1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

Charles W. Thomson, "To Mrs. Felicia Hemans" The Ariel [Philadelphia] 2 (11 July 1829) 41.



Heaven's own pure ray has lighted up thy heart,
Fair minstrel of the soft and plaintive lyre!
And shown thee mysteries, which no human art
Of earthly culture ever could inspire.
Thine is the gift, the glorious gift, to see
All that is bright and beautiful around—
To gather lofty thoughts from every tree,
And hear rich melodies in every sound!

The whispers of the breeze! These to thee
Are full of fantasies sublime and grand;
And every murmur of the dark blue sea
Sends thee an echo from the Muse's land.
For thee the running brooks have each a song—
To thee the forests speak a language known—
The faintest note which music breathes along—
And thy heart strikes a sympathetic tone.

The burning stars, that shine along the sky,
Speak to thy spirit with their tongues of fire,
And lead thee to imaginations high—
Bright minstrel of the sweet and pensive lyre!
Yes! the blue sky — the storm — the rolling sea—
A cloud — the sun-rise — star-light — and the dew
Smiles upon nature's face! There are to thee
Alive with fancies beautiful and true.

Things — that to other eyes, whose bounded gaze
Sees nought beyond external beauties shine,
Afford no pleasure — wrapp'd in earthly haze,
Are redolent of ecstasy to thine!
The "voice of spring," that speaks from her wild flowers,
Has power to reach into thy inmost soul:
The song of summer birds from forest bowers
Fall o'er thy spirit like a shadowing stole.

Thou read'st the bubbling fountains; voices live
In the wild winds for thee; and thou may'st claim
The power which can to "airy nothings give
A local habitation and a name."
Favoured of Heaven! Yet destined still to know
Those ills which unprovided genius brings—
Like birds, whose music gathers from below
The death-shot doomed to paralyze their wings!

Yet, though the tempest hurtles wildly by,
And thy frail bark is toss'd upon the wave,
Thou still canst own, with faith's unawav'ring eye,
A hope in One omnipotent to save!
With such a hope lift up thy radiant lyre—
Strike with an energy that knows not wrong—
And Heaven's bright sun shall gild with quiv'ring wire,
And spread a widening halo round thy song!