A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Last Song of Sappho" by Felicia Hemans (1793 - 1835)
This Edition: Hemans, Felicia Dorothea. The Poetical Works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans London: Oxford University Press, 1914. pp. 318-319.

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[Suggested by a beautiful sketch, the design of the younger Westmacott. It represents Sappho sitting on a rock above the sea, with her Iyre cast at her feet. There is a desolate grace about the whole figure, which seems penetrated with the feeling of utter abandonment.]

  SOUND on, thou dark unslumbering sea!
    My dirge is in thy moan;
  My spirit finds response in thee,
To its own ceaseless cry'Alone, alone !'

  Yet send me back one other word,
    Ye tones that never cease !
  Oh ! let your secret caves be stirr'd,
And say, dark waters! will ye give me peace?

  Away! my weary soul hath sought
    In vain one echoing sigh,
  One answer to consuming thought
In human heartsand will the wave reply ?

  Sound on, thou dark, unslumbering sea!
    Sound in thy scorn and pride !
  I ask not, alien world, from thee,
What my own kindred earth hath still denied.

  And yet I loved that earth so well,
    With all its lovely things!
  Was it for this the death-wind fell
On my rich lyre, and quench'd its living strings?

  Let them lie silent at my feet !
    Since broken even as they,
  The heart whose music made them sweet,
Hath pour'd on desert-sands its wealth away.

  Yet glory's light hath touch'd my name,
    The laurel-wreath is mine
  With a lone heart, a weary frame
O restless deep ! I come to make them thine !

  Give to that crown, that burning crown,
    Place in thy darkest hold!
  Bury my anguish, my renown,
With hidden wrecks, lost gems, and wasted gold.

  Thou sea-bird on the billow's crest,
    Thou hast thy love, thy home;
  They wait thee in the quiet nest,
And I, the unsought, unwatch'd-forI too come!

  I, with this winged nature fraught,
    These visions wildly free,
  This boundless love, this fiery thought
Alone I comeoh ! give me peace, dark sea!

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