1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Robinson

Charlotte Dacre, "To the Shade of Mary Robinson" Hours of Solitude (1805) 1:130-33.



How sadly, sweet seraph, I mourn that I never,
I ne'er was so happy thee living to know!
How sadly I mourn that the time is gone ever!
And the wish of my bosom must end in vain woe.

How sadly I mourn, lovely seraph, while thinking
That now, in the cold gloomy night of the tomb,
Thou know'st not one heart for thy sorrows is sinking,
One heart that bemoans, with regret, thy sad doom.

How oft, too, I mourn that an heart form'd to love thee—
An heart which responsive had beat to thine own,
Can from thy cell narrow now never remove thee,
Where tranquil thou liest, unconscious and lone.

Oh, world, cruel world! how I shrink, how I tremble
An angel so gracious should be so forlorn!
Oh, world, cruel world! there is not that resemble,
Among you, an angel like her that is gone.

Like a cedar amid the rude desart high soaring,
And looking contempt on the shrubs that surround,
Enduring for years the tempest loud roaring,
And scorning to yield until broke to the ground.

Ah! then, with what joy, ye shrubs so presuming,
Ye rustle and wave o'er the cedar's proud grave!
But degrading your safety, and mean your assuming,
Adversity's storm only buffets the brave!

Oh, thou! whose high virtues, angelic, yet glorious,
At once move my wonder, my pride, and my tears,
Still, still in the grave dost thou triumph victorious,
Thy fame sounding loud in thine enemies' ears!

The wretches, who envied, who fear'd thy perfection,
O'er the threshold of life drove thee trembling away,
Shall yet shudder and sicken, when harass'd reflexion
O'erwhelms with remorse the retributive day.

Oh! say, from thy cold, narrow bed, lovely Mary,
Say, couldst thou not wander, to smile upon me?
Oh! why not, sometimes, in thy form light and airy,
Deign in the deep wild my companion to be?

Oh! why not, sometimes, when I wander in sadness,
Glide distant before me — seen dim thro' the trees?
Or how would my heart bound with mystical gladness
If thy voice were heard, sounding sweet in the breeze!

Or why not, o'ershadow'd by yon drooping willow,
At eve let me mark thee reclining beneath?
Or by moonlight upborne, on the edge of the billow,
Fantastic, and light as of zephyr the breath?

Ah! around thy sad tomb not a weed gaily flaunting
Could Matilda's devotion permit there should be;
But vile weeds thy path were once cruelly haunting,
To blight the fair rose that they sicken'd to see.

Yet the thorns of contempt, with mild dignity arming,
Kept aloof the base upstarts that sought to molest:
Contempt is to cowards the power disarming,
Turns each shaft to a feather, each sting to a jest.

Then grant, O great God! since to Mary 'twas given
Most perfect among erring mortals to be,
That chief of thy slaves she may serve thee in heaven,
And bear, when I die, my frail spirit to thee.