A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Departed" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 270-273.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 270] 


                 Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world–with kings,
The powerful of the earth–the wise–the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre.

AND shrink ye from the way
  To the spirit's distant shore?–
Earth's mightiest men, in arm'd array,
  Are thither gone before.

The warrior kings, whose banner
  Flew far as eagles fly,
They are gone where swords avail them not,
  From the feast of victory.

[Page 271] 

And the seers who sat of yore
  By orient palm or wave,
They have pass'd with all their starry lore–
  Can ye still fear the grave?

We fear! we fear!–the sunshine
  Is joyous to behold,
And we reck not of the buried kings,
  Nor the awful seers of old.

Ye shrink!–the bards whose lays
  Have made your deep hearts burn,
They have left the sun, and the voice of praise,
  For the land whence none return.

And the beautiful, whose record
  Is the verse that cannot die,
They too are gone, with their glorious bloom,
  From the love of human eye.

[Page 272] 

Would ye not join that throng
  Of the earth's departed flowers,
And the masters of the mighty song
  In their far and fadeless bowers?

Those songs are high and holy,
  But they vanquish not our fear;
Not from our path those flowers are gone–
  We fain would linger here!

Linger then yet awhile,
  As the last leaves on the bough!–
Ye have lov'd the light of many a smile,
  That is taken from you now.

There have been sweet singing voices
  In your walks, that now are still;
There are seats left void in your earthly homes,
  Which none again may fill.

[Page 273] 

Soft eyes are seen no more,
  That made spring-time in your heart;
Kindred and friends are gone before–
  And ye still fear to part?

We fear not now, we fear not!
  Though the way thro' darkness bends;
Our souls are strong to follow them,
  Our own familiar friends!


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom