A Celebration of Women Writers

"Mozart's Requiem" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 305-309.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom



A short time before the death of Mozart, a stranger of remarkable appearance, and dressed in deep mourning, called at his house, and requested him to prepare a Requiem, in his best style, for the funeral of a distinguished person. The sensitive imagination of the composer immediately seized upon the circumstance as an omen of his own fate; and the nervous anxiety with which he laboured to fulfil the task, had the effect of realizing his impression. He died within a few days of completing this magnificent piece of music, which was performed at his interment.

[Page 306] 


These birds of Paradise but long to flee
Back to their native mansion.
                       Prophecy of Dante

    A REQUIEM!–and for whom!
    For beauty in its bloom?
For valour fall'n?–a broken rose or sword?
    A dirge for king or chief,
    With pomp of stately grief,
Banner, and torch, and waving plume deplor'd?

    Not so, it is not so!
    The warning voice I know,
From other worlds a strange mysterious tone;
    A solemn funeral air
    It call'd me to prepare,
And my heart answer'd secretly–my own!

[Page 307] 

    One more then, one more strain,
    In links of joy and pain,
Mighty the troubled spirit to inthrall!
    And let me breathe my dower
    Of passion and of power
Full into that deep lay–the last of all!

    The last!–and I must go
    From this bright world below,
This realm of sunshine, ringing with sweet sound!
    Must leave its festal skies,
    With all their melodies,
That ever in my breast glad echoes found!

    Yet have I known it long:
    Too restless and too strong
Within this clay hath been th' o'ermastering flame;
    Swift thoughts, that came and went,
    Like torrents o'er me sent,
Have shaken, as a reed, my thrilling frame.

[Page 308] 

    Like perfumes on the wind
    Which none may stay or bind,
The beautiful comes floating thro' my soul;
    I strive with yearnings vain,
    The spirit to detain
Of the deep harmonies that past me roll!

    Therefore disturbing dreams
    Trouble the secret streams
And founts of music that o'erflow my breast;
    Something far more divine
    Than may on earth be mine,
Haunts my worn heart, and will not let me rest.

    Shall I then fear the tone
    That breathes from worlds unknown?–
Surely these feverish aspirations there
    Shall grasp their full desire,
    And this unsettled fire,
Burn calmly, brightly, in immortal air.

[Page 309] 

    One more then, one more strain;
    To earthly joy and pain
A rich, and deep, and passionate farewell!
    I pour each fervent thought
    With fear, hope, trembling, fraught,
Into the notes that o'er my dust shall swell.


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom