1829
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary's Lament.

The Token, a Christmas and New Year's Present. [N. P. Willis, ed.]

Emma Catherine Embury


Five rhyme-royal Spenserians, signed "Emma C. Embury." Mary is Mary Queen of Scots — hence, presumably, the use of the stanza. Mary portentously bewails the death of her first husband: "What pleasure now in glory can I take? | When most I prized it, 'twas for his dear sake— | My loftiest aim was but to share his throne; | How can my weak hand bear the sceptre's weight alone?" p. 132. Emma Catherine Embury (1806-1863) was born in New York and was the leader of a literary salon.

Headnote: "The queen ceased not to direct her looks to the shore of France, until the darkness interrupted her wistful eyes. At the dawn of day the coast of France was still in sight, the galleys having made but little progress during the night. While it remained in view, she often repeated, 'Farewell, France! farewell! I shall never see you more!' Chalmers's Life of the Scottish Queen" p. 131.

Philadelphia Album: "From an excellent and accurate source we learn that the embellishments for the token of the ensuing year surpass in design and execution those of the former volume. — It will be recollected that N. P. Willis is the editor of this work, which tells well for its literary character" 3 (10 September 1828) 117.

Edinburgh Literary Journal: "This lady is considered in the United States as the Mrs. Hemans of America. We are glad to have it in our power to introduce her now, for the first time, to the Scottish reader" (10 October1829) 269.

Rufus Wilmot Griswold: "Miss Manley, now Mrs. Embury, is a native of the city of New York, where her father has been for many years an eminent physician. She was educated in the best schools of that city, and, at twenty, was married to Mr. Embury, now of Brooklyn, a gentleman of liberal fortune and high attainments. At an early age she began to contribute to the periodicals, under the name of 'Ianthe,' and soon after her marriage appeared a collection of her writings, entitled Guido, and other Poems" in Poets and Poetry of America (1842) 313.



Farewell, dear France! my sad heart's chosen home,
Land of my earliest joys, a last farewell!
Still o'er thy shores mine eyes delighted roam.
But ah! the cruel winds the white sails swell;
And, when tomorrow dawns, my look shall dwell
Only upon the rushing waves that bear
My bark too swiftly on to reach its port of care!

Alas! alas! till now I never knew
How sharp might be the thorns that line a crown!
Oh! wo is mine that thus am doomed to view,
At once, the smile of fortune and her frown,
And find my spirit in the dust cast down,
When pride would bid me think on queenly state,
And spurn 'mid glory's dreams the humbler ills of fate!

Yet ah! how can the mournful widow's heart
Turn to the joys ambition might awake?
Doomed from the husband of my youth to part,
What pleasure now in glory can I take?
When most I prized it, 'twas for his dear sake—
My loftiest aim was but to share his throne;
How can my weak hand bear the sceptre's weight alone?

Like yon pale moon must be my dreary way;
Lonely she shines, although so pure and bright,
And as she blends not with the sun's rich ray,
But waits his absence to diffuse her light,
So, only since my day has turned to night,
Has so much splendor gathered round my name—
Alas! how happier far had I but shared his fame!

But he is gone; and I his heavy loss,
Through many a lonely year, am doomed to weep.
Yet oft my thoughts the dark blue sea will cross,
To seek the spot where all I love doth sleep;
For in my husband's grave is buried deep
The all of joy that I could ever taste;
And glory but illumes my sad heart's blighted waste.

[pp. 131-32]