A Poem of Felicia Hemans in The Forget Me Not, 1826/Evening Prayer at a Girls’ School
Designed by H. SingletonEngraved by Chas, Heath
EVENING PRAYER AT A GIRLS' SCHOOL.
By Mrs. HEMANS.
Now in thy youth, beseech of Him
Who giveth, upbraiding not,
That his light in thy heart become not dim,
And his love be unforgot;
And thy God, in the darkest of days, will be
Greenness, and beauty, and strength, to thee.
Hush! 'tis a holy hour!—the quiet room
Seems like a temple, while yon soft lamp sheds
A faint and starry radiance, through the gloom
And the sweet stillness, down on bright young heads,
With all their clustering locks, untouch'd by care,
And bow'd—as flowers are bow'd with night—in prayer.
Gaze on, 'tis lovely!—childhood's lip and cheek,
Mantling beneath its earnest brow of thought!
Gaze, yet what seest thou in those fair and meek
And fragile things, as but for sunshine wrought?
—Thou seest what grief must nurture for the sky,
What death must fashion for eternity!
O joyous creatures! that will sink to rest
Lightly, when those pure orisons are done,
As birds with slumber's honey-dew oppress'd,
Midst the dim folded leaves, at set of sun;
Lift up your hearts! tho' yet no sorrow lies
Dark in the summer-heaven of those clear eyes.
Though fresh within your breasts th' untroubled springs
Of hope make melody where'er ye tread,
And o'er your sleep bright shadows, from the wings
Of spirits visiting but youth, be spread;
Yet in those flute-like voices, mingling low,
Is woman's tenderness—how soon her woe!
Her lot is on you!—silent, tears to weep,
And patient smiles to wear through suffering's hour,
And sumless riches, from affection's deep,
To pour on broken reeds—a wasted shower!
And to make idols, and to find them clay,
And to bewail that worship—therefore pray!
Her lot is on you!—to be found untir'd,
Watching the stars out by the bed of pain,
With a pale cheek, and yet a brow inspir'd,
And a true heart of hope, though hope be vain!
Meekly to bear with wrong, to cheer decay,
And, oh! to love through all things—therefore pray!
And take the thought of this calm vesper-time,
With its low murmuring sounds and silvery light,
On through the dark days fading from their prime,
As a sweet dew to keep your souls from blight!
Earth will forsake—Oh! happy to have given
Th' unbroken heart's first fragrance unto Heaven!