A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Grave of a Poetess" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 160-163.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


[Page 160] 

THE GRAVE OF A POETESS. *


"Ne me plaignez pas–si vous saviez
Combien de peines ce tombeau m'a epargnées!"

I STOOD beside thy lowly grave;
   Spring-odours breath'd around,
And music, in the river-wave,
   Pass'd with a lulling sound.

[Page 161] 

All happy things that love the sun,
   In the bright air glanc'd by,
And a glad murmur seem'd to run
   Thro' the soft azure sky.

Fresh leaves were on the ivy-bough
   That fring'd the ruins near;
Young voices were abroad–but thou
   Their sweetness couldst not hear.

And mournful grew my heart for thee,
   Thou in whose woman's mind
The ray that brightens earth and sea,
   The light of song was shrined.

Mournful, that thou wert slumbering low,
   With a dread curtain drawn
Between thee and the golden glow
   Of this world's vernal dawn.

[Page 162] 

Parted from all the song and bloom
   Thou wouldst have lov'd so well,
To thee the sunshine round thy tomb
   Was but a broken spell.

The bird, the insect on the wing,
   In their bright reckless play,
Might feel the flush and life of spring,–
   And thou wert pass'd away!

But then, ev'n then, a nobler thought
   O'er my vain sadness came;
Th' immortal spirit woke, and wrought
   Within my thrilling frame.

Surely on lovelier things, I said,
   Thou must have look'd ere now,
Than all that round our pathway shed
   Odours and hues below.

[Page 163] 

The shadows of the tomb are here,
   Yet beautiful is earth!
What see'st thou then where no dim fear,
   No haunting dream hath birth?

Here a vain love to passing flowers
   Thou gav'st–but where thou art,
The sway is not with changeful hours,
  There love and death must part.

Thou hast left sorrow in thy song,
   A voice not loud, but deep!
The glorious bowers of earth among,
   How often didst thou weep!

Where couldst thou fix on mortal ground
   Thy tender thoughts and high?–
Now peace the woman's heart hath found,
   And joy the poet's eye.


[Page 160]

* Extrinsic interest has lately attached to the fine scenery of Woodstock, near Kilkenny, on account of its having been the last residence of the author of Psyche. Her grave is one of many in the church-yard of the village. The river runs smoothly by. The ruins of an ancient abbey that have been partially converted into a church, reverently throw their mantle of tender shadow over it.–Tales by the O'Hara Family.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom