"To the Memory of My Lamented Father." by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
Oh, sire, rever'd ! ador'd !
Was it the ruthless tongue of DEATH,
That whisp'ring to my pensive ear,
Pronounc'd the fatal word
That bath'd my cheek with many a tear,
And stopp'd awhile my gasping breath ?
' He lives no more !
Far on a foreign shore,
His honour'd dust a laurell'd grave receives,
While his immortal soul in realms celestial lives ! '
Oh ! my lov'd sire, farewell !
Though we are doom'd on earth to meet no more,
Still mem'ry lives, and still I must adore !
And long this throbbing heart shall mourn,
Though thou to these sad eyes wilt ne'er return !
Yet shall remembrance dwell
On all thy sorrows through life's stormy sea,
When fate's resistless whirlwinds shed
Unnumber'd tempests round thy head,
The varying ills of human destiny !
Yet, with a soul sublimely brave,
Didst thou endure the dashing wave;
Still buffeting the billows rude,
By all the shafts of woe, undaunted, unsubdued !
Through a long life of rugged care,
'Twas thine to steer a steady course !
'Twas thine misfortune's frowns to bear,
And stem the wayward torrent's force !
And as thy persevering mind
The toilsome path of fame pursued,
'Twas thine, amidst its flow'rs to find
The wily snake–Ingratitude !
Yet vainly did th' insidious reptile strive
On thee its poisons dire to fling;
Above its reach, thy laurel still shall thrive,
Unconscious of the treach'rous sting !
'Twas thine to toil through length'ning years,
Where low'ring night absorbs the spheres !
O'er icy seas to bend thy way,
Where frozen Greenland rears its head,
Where dusky vapours shroud the day,
And wastes of flaky snow the stagnate ocean spread
'Twas thine amidst the smoke of war,
To view, unmov'd, grim-fronted Death;
Where Fate, enthron'd in sulphur'd car,
Shrunk the pale legions with her scorching breath !
While all around her, bath'd in blood,
Iberia's haughty sons plung'd lifeless 'midst the flood.
Now on the wings of meditation borne,
Let fond remembrance turn, and turn to mourn;
Slowly, and sad, her pinions sweep
O'er the rough bosom of the boist'rous deep
To that disastrous, fatal coast
Where, on the foaming billows tost,
Imperial Catherine's navies rode;
And war's inviting banners wide
Wav'd hostile o'er the glitt'ring tide,
That with exulting conquest glow'd !
For there–oh sorrow, check the tear !–
There, round departed valour's bier,
The sacred drops of kindred virtue 1 shone !
Proud monuments of worth ! whose base
Fame on her starry hill shall place;
There to endure, admir'd, sublime !
E'en when the mould'ring wing of time
Shall scatter to the winds huge pyramids of stone !
Oh ! gallant soul ! farewell !
Though doom'd this transient orb to leave,
Thy daughter's heart, whose grief no words can tell
Shall, in its throbbing centre, bid thee live !
While from its crimson fount shall flow
The silent tear of ling'ring grief;
The gem sublime ! that scorns relief,
Nor vaunting shines, with ostentatious woe !
Though thou art vanish'd from these eyes,
Still from thy sacred dust shall rise
A wreath that mocks the polish'd grace
Of sculptured bust, or tuneful praise;
While Fame shall weeping point the place
Where Valour's dauntless son decays !
Unseen to cherish mem'ry's source divine,
Oh ! parent of my life, shall still be mine !
And thou shalt, from thy blissful state,
Awhile avert thy raptur'd gaze,
To own, that 'midst this wild'ring maze,
The flame of filial love defies the blast of fate !