A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Funeral Day of Sir Walter Scott" by Felicia Hemans (1793 - 1835)
This Edition: Hemans, Felicia Dorothea. The Poetical Works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans London: Oxford University Press, 1914. pp. 592-594.

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The Funeral Day of Sir Walter Scott

                            Many an eye
May wail the dimming of our shining star.SHAKESPEARE.

     A GLORIOUS voice hath ceased!
Mournfully, reverentlythe funeral chant
Breathe reverently! There is a dreamy sound,
A hollow murmur of the dying year,
In the deep woods. Let it be wild and sad!
A more Aeolian melancholy tone
Than ever wail'd o'er bright things perishing!
For that is passing from the darken'd land,
Which the green summer will not bring us back
Though all her songs return. The funeral chant
Breathe reverently!They bear the mighty forth,
The kingly ruler in the realms of mind
They bear him through the household paths, the groves,
Where every tree had music of its own
To his quick ear of knowledge taught by love
And he is silent!Past the living stream
They bear him now; the stream, whose kindly voice
On alien shores his true heart burn'd to hear
And he is silent! O'er the heathery hills,
Which his own soul had mantled with a light
Richer than autumn's purple, now they move
And he is silent!he, whose flexile lips
Were but unseal'd, and lo! a thousand forms,
From every pastoral glen and fern-clad height,
In glowing life upsprang:Vassal and chief,
Rider and steed, with shout and bugle-peal,
Fast rushing through the brightly troubled air,
Like the wild huntsman's band. And still they live,
To those fair scenes imperishably bound,
And, from the mountain mist still flashing by,
Startle the wanderer who hath listen'd there
To the seer's voice: phantoms of colour'd thought,
Surviving him who raised.O eloquence!
O power, whose breathings thus could wake the dead!
Who shall wake thee? lord of the buried past!
And art thou thereto those dim nations join'd,
Thy subject-host so long?The wand is dropp'd
The bright lamp broken, which the gifted hand
Touch'd, and the genii came!Sing reverently
The funeral chant!The mighty is borne home
And who shall be his mourners?Youth and age,
For each hath felt his magiclove and grief,
For he hath communed with the heart of each:
Yesthe free spirit of humanity
May join the august procession, for to him
Its mysteries have been tributary things,
And all its accents known:from field or wave,
Never was conqueror on his battle bier,
By the vail'd banner and the muffled drum,
And the proud drooping of the crested head,
More nobly follow'd home.The last abode,
The voiceless dwelling of the bard is reach'd:
A still majestic spot: girt solemnly
With all the imploring beauty of decay;
A stately couch 'midst ruins! meet for him
With his bright fame to rest in, as a king
Of other days, laid lonely with his sword
Beneath his head. Sing reverently the chant
Over the honour'd grave!the grave!oh, say
Rather the shrine!An alter for the love,
The light, soft pilgrim steps, the votive wreaths
Of years unborna place where leaf and flower,
By that which dies not of the sovereign dead,
Shall be made holy thingswhere every weed
Shall have its portion of the inspiring gift
From buried glory breathed. And now, what strain,
Making victorious melody ascend
High above sorrow's dirge, befits the tomb
Where he that sway'd the nations thus is laid
The crown'd of men?
                    A lowly, lowly, song.

Lowly and solemn be
Thy children's cry to Thee,
    Father divine!
A hymn of suppliant breath,
Owning that life and death
    Alike are Thine!

A spirit on its way,
Sceptred the earth to sway,
    From Thee was sent:
Now call'st Thou back Thine own
Hence is that radiance flown
    To earth but lent.

Watching in breathless awe,
The bright head bow'd we saw,
    Beneath Thy hand!
Fill'd by one hope, one fear,
Now o'er a brother's bier,
    Weeping we stand.

How hath he pass'd!the lord
Of each deep bosom chord,
    To meet Thy sight,
Unmantled and alone,
On Thy bless'd mercy thrown,
    O Infinite!

So, from his harvest home,
Must the tired peasant come;
    So, in one trust,
Leader and king must yield
The naked soul, reveal'd
    To Thee, All Just!

The sword of many of a fight
What then shall be its might?
    The lofty lay,
That rush'd on eagle wing
What shall its memory bring?
    What hope, what stay?

O Father! in that hour,
When earth all succouring power
    Shall disavow;
When spear, and shield, and crown,
In faintness are cast down
    Sustain us, Thou!

By Him who bow'd to take
The death-cup for our sake,
    The thorn, the rod;
From whom the last dismay
Was not to pass away
    Aid us, O God!

Tremblers beside the grave,
We call on thee to save.
    Father divine!
Hear, hear our suppliant breath,
Keep us, in life and death,
    Thine, only Thine!

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