A Celebration of Women Writers

Hymns on the Works of Nature, for the Use of Children by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835). Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, 1827.

[Title Page]















  BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the ninth day of November, A.D. 1827, and in the fifty-second year of the Independence of the United States of America, Hilliard, Gray, Little, anp Wilkins of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words of the following, to wit:-
  "Hymns on the Works of Nature, for the Use of Children. By Mrs. Felicia Hemans. Now first pubished."
  In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned," and also to an act, entitled, "An act supplementary to an act, entitled 'An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned;' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

Clerk of the District of Massachusetts.

Hilliard, Metcalf, & Company,
Printers to the University.


THE following Hymns were written expressly for the use of Mrs. Hemans's own children. She has consented to their publication, in the hope that they may be useful to others. The editor trusts that they will afford a new source of gratification to her admirers and friends in this country.

To the Hymns are added two beautiful little poems before published, addressed by Mrs. Hemans to her children.


[Online Only]


Introductory Verses. v
Hymns on the Works of Nature.
    The Rainbow. 7
    The Sun. 10
    The Rivers. 12
    The Stars. 14
    The Ocean. 17
    The Thunder Storm. 20
    The Birds. 23
    The Sky-lark. 26
    The Nightingale. 27
    The Northern Spring. 29
    Paraphrase of Psalm CXLVIII. 31
To One of the Author's Children on his Birth Day, 27th August, 1825. 33
To a Younger Child on a Similar Occasion, 17 September, 1825. 35




OH! blest art thou, whose steps may rove
Through the green paths of vale and grove,
Or, leaving all their charms below,
Climb the wild mountain's airy brow;

And gaze afar o'er cultured plains,
And cities with their stately fanes,
And forests, that beneath thee lie,
And ocean mingling with the sky.

For man can show thee nought so fair,
As Nature's varied marvels there;
And if thy pure and artless breast
Can feel their grandeur, thou art blest!

[Page vi]

For thee the stream in beauty flows,
For thee the gale of summer blows,
And, in deep glen and wood-walk free,
Voices of joy still breathe for thee.

But happier far, if then thy soul
Can soar to Him who made the whole,
If to thine eye the simplest flower
Portray His bounty and His power.

If, in whate'er is bright or grand,
Thy mind can trace His viewless hand,
If Nature's music bid thee raise
Thy song of gratitude and praise;

If heaven and earth, with beauty fraught,
Lead to His throne thy raptured thought,
If there thou lov'st His love to read,
Then, wanderer, thou art blest indeed.



I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
GENESIS ix. 13.
SOFT falls the mild, reviving shower
  From April's changeful skies,
And rain-drops bend each trembling flower
  They tinge with richer dyes.

Soon shall their genial influence call
  A thousand buds to day,
Which, waiting but their balmy fall,
  In hidden beauty lay.

[Page 8]

E'en now full many a blossom's bell
  With fragrance fills the shade;
And verdure clothes each grassy dell,
  In brighter tints arrayed.

But mark! what arch of varied hue
  From heaven to earth is bowed?
Haste, ere it vanish, haste to view
  The Rainbow in the cloud.

How bright its glory! there behold
  The emerald's verdant rays,
The topaz blends its hue of gold
  With the deep ruby's blaze.

Yet not alone to charm thy sight
  Was given the vision fair;
Gaze on that arch of colored light,
  And read God's mercy there.

It tells us that the mighty deep,
  Fast by th' Eternal chained,
No more o'er earth's domains shall sweep,
  Awful and unrestrained.

[Page 9]

It tells that seasons, heat and cold,
  Fixed by his sovereign will,
Shall, in their course, bid man behold
  Seed-time and harvest still;

That still the flower shall deck the field,
  When vernal zephyrs blow;
That still the vine its fruit will yield,
  When autumn sun-beams glow.

Then, child of that fair earth! which yet
  Smiles with each charm endowed,
Bless thou His name, whose mercy set
  The Rainbow in the cloud!

[Page 10]


THE Sun comes forth;each mountain height
Glows with a tinge of rosy light,
And flowers, that slumbered through the night,
  Their dewy leaves unfold;
A flood of splendor bursts on high,
And ocean's breast reflects a sky
  Of crimson and of gold.

Oh! thou art glorious, orb of day!
Exulting nations hail thy ray,
Creation swells a choral lay,
  To welcome thy return;
From thee all nature draws her hues,
Thy beams the insect's wings suffuse,
  And in the diamond burn.

Yet must thou fade;when earth and heaven
By fire and tempest shall be riven,
Thou, from thy sphere of radiance driven,
  Oh Sun! must fall at last;

[Page 11]

Another heaven, another earth,
Far other glory shall have birth,
  When all we see is past.

But He, who gave the word of might,
"Let there be light"and there was light,
Who bade thee chase the gloom of night,
  And beam, the world to bless;
For ever bright, for ever pure,
Alone unchanging shall endure,
  The Sun of Righteousness!

[Page 12]


GO! trace th' unnumbered streams, o'er earth
  That wind their devious course,
That draw from Alpine heights their birth,
  Deep vale, or cavern source.

Some by majestic cities glide,
  Proud scenes of man's renown,
Some lead their solitary tide,
  Where pathless forests frown.

Some calmly roll in golden sands,
  Where Afric's deserts lie;
Or spread, to clothe rejoicing lands
  With rich fertility.

These bear the bark, whose stately sail
  Exulting seems to swell;
While these, scarce rippled by a gale,
  Sleep in the lonely dell.

[Page 13]

Yet on, alike, though swift or slow
  Their various waves may sweep,
Through cities or through shades they flow
  To the same boundless deep.

Oh! thus, whate'er our path of life,
  Through sunshine or through gloom,
Through scenes of quiet or of strife,
  Its end is still the tomb.

The chief, whose mighty deeds we hail,
  The monarch throned on high,
The peasant in his native vale,
  All journey onto die!

But if Thy guardian care, my God!
  The pilgrim's course attend,
I will not fear the dark abode,
  To which my footsteps bend.

For thence thine all-redeeming Son,
  Who died, the world to save,
In light, in triumph, rose, and won
  The victory from the grave!

[Page 14]


The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work.
PSALM xix. 1.
NO cloud obscures the summer sky,
The moon in brightness walks on high,
And, set in azure, every star
Shines, like a gem of heaven, afar!

Child of the earth! oh! lift thy glance
To yon bright firmament's expanse;
The glories of its realm explore,
And gaze, and wonder, and adore!

Doth it not speak to every sense
The marvels of Omnipotence?
Seest thou not there th' Almighty name,
Inscribed in characters of flame?

[Page 15]

Count o'er those lamps of quenchless light,
That sparkle through the shades of night;
Behold them!can a mortal boast
To number that celestial host?

Mark well each little star, whose rays
In distant splendor meet thy gaze;
Each is a world by Him sustained,
Who from eternity hath reigned.

Each, shining not for earth alone,
Hath suns and planets of its own,
And beings, whose existence springs
From Him, th' all-powerful King of kings.

Haply, those glorious beings know
Nor stain of guilt, nor tear of woe;
But raising still th' adoring voice,
For ever in their God rejoice.

What then art thou, oh! child of clay!
Amid creation's grandeur, say?
E'en as an insect on the breeze,
E'en as a dew-drop, lost in seas!

[Page 16]

Yet fear thou not!the sovereign hand,
Which spread the ocean and the land,
And hung the rolling spheres in air,
Hath, e'en for thee, a Father's care!

Be thou at peace!th' all-seeing eye,
Pervading earth, and air, and sky,
The searching glance which none may flee,
Is still, in mercy, turned on thee.

[Page 17]


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
PSALM cvii. 23, 24.
HE that in venturous barks hath been
  A wanderer on the deep,
Can tell of many an awful scene,
  Where storms for ever sweep.

For many a fair, majestic sight
  Hath met his wandering eye,
Beneath the streaming northern light,
  Or blaze of Indian sky.

Go! ask him of the whirlpool's roar,
  Whose echoing thunder peals
Loud, as if rushed along the shore
  An army's chariot wheels;

[Page 18]

Of icebergs, floating o'er the main,
  Or fixed upon the coast,
Like glittering citadel or fane,
  'Mid the bright realms of frost;

Of coral rocks, from waves below
  In steep ascent that tower,
And fraught with peril, daily grow,
  Formed by an insect's power;

Of sea-fires, which at dead of night
  Shine o'er the tides afar,
And make th' expanse of ocean bright
  As heaven, with many a star.

Oh God! thy name they well may praise,
  Who to the deep go down,
And trace the wonders of thy ways,
  Where rocks and billows frown.

If glorious be that awful deep,
  No human power can bind,
What then art Thou, who bidst it keep
  Within its bounds confined!

[Page 19]

Let heaven and earth in praise unite,
  Eternal praise to Thee,
Whose word can rouse the tempest's might,
  Or still the raging sea!

[Page 20]


DEEP, fiery clouds o'ercast the sky,
  Dead stillness reigns in air,
There is not e'en a breeze, on high
  The gossamer to bear.

The woods are hushed, the waves at rest,
  The lake is dark and still,
Reflecting, on its shadowy breast,
  Each form of rock and hill.

The lime-leaf waves not in the grove,
  Nor rose-tree in the bower;
The birds have ceased their songs of love,
  Awed by the threatening hour.

'T is noon;yet nature's calm profound
  Seems as at midnight deep;
But hark! what peal of awful sound
  Breaks on creation's sleep?

[Page 21]

The thunder bursts!its rolling might
  Seems the firm hills to shake;
And in terrific splendor bright,
  The gathered lightnings break.

Yet fear not, shrink not thou, my child!
  Though by the bolt's descent
Were the tall cliffs in ruins piled,
  And the wide forests rent.

Doth not thy God behold thee still,
  With all-surveying eye?
Doth not his power all nature fill,
  Around, beneath, on high?

Know, hadst thou eagle-pinions free,
  To track the realms of air,
Thou couldst not reach a spot where He
  Would not be with thee there!

In the wide city's peopled towers,
  On the vast ocean's plains,
'Midst the deep woodland's loneliest bowers,
  Alike th' Almighty reigns!

[Page 22]

Then fear not, though the angry sky
  A thousand darts should cast;
Why should we tremble, e'en to die,
  And be with Him at last?

[Page 23]


Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God.
ST. LUKE, xii, 6.
TRIBES of the air! whose favored race
May wander through the realms of space,
  Free guests of earth and sky;
In form, in plumage, and in song,
What gifts of nature mark your throng
  With bright variety!

Nor differ less your forms, your flight,
Your dwellings hid from hostile sight,
  And the wild haunts ye love;
Birds of the gentle beak! * how dear
Your wood-note, to the wanderer's ear,
  In shadowy vale or grove!

* The Italians call all singing birds, Birds of the gentle beak.

[Page 24]

Far other scenes, remote, sublime,
Where swain or hunter may not climb,
  The mountain-eagle seeks;
Alone he reigns, a monarch there,
Scarce will the chamois' footstep dare
  Ascend his Alpine peaks.

Others there are, that make their home
Where the white billows roar and foam,
  Around th' o'erhanging rock;
Fearless they skim the angry wave,
Or sheltered in their sea-beat cave,
  The tempest's fury mock.

Where Afric's burning realm expands,
The ostrich haunts the desert sands,
  Parched by the blaze of day;
The swan, where northern rivers glide,
Through the tall reeds that fringe their tide,
  Floats graceful on her way.

The condor, where the Andes tower,
Spreads his broad wing of pride and power,
  And many a storm defies;

[Page 25]

Bright in the orient realms of morn,
All beauty's richest hues adorn
  The Bird of Paradise.

Some, amidst India's grove of palm,
And spicy forests breathing balm,
  Weave soft their pendent nest;
Some, deep in western wilds, display
Their fairy form and plumage gay,
  In rainbow colors drest.

Others no varied song may pour,
May boast no eagle-plume to soar,
  No tints of light may wear;
Yet, know, our Heavenly Father guides
The least of these, and well provides
  For each, with tenderest care.

Shall He not then thy guardian be?
Will not his aid extend to thee?
  Oh! safely may'st thou rest!
Trust in his love, and e'en should pain,
Should sorrow tempt thee to complain,
  Know, what He wills is best!

[Page 26]


THE Sky-lark, when the dews of morn
Hang tremulous on flower and thorn,
And violets round his nest exhale
Their fragrance on the early gale,
To the first sunbeam spreads his wings,
Buoyant with joy, and soars, and sings.

He rests not on the leafy spray,
To warble his exulting lay,
But high above the morning cloud
Mounts in triumphant freedom proud,
And swells, when nearest to the sky,
His notes of sweetest ecstacy.

Thus, my Creator! thus the more
My spirit's wing to Thee can soar,
The more she triumphs to behold
Thy love in all thy works unfold,
And bids her hymns of rapture be
Most glad, when rising most to Thee!

[Page 27]


WHEN twilight's grey and pensive hour
Brings the low breeze, and shuts the flower,
And bids the solitary star
Shine in pale beauty from afar;

When gathering shades the landscape veil,
And peasants seek their village-dale,
And mists from river-wave arise,
And dew in every blossom lies;

When evening's primrose opes, to shed
Soft fragrance round her grassy bed;
When glow-worms in the wood-walk light
Their lamp, to cheer the traveller's sight;

At that calm hour, so still, so pale,
Awakes the lonely Nightingale;
And from a hermitage of shade
Fills with her voice the forest-glade.

[Page 28]

And sweeter far that melting voice,
Than all which through the day rejoice;
And still shall bard and wanderer love
The twilight music of the grove.

Father in Heaven! oh! thus when day
With all its cares hath passed away,
And silent hours waft peace on earth,
And hush the louder strains of mirth;

Thus may sweet songs of praise and prayer
To Thee my spirit's offering bear;
Yon star, my signal, set on high,
For vesper-hymns of piety.

So may thy mercy and thy power
Protect me through the midnight hour;
And balmy sleep and visions blest
Smile on thy servant's bed of rest.

[Page 29]


WHEN the soft breath of Spring goes forth
Far o'er the mountains of the North,
How soon those wastes of dazzling snow
With life, and bloom, and beauty glow.

Then bursts the verdure of the plains,
Then break the streams from icy chains;
And the glad rein-deer seeks no more
Amidst deep snows his mossy store.

Then the dark pine-wood's boughs are seen
Arrayed in tints of living green;
And roses, in their brightest dyes,
By Lapland's founts and streams arise.

Thus, in a moment, from the gloom
And the cold fetters of the tomb,
Thus shall the blest Redeemer's voice
Call forth his servants to rejoice.

[Page 30]

For He, whose word is truth, hath said,
His power to life shall wake the dead,
And summon those he loves, on high,
To "put on immortality!"

Then, all its transient sufferings o'er,
On wings of light, the soul shall soar,
Exulting, to that blest abode,
Where tears of sorrow never flowed.

[Page 31]


Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
PRAISE ye the Lord! on every height
  Songs to his glory raise!
Ye angel-hosts, ye stars of light,
  Join in immortal praise!

Oh! heavens of heavens! let praise far-swelling
  From all your orbs be sent!
Join in the strain, ye waters, dwelling
  Above the firmament!

For His the word which gave you birth,
  And majesty, and might;
Praise to the Highest from the earth,
  And let the deeps unite!

[Page 32]

Oh! fire and vapor, hail and snow,
  Ye servants of His will!
Oh! stormy winds, that only blow
  His mandates to fulfil;

Mountains and rocks, to heaven that rise;
  Fair cedars of the wood;
Creatures of life, that wing the skies,
  Or track the plains for food;

Judges of nations! kings, whose hand
  Waves the proud sceptre high!
Oh! youths and virgins of the land,
  Oh! age and infancy!

Praise ye His name, to whom alone
  All homage should be given;
Whose glory, from th' eternal throne
  Spreads wide o'er earth and heaven!

[Page 33]



THOU wak'st from happy sleep to play
  With bounding heart, my boy!
Before thee lies a long bright day
  Of summer and of joy.

Thou hast no heavy thought or dream
  To cloud thy fearless eye;
Long be it thuslife's early stream
  Should still reflect the sky.

Yet ere the cares of life lie dim
  On thy young spirit's wings,
Now in thy morn forget not Him
  From whom each pure thought springs!

[Page 34]

So in the onward vale of tears,
  Where'er thy path may be,
When strength hath bowed to evil years
  He will remember thee.

[Page 35]



WHERE sucks the bee now?Summer is flying;
Leaves on the grass-plot faded are lying;
Violets are gone from the grassy dell,
With the cowslip-cups, where the fairies dwell;
The rose from the garden hath passed away
Yet happy, fair boy! is thy natal day.

For love bids it welcome, the love which hath smiled
Ever around thee, my gentle child!
Watching thy footsteps, and guarding thy bed,
And pouring out joy on thy sunny head.
Roses may vanish, but this will stay
Happy and bright is thy natal day.


Editorial Credits

Provenance of the Text.

The copytext for this on-line edition is Hymns on the Works of Nature, for the Use of Children. published by Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little and Wilkins in 1827. A British edition was published in the U.K. in 1833. The proof copy belongs to the Nesbitt Special Collection of the Library of the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. A scanned image of the Title Page can be seen on-line, along with a Sample Page showing the formatting and footnoting of the original copytext.

The original text did not include a table of contents, but proceeded directly from the introductory pages to the poems. For convenience in formatting and linking to individual poems, a contents page has been added.

Otherwise, page breaks and page numbering correspond to the original text. Where pages were numbered, page breaks have been indicated through the use of text, by placing the notation [Page xx] at the start of each numbered page from the original text. Numbering shown corresponds to the page numbering of the original text: where no numbers were given, [Page] is shown instead.

Diacriticals, italics, and capitalization have been recreated to correspond to the original text. Only one footnote appeared in the book; it has been reproduced as originally typeset.

Editorial Credits