A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Effigies" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 260-263.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


[Page 260] 

THE EFFIGIES.


Der rasche Kampf verewigt einen Mann:
Er falle gleich, so preiset ihn das Lied.
Allein die Thränen, die unendlichen
Der überbliebnen, der verlass'nen Frau,
Zählt keine Nachwelt.
                                            GOETHE.

WARRIOR! whose image on thy tomb,
  With shield and crested head,
Sleeps proudly in the purple gloom
  By the stain'd window shed;
The records of thy name and race
  Have faded from the stone,
Yet, through a cloud of years, I trace
  What thou hast been and done.

[Page 261] 

A banner, from its flashing spear,
  Flung out o'er many a fight;
A war-cry ringing far and clear,
  And strong to turn the flight;
An arm that bravely bore the lance
  On for the holy shrine;
A haughty heart and a kingly glance–
  Chief! were not these things thine?

A lofty place where leaders sate
  Around the council-board;
In festive halls a chair of state
  When the blood-red wine was pour'd;
A name that drew a prouder tone
  From herald, harp, and bard;–
Surely these things were all thine own,–
  So hadst thou thy reward.

[Page 262] 

Woman! whose sculptur'd form at rest
  By the armed knight is laid,
With meek hands folded o'er a breast
  In matron robes array'd;
What was thy tale?–Oh! gentle mate
  Of him, the bold and free,
Bound unto his victorious fate,
  What bard hath sung of thee?

He woo'd a bright and burning star–
  Thine was the void, the gloom,
The straining eye that follow'd far
  His fast-receding plume;
The heart-sick listening while his steed
  Sent echoes on the breeze;
The pang–but when did Fame take heed
  Of griefs obscure as these?

[Page 263] 

Thy silent and secluded hours
  Thro' many a lonely day,
While bending o'er thy broider'd flowers,
  With spirit far away;
Thy weeping midnight prayers for him
  Who fought on Syrian plains,
Thy watchings till the torch grew dim–
  These fill no minstrel strains.

A still, sad life was thine!–long years
  With tasks unguerdon'd fraught,
Deep, quiet love, submissive tears,
  Vigils of anxious thought;
Prayer at the cross in fervour pour'd,
  Alms to the pilgrim given–
Oh! happy, happier than thy lord,
  In that lone path to heaven!

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom