A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Spanish Chapel" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 208-212.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


[Page 208] 

THE SPANISH CHAPEL.*


Weep not for those whom the veil of the tomb,
  In life's early morning, hath hid from our eyes,
Ere sin threw a veil o'er the spirit's young bloom,
  Or earth had profan'd what was born for the skies.
                                                                       MOORE.

I MADE a mountain-brook my guide
  Thro' a wild Spanish glen,
And wandered, on its grassy side,
  Far from the homes of men.

It lured me with a singing tone,
  And many a sunny glance,
To a green spot of beauty lone,
  A haunt for old romance.

[Page 209] 

A dim and deeply-bosom'd grove
  Of many an aged tree,
Such as the shadowy violets love,
  The fawn and forest-bee.

The darkness of the chestnut bough
  There on the waters lay,
The bright stream reverently below,
  Check'd its exulting play;

And bore a music all subdued,
  And led a silvery sheen,
On thro' the breathing solitude
  Of that rich leafy scene.

For something viewlessly around
  Of solemn influence dwelt,
In the soft gloom and whispery sound,
  Not to be told, but felt;

[Page 210] 

While sending forth a quiet gleam
  Across the wood's repose,
And o'er the twilight of the stream,
  A lowly chapel rose.

A pathway to that still retreat
  Thro' many a myrtle wound,
And there a sight–how strangely sweet!
  My steps in wonder bound.

For on a brilliant bed of flowers,
  Even at the threshold made,
As if to sleep thro' sultry hours,
  A young fair child was laid.

To sleep?–oh! ne'er on childhood's eye,
  And silken lashes press'd,
Did the warm living slumber lie,
  With such a weight of rest!

[Page 211] 

Yet still a tender crimson glow
  Its cheek's pure marble dyed–
'Twas but the light's faint streaming flow
  Thro' roses heap'd beside.

I stoop'd–the smooth round arm was chill,
  The soft lip's breath was fled,
And the bright ringlets hung so still–
  The lovely child was dead!

"Alas!" I cried, "fair faded thing!
  Thou hast wrung bitter tears,
And thou hast left a wo, to cling
  Round yearning hearts for years!"

But then a voice came sweet and low–
  I turn'd, and near me sate
A woman with a mourner's brow,
  Pale, yet not desolate.

[Page 212] 

And in her still, clear, matron face,
  All solemnly serene,
A shadow'd image I could trace
  Of that young slumberer's mien.

"Stranger! thou pitiest me," she said,
  With lips that faintly smil'd,
"As here I watch beside my dead,
  My fair and precious child.

"But know, the time-worn heart may be
  By pangs in this world riven,
Keener than theirs who yield, like me,
  An angel thus to Heaven!"


[Page 208]

* Suggested by a scene beautifully described in the "Recollections of the Peninsula."

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom