The Forlorn Hope (Hall)/Poems/A Love-Letter to my Wife

A LOVE-LETTER

TO MY WIFE.

Dear heart! all happy thoughts I bring
To thee, upon this morn of spring;
When laughing health is in the gale,
And sweet birds sing on every tree,
While Nature, upon hill and dale,
Prepares a welcome for the bee.

Now earth rejoices, glad and gay,
O'er wearied winter, passed away;
And hope is like yon cloudless sky,
To which nor shade nor shower belong:
I sigh—but not with grief I sigh—
As thoughts of thee breathe forth in song.

If I would learn the poet's skill
To make my words obey my will,
What theme should, next to Nature, warm?
I think not long that theme to find—
The beauty of thy face and form—
The beauty of thy heart and mind?

Yes—beauty! though it may not be
Like this young morning, fresh and free;
But, rather, like the rising day—
The day that rises, while I write—
Too early to suggest decay,
Too warm to bid me think of night.

Yes—beauty in that happy face
The husband-lover still can trace;
Goodness, and gentleness, and truth,
May live to mock at change and time;
They were the graces of thy youth—
They are the graces of thy prime!

We've toil'd together, side by side,
Proud—yet it was no selfish pride—
That toil brought honour if no wealth;
Our hearts have gather'd little rust;
But ours are peace, and hope, and health,
And mutual love, and mutual trust!

Companion, counsel, friend, and wife,
Through twenty years of wedded life!
Dear love, sweet heart—why not address
Warm words to thee—my hope and pride?
I have not lived to love thee less
Than when I hail'd a fair young bride.'

Ah! let me think how deep a debt,
Sweet friend, dear wife, I owe thee yet;
In toil, in trouble, weak and ill,
Thy zealous care, thy active thought,
Thy spirit—meekly trusting still—
Calm'd the hot pulse and brain o'erwrought.

I gave to thee a humble name,
Which thou, dear wife, hast given to fame;
And surely 'tis no idle boast
That many laud and flatter thee;
But when the world hath praised thee most,
Thy woman's heart was most with me!

Years of success have taught thee this,—
Dear wife, that duty leads to bliss;
'Tis thine to show to those who toil,
That love can make all labour light;
That fame and favour may not spoil
The mind that thinks and acts aright!

'Tis thine to prove that strength of mind
May work, with woman's grace combined;
To show how Nature's debts are paid
In studies small that sweeten life;
And how the loftiest thoughts may aid
The duties of a loving wife.

Ah! more than twenty years ago,
I hoped, where now I feel and know!
Older thou art—yet I can see
No change impair thy cheek and brow,
No early beauty fade from thee;—
And am I less a lover now?