1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

George Barrell Cheever, "To Mrs. Hemans" The Token [Boston] (1830) 124-26.



Thy spirit hath a pure, embalming ray,
E'en like the sun, with his all-silvering light,
That sweetly sheds its glory through the day,
And lends us its reflection still at night—
Falling on every hill and mountain bright,
And forest dark, and sweet and quiet vale,
Bringing a thousand beauties to the sight,
That else had been unseen, or dim and pale;
Filling our souls in summer with delight,
And making winter's snowy robe more dazzling white.

Thus, o'er the world of human feeling, thou
Hast shed the glory of thy thrilling song—
Lit up its pinnacles to flash and glow,
Like stars, that in the deep blue sky do throng,
Till its romantic spots are hallowed so,
That all of beautiful in woman's love,
And all that's noble on the hero's brow,
All that resembles holiness above,
All that we venerate on earth below,
Unconscious in thy song to tenfold beauty grow.

The Pilgrim Fathers! how its light doth stream
And flash in glory o'er that thoughtful band;
In the clear brightness of its magic gleam,
Not dimly seen, those various forms are scanned.
With burning thoughts they tread the rock-bound strand,
The hoary head, the frank, free face of youth,
The dear child clinging to the father's hand,
Stern manhood's brow, and woman's eye of truth—
A mingled crowd upon that wished for land,
Oh! more than Plato's dream, devoutly there they stand!

The lays of many lands — they are thine own—
Yet hast thou twined them with such feelings dear
To all free hearts, and they have such a tone,
Ye may not strike them in the tyrant's ear,
Nor can the coward heart their music hear.
Some should be sung around the peaceful hearth,
For they are loved by all the dwellers there,
And mid domestic scenes had their own birth,
Scenes, e'en the wicked in their hearts revere—
Some in the battle heard, the freeman's soul might cheer.

Thou hast a voice, a glad voice for the spring,
And harvest hath a song of music quick,
And joyous chords the bridal morning ring;
But other notes than these for the sad wreck,
The faithful boy on that still burning deck,
The last, long look to him who was so dear,
The settled paleness on the cold, dead check,
The solemn chant, slow pealed by the sad bier,
The reft one's grief that is too deep to speak,
Woman's strong love, for which all words but thine are weak.

And thou hast thrown o'er all thy blessed songs
A veil of feminine thought, that still doth greet
The soul with joy that not to earth belongs,
A charm from thine own heart, that when we meet
Thy much loved verse, it tells of thy retreat;
Even as those shells, thrown by the flowing sea
In polished beauty at our careless feet,
More exquisitely fair than art can be,
Far from their native ocean still repeat
Forever its loved roar, in mimic murmurs sweet.