A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Memorial Pillar" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 155-159.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


[Page 155] 

THE MEMORIAL PILLAR.


On the road-side between Penrith and Appleby, stands a small pillar, with this inscription:–"This pillar was erected in the year 1656, by Ann, Countess Dowager of Pembroke, for a memorial of her last parting, in this place, with her good and pious mother, Margaret, Countess Dowager of Cumberland, on the 2d April, 1616."–See Notes to the "Pleasures of Memory."


[Page 156] 

THE MEMORIAL PILLAR.


Hast thou thro' Eden's wild-wood vales, pursued
Each mountain-scene, magnificently rude,
Nor with attention's lifted eye, revered
That modest stone, by pious Pembroke rear'd,
Which still records, beyond the pencil's power,
The silent sorrows of a parting hour?
                                     ROGERS.

MOTHER and child! whose blending tears
  Have sanctified the place,
Where, to the love of many years,
  Was given one last embrace;
Oh! ye have shrin'd a spell of power,
Deep in your record of that hour!

[Page 157] 

A spell to waken solemn thought,
  A still, small under-tone,
That calls back days of childhood, fraught
  With many a treasure gone;
And smites, perchance, the hidden source,
Tho' long untroubled–of remorse.

For who, that gazes on the stone
  Which marks your parting spot,
Who but a mother's love hath known,
  The one love changing not?
Alas! and haply learn'd its worth
First with the sound of "Earth to earth?"

But thou, high-hearted daughter! thou,
  O'er whose bright honour'd head,
Blessings and tears of holiest flow,
  Ev'n here were fondly shed,–
Thou from the passion of thy grief,
In its full burst, couldst draw relief.

[Page 158] 

For, oh! tho' painful be th' excess,
  The might wherewith it swells,
In nature's fount no bitterness
  Of nature's mingling, dwells;
And thou hadst not, by wrong or pride,
Poison'd the free and healthful tide.

But didst thou meet the face no more
  Which thy young heart first knew?
And all–was all in this world o'er,
  With ties thus close and true?
It was!–On earth no other eye
Could give thee back thine infancy.

No other voice could pierce the maze
  Where, deep within thy breast,
The sounds and dreams of other days
  With memory lay at rest;
No other smile to thee could bring
A gladd'ning, like the breath of spring.

[Page 159] 

Yet, while thy place of weeping still
  Its lone memorial keeps,
While on thy name, midst wood and hill,
  The quiet sunshine sleeps,
And touches, in each graven line,
Of reverential thought a sign;

Can I, while yet these tokens wear
  The impress of the dead,
Think of the love embodied there,
  As of a vision fled?
A perish'd thing, the joy and flower
And glory of one earthly hour?

Not so!–I will not bow me so,
  To thoughts that breathe despair!
A loftier faith we need below,
  Life's farewell words to bear.
Mother and child!–Your tears are past–
Surely your hearts have met at last.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom