And echo thro’ the chancel and the nave;

For then her heart shall ache not at the sound,
Then the faint fever of her life shall cease
Silence, unbroken, calm, shall reign around,
And the long restless shall be laid at peace.

Sonnet Xii

I STAND beside the waves,–the mournful waves,–
Where thou didst stand in silence and in fear,
For thou wert train’d by custom’s haughty slaves,
And love, from such as I, disdain’d to hear;
Yet, with the murmur of the echoing sea,
And the monotonous billows, rolling on,
Were mingled sounds of weeping,–for in thee
All nature was not harden’d into stone:
And from the shore there came a distant chime
From the old village-clock;–ah! since that day,
Like a dull passing-bell each stroke of time
Falls on my heart; and in the ocean spray
A voice of lamentation seems to dwell,
As in that bitter hour of agonised farewell!

The Bride

SHE is standing by her loved one’s side,
A young and a fair and a gentle bride,
But mournfulness hath crost her face
Like shadows in a sunny place,
And wistfully her eye doth strain
Across the blue and distant main.
My home! my home!-I would I were
Again in joyous gladness there!
My home! my home!-I would I heard
The singing voice, like some small bird,
Of him, our mother’s youngest child,
With light soft step, and features mild.-
I would I saw that dear one now,
With the proud eye and noble brow,

Whose very errors were more loved
Than all our reason most approved.
And she, my fairy sister, she,
Who was the soul of childish glee;
Who loved me so-oh, let me hear
Once more those tones familiar, dear,
Which haunt my rest; and I will smile
Even as I used to do erewhile.
I know that some have fall’n asleep-
I know that some have learnt to weep-
But my heart never feels the same
As when those light steps round me came:
And sadness weighs my heavy eye
Beneath this cheerless stranger sky:
Tho’ fewer now might round me come-
It is my home-my own old home!

She is back again in her sunny home,
And thick and fast the beatings come
Of that young heart, as round she sees
The same sweet flowers, the same old trees;
But they, the living flowers she loved,
Are they the same? are they unmoved?-
No-time which withers leaf and stem
Hath thrown his withering change o’er them.

Where there was mirth, is silence now-
Where there was joy, a darkened brow-
The bounding step hath given place
To the slow stealing mournful pace;
The proud bright eye is now less proud,
By time, and thought, and sickness bowed.
And the light singing voice no more
Its joyful carols echoes o’er,
But whispers; fearful some gay tone
May wake the thought of pleasures gone.
It is her home-but all in vain
Some lingering things unchanged remain:
The present wakes no smile-the past
Hath tears to bid its memory last.
She knew that some were gone-but oh!
She knew not-youth can never know
How furrowed o’er with silent thought
Are brows which grief and time have taught.
The murmuring of some shadowy word,
Which was a name-which now, unheard,
May wander thro’ the clear cold sky,
Or wake the echo for reply:
The lingering pause in some bright spot
To dream of those who now are not:
The gaze that vainly seeks to trace
Lost feelings beaming on a face

Where time and sorrow, guilt and care,
Have past and left their withering there:-
These are her joys; and she doth roam
Around her dear but desert home;
Peopling the vacant seats, till tears arise,
And blot the dim sweet vision from her eyes.

The Poplar Field

‘The poplars are fell’d: farewell to the shade,
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade;
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.

‘Twelve years have elapsed, since I last took a view
Of my favourite field, and the bank where they grew;
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat, that once lent me a shade.

‘The blackbird has fled to another retreat,
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat,
And the scene where his melody charm’d me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

‘My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie as lowly as they,
With a turf on my breast, and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

”Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Tho’ his life be a dream, his enjoyments, I see,
Have a being less durable even than he.’


SURELY I heard a voice-surely my name
Was breathed in tones familiar to my heart!
I listened-and the low wind stealing came,
In darkness and in silence to depart.

Surely I saw a form, a proud bright form,
Standing beside my couch! I raised mine eyes:
‘Twas but a dim cloud, herald of a storm,
That floated through the grey and twilight skies.

Surely the brightness of the summer hour
Hath suddenly burst upon the circling gloom!
I dream; ’twas but the perfume of a flower,
Which the breeze wafted through the silent room.

Surely a hand clasped mine with greetings fond!
A name is murmured by my lips with pain;
Woe for that sound-woe for love’s broken bond.
I start-I wake-I am alone again!


IT is the twilight hour,
The daylight toil is done,
And the last rays are departing
Of the cold and wintry sun.
It is the time when Friendship
Holds converse fair and free,
It is the time when children
Dance round the mother’s knee.
But my soul is faint and heavy,
With a yearning sad and deep,
By the fireside lone and dreary
I sit me down and weep!
Where are ye, merry voices,
Whose clear and bird-like tone,
Some other ear now blesses,
Less anxious than my own?

Where are ye, steps of lightness,
Which fell like blossom-showers?
Where are ye, sounds of laughter,
That cheer’d the pleasant hours?
Thro’ the dim light slow declining,
Where my wistful glances fall,
I can see your pictures hanging
Against the silent wall;–
They gleam athwart the darkness,
With their sweet and changeless eyes,
But mute are ye, my children!
No voice to mine replies.
Where are ye? Are ye playing
By the stranger’s blazing hearth;
Forgetting in your gladness,
Your old home’s former mirth?
Are ye dancing? Are ye singing?
Are ye full of childish glee?
Or do your light hearts sadden
With the memory of me?
Round whom, oh! gentle darlings,
Do your young arms fondly twine,
Does she press you to her bosom
Who hath taken you from mine?

Oh! boys, the twilight hour
Such a heavy time hath grown,–
It recalls with such deep anguish
All I used to call my own,–
That the harshest word that ever
Was spoken to me there,
Would be trivial–would be welcome–
In the depth of my despair!
Yet no! Despair shall sink not,
While Life and Love remain,–
Tho’ the weary struggle haunt me,
And my prayer be made in vain:
Tho’ at times my spirit fail me,
And the bitter tear-drops fall,
Tho’ my lot be hard and lonely,
Yet I hope–I hope thro’ all!

When the mournful Jewish mother
Laid her infant down to rest,
In doubt, and fear, and sorrow,
On the water’s changeful breast;

She knew not what the future
Should bring the sorely-tried:
That the High Priest of her nation,
Was the babe she sought to hide.
No! in terror wildly flying,
She hurried on her path;
Her swoln heart full to bursting
Of woman’s helpless wrath;
Of that wrath so blent with anguish,
When we seek to shield from ill
Those feeble little creatures
Who seem more helpless still!
Ah! no doubt, in such an hour,
Her thoughts were harsh and wild;
The fiercer burned her spirit,
The more she loved her child;
No doubt, a frenzied anger
Was mingled with her fear,
When that prayer arose for justice
Which God hath sworn to hear.
He heard it! From His Heaven,
In its blue and boundless scope,
He saw that task of anguish,
And that fragile ark of hope;

When she turn’d from that lost infant,
Her weeping eyes of love,
And the cold reeds bent beneath it–
His angels watch’d above!
She was spared the bitter sorrow
Of her young child’s early death,
Or the doubt where he was carried
To draw his distant breath;
She was call’d his life to nourish
From the well-springs of her heart,
God’s mercy re-uniting
Those whom man had forced apart!

Nor was thy woe forgotten,
Whose worn and weary feet
Were driven from thy homestead,
Through the red sand’s parching heat;
Poor Hagar! scorn’d and banish’d,
That another’s son might be
Sole claimant on that father,
Who felt no more for thee.

Ah! when thy dark eye wander’d,
Forlorn Egyptian slave!
Across that lurid desert,
And saw no fountain wave,–
When thy southern heart, despairing,
In the passion of its grief,
Foresaw no ray of comfort,
No shadow of relief;
But to cast the young child from thee,
That thou might’st not see him die,
How sank thy broken spirit–
But the Lord of Hosts was nigh!
He (He, too oft-forgotten,
In sorrow as in joy)
Had will’d they should not perish–
The outcast and her boy:
The cool breeze swept across them
From the angel’s waving wing,–
The fresh tide gush’d in brightness
From the fountain’s living spring,–
And they stood–those two–forsaken
By all earthly love or aid,
Upheld by God’s firm promise,
Serene and undismay’d!

And thou, Nain’s grieving widow!
Whose task of life seem’d done,
When the pale corse lay before thee
Of thy dear and only son;
Though Death, that fearful shadow,
Had veil’d his fair young eyes,
There was mercy for thy weeping,
There was pity for thy sighs!
The gentle voice of Jesus,
(Who the touch of sorrow knew)
The grave’s cold claim arrested
E’er it hid him from thy view;
And those loving orbs re-open’d
And knew thy mournful face,–
And the stiff limbs warm’d and bent them
With all life’s moving grace,–
And his senses dawn’d and waken’d
From the dark and frozen spell,
Which death had cast around him
Whom thou did’st love so well;
Till, like one return’d from exile
To his former home of rest,
Who speaks not, while his mother
Falls sobbing on his breast;

But with strange bewilder’d glances
Looks round on objects near,
To recognise and welcome
All that memory held dear,–
Thy young son stood before thee
All living and restored,
And they who saw the wonder
Knelt down to praise the Lord!

The twilight hour is over!
In busier homes than mine
I can see the shadows crossing
Athwart the taper’s shine;
I hear the roll of chariots
And the tread of homeward feet,
And the lamps’ long rows of splendor
Gleam through the misty street.
No more I mark the objects
In my cold and cheerless room;
The fire’s unheeded embers
Have sunk–and all is gloom;

But I know where hang your pictures
Against the silent wall,
And my eyes turn sadly towards them,
Tho’ I hope–I hope thro’ all.

By the summons to that mother,
Whose fondness fate beguiled,
When the tyrant’s gentle daughter
Saved her river-floating child;–
By the sudden joy which bounded
In the banish’d Hagar’s heart,
When she saw the gushing fountain
From the sandy desert start;–
By the living smile which greeted
The lonely one of Nain,
When her long last watch was over
And her hope seem’d wild and vain;–
By all the tender mercy
God hath shown to human grief,
When fate or man’s perverseness
Denied and barr’d relief,–

By the helpless woe which taught me
To look to him alone,
From the vain appeals for justice
And wild efforts of my own,–
By thy light–thou unseen future,
And thy tears–thou bitter past,
I will hope–tho’ all forsake me,
In His mercy to the last!

The Reprieve

A MOMENT since, he stood unmoved–alone;
Courage and thought on his resolvēd brow;
But hope is quivering in the broken tone,
Whose bitter anguish seems to shake him now:
Her light foot woke no echo as it came,
The rustling robe her sudden swiftness told;
She pleads for one who dies a death of shame;
She pleads–for agony and love are bold.

‘Oh! hear me, thou, who in the sunshine’s glare
So calmly waitest till the warning bell
Shall of the closing hour of his despair
In gloomy notes of muffled triumph tell.

Let him not die! Avenging Heaven is just;
Thine, a like fate in after years may be:
Thy forfeit head may gasping bite the dust,
While those thou lovest, plead in vain for thee!
Thou smilest sternly: thou could’st well brave death;
Hast braved it often on the tented field.
So fought my hero on th’ ensanguined heath,
With desperate strength, that knew not how to yield:
But oh! the death whose punctual hour is set,
And waited for mid lingering thoughts of pain;
Where no excitement bids the heart forget,
And skill and courage are alike in vain;
Who shall find strength for that?–Oh! man, to whom
Fate, chance, or what thou wilt, hath given this hour–
Upon whose will depends his dreaded doom–
Doth it not awe thee, thinking of thy power?
In the wide battle’s hot and furious rage,
Where the mix’d banners flutter to and fro,
Where all alike the desperate combat wage,
One of a thousand swords may pierce him through:
But, now, his life is in thy single hand:
To thee the strange and startling power is given–
And thou shalt answer for this day’s command
When ye stand face to face in God’s own Heaven.

Bear with me! pardon me this sudden start!
My words are bitter, for my heart is sore;
And oh! dark soldier of the iron heart,
Fain would I learn the speech should touch thee more!
He hath a mother–age hath dimm’d her sight–
But when his quick returning step comes nigh,
She smiles, as though she saw a sudden light,
And turns to bless him with a stifled sigh.
When to her arms a lonely wretch I go,
And she doth ask for him, the true and the brave,
While on her cheek faint smiles of welcome glow,
How shall I answer ‘he is in the grave!’
He hath a little son–a mirthful boy,
Whose coral lips with ready smiles are curl’d;
Wilt thou quench all the spring-time of his joy,
And leave him orphan in a friendless world?
Hast thou no children?–Do no visions come,
When the low night-wind through the poplar grieves–
Echoes of farewell voices–sounds of home–
For which thy busy day no leisure leaves?
Some one doth love thee–some one thou dost love–
(For such the blessed lot of all on earth,)
Some one to whom thy thoughts oft fondly rove,
The sharer of thy sorrows and thy mirth;

Who with dim weeping eyes, and thoughts that burn,
Sees thy proud form lead forth th’ embattled host;
To whom ‘a victory’ speaks of thy return–
And ‘a defeat’ means only thou are lost!
If such there be, (and on thy helm-worn brow
Sternness, not cruelty, doth seem to reign,)
Think it is she, who kneels before thee now,
Her heart which bursts with agony of pain.

‘Hark–‘T is the warning stroke–his hour is come–
I hear the bell slow clanging on the air–
I hear the beating of the muffled drum–
Thou hast a moment yet to save and spare!
Oh! when returning to thy native land,
Greeted with grateful tears and loud acclaim;
While gazing on thy homeward march they stand,
And smiling children shout thy welcome name:
How wilt thou bear the joyous village chimes,
Whose ringing peals remind thee of to-day–
Will not my image haunt thee at those times?
And my hoarse desperate voice seem yet to pray?
When thy long term of bloody toil is past,
And the hush’d trumpet calls no more to arms–
Will not his death thy tranquil brow o’ercast,
And rob that peaceful hour of half its charms?

When thy child’s mother bends thy lip to press,
And her true hand lies clasp’d within thine own–
Will her low voice have perfect power to bless,
Remembering me, the widow’d and the lone?
When they embrace thee–when they welcome thee–
By all my hopes of Heaven, thy brow relents!
Oh! sign the paper–let his life go free–
Give it me quick!’–
‘What ho! Raise her–the woman faints!’

The Fever-Dream

IT was a fever-dream; I lay
Awake, as in the broad bright day,
But faint and worn I drew my breath
Like those who wait for coming death;
And my hand lay helpless on my pillow
Weak as a reed or bending willow;
And the night-lamp, with its shadowy veil,
And its light so sickly, faint, and pale,
Gleamed mournfully on objects round;
And the clock’s stroke was the only sound;
Measuring the hours of silent time
With a heavy and unwelcome chime,
As still monotonously true
To its pulse-like beat, the minutes flew.

I was alone, but not asleep;
Too weary, and too wetk to weep.
My eyes had closed in sadness there;
And they who watched o’er my despair
Had placed that dim light in the room,
And deepened the surrounding gloom,
By curtaining out the few sad rays
Which made things present to my gaze;
And all because they vainly thought
At last the night its rest had brought,–
Alas! rest came no more to me
So heavy was my misery!

They left me, and my heart was filled
With wandering dreams, whose fancies thrilled
Painfully through my feeble brain,
Till I almost wished them back again.
Yet wherefore should I bid them stay?
They could not chase those dreams away,
But only watch me as I lay.

They left me, and the midnight stroke
From the old clock the silence broke;
And with a wild repining sigh
I wished it were my time to die!
And then, with spirit all dismayed,
For that wild wish, forgiveness prayed,
Humbling myself to God’s high power
To bear His will, and wait His hour.

And while I darkly rested there,
The breath of a young child’s floating hair,
Perfumed, and warm, and glistening bright,
Swept past me in the shrouding night;–
And the footsteps of children, light and quick,
(While my heart beat loud, and my breath came thick)
Went to and fro on the silent floor;–
And the lock was turned in the fastened door,
As a child may turn it, who tiptoe stands
With his fair round arms and his dimpled hands,
Putting out all their strength in vain
Admittance by his own means to gain:
Till his sweet impatient voice is heard
Like the chirp of a young imprisoned bird,
Seeking an entrance still to win
By fond petitions to those within.

A child’s soft shadowy hair, bright smiles,
His merry laugh, and coaxing wiles,
These are sweet things,–most precious things,–
But in spite of my brain’s wild wanderings,
I knew that they dwelt in my fancy only,
And that I was sad, and left, and lonely;
And the fear of a dreadful madness came
And withered my soul like a parching flame;
And I felt the strong delirium growing,
And the thread of my feeble senses going,
And I heard with a horror all untold
Which turned my hot blood icy-cold,
Those light steps draw more near my bed;
And by visions I was visited,
Of the gentle eyes which I might not see,
And the faces that were so far from me!

And blest, oh I blest was the morning beam
Which woke me up from my fever-dream!

The Future.

I WAS a laughing child, and gaily dwelt
Where murmuring brooks, and dark blue rivers roll’d,
And shadowy trees outspread their silent arms,
To welcome all the weary to their rest.
And there an antique castle rais’d its head,
Where dwelt a fair and fairy girl: perchance
Two summers she had seen beyond my years;
And all she said or did, was said and done
With such a light and airy sportiveness,
That oft I envied her, for I was poor,
And lowly, and to me her fate did seem
Fraught with a certainty of happiness.
Years past; and she was wed against her will,
To one who sought her for the gold she brought,
And they did vex and wound her gentle spirit,
Till madness took the place of misery.

And oft I heard her low, soft, gentle song,
Breathing of early times with mournful sound,
Till I could weep to hear, and thought how sad.
The envied future of her life had prov’d.
And then I grew a fond and thoughtful girl,
Loving, and deeming I was lov’d again:
But he that won my easy heart, full soon
Turn’d to another:-she might be more fair,
But could not love him better. And I wept,
Day after day, till weary grew my spirit,
With fancying how happy she must be
Whom he had chosen-yet she was not so;
For he she wedded, loved her for a time,
And then he changed, even as he did to me,
Though something later; and he sought another
To please his fancy, far away from home.
And he was kind: oh, yes! he still was kind.
It vex’d her more; for though she knew his love
Had faded like the primrose after spring,
Yet there was nothing which she might complain,
Had cause to grieve her; he was gentle still.
She would have given all the store she had,
That he would but be angry for an hour,
That she might come and soothe his wounded spirit,
And lay her weeping head upon his bosom,
And say, how freely she forgave her wrongs:

But still, with calm, cold kindness he pursued
(Kindness, the mockery of departed love!)
His way-and then she died, the broken-hearted;
And I thanked heaven, who gave me not her lot,
Though I had wish’d it.
Again, I was a wife, a happy wife;
And he I loved was still unchangeable,
And kind, and true, and loved me from his soul;
But I was childless, and my lonely heart
Yearned for an image of my heart’s beloved,
A something which should be my ‘future’ now
That I had so much of my life gone by;
Something to look to after I should go,
And all except my memory be past.
There was a child, a little rosy thing,
With sunny eyes, and curled and shining hair,
That used to play among the daisy flowers,
Looking as innocent and fair as they;
And sail its little boat upon the stream,
Gazing with dark blue eyes in the blue waters,
And singing in its merriment of heart
All the bright day: and when the sun was setting,
It came unbid to its glad mother’s side,
To lisp with holy look its evening prayer:
And, kneeling on the green and flowery ground,
At the sweet cottage door-he fixed his eyes

For some short moments on her tranquil face,
As if she was his guiding star to God;
And then with young, meek, innocent brow upraised,
Spoke the slow words with lips that longed to smile,
But dared not. Oh! I loved that child with all
A mother’s fondest love; and, as he grew
More and more beautiful from day to day,
The half-involuntary sigh I gave
Spoke but too plain the wish that he were mine-
My child-my own. And in my solitude,
Often I clasped my hands and thought of him,
And looked with mournful and reproachful gaze
To heaven, which had denied me such a one.
Years past: the child became a rebel boy;
The boy a wild, untamed, and passionate youth;
The youth a man-but such a man! so fierce,
So wild, so headlong, and so haughty too,
So cruel in avenging any wrongs,
So merciless when he had half avenged them!
At length his hour had come-a deed of blood,
Of murder, was upon his guilty soul.
He stood in that same spot, by his sweet home,
The same blue river flowing by his feet,
(Whose stream might never wash his guilt away
The same green hills, and mossy sloping banks,
Where the bright sun was smiling as of yore:

With pallid cheek and dark and sullen brow,
The beautiful and lost; you might have deemed
That Satan, newly banished, stood and gazed
On the bright scenery of an infant world.
For, fallen as he was, his Maker’s hand
Had stamped him beauteous, and he was so still.
And his eyes turned from off his early home
With something like a shudder; and they lighted
On his poor broken-hearted mother’s grave.
And there was something in them of old times,
Ere sin had darkened o’er their tranquil blue,
In that most mournful look-that made me weep;
‘For I had gazed on him with fear and anguish
Till now. And, ‘weep for her,’ my favourite said,
For she was good-I murdered her-I killed
Many that harmed me not.’ And still he spoke
In a low, listless voice; and forms came round
Who dragged him from us. I remember not
What followed then. But on another day,
There was a crowd collected, and a cart
Slowly approached to give to shameful death
Its burden; and there was a prayer, and silence,
Silence like that of death. And then a murmur!
And all was over. And I groaned, and turned
To where his poor old father had been sitting;
And there he sate, still with his feeble limbs

And palsied head, and dim and watery eyes,
Gazing up at the place where was his son;
And with a shuddering touch I sought to rouse him,
But could not, for the poor old man was dead.
And then I flung myself upon the ground,
And mingled salt tears with the evening dew;
And thanked my God that he was not my son;
And that I was a childless, lonely wife.
To-morrow I will tell thee all that now
Remains to tell-but I am old and feeble.
And cannot speak for tears.
She rose and went,
But she returned no more. The morrow came,
But not to her;-the tale of life was finished,
Not by her lips, for she had ceased to breath.
But, by this silent warning joined to hers,
How little we may count upon the future,
Or reckon what that future may bring forth!