TO MY MOTHER.
The flowers of romance that I cherished, Around me lie withered and dead; The stars of my youth’s shining heaven, Were but meteors whose brightness misled; And the day-dreams of life’s vernal morning, Like the mists of the morning have fled.
But one flower I have found still unwithered; Like the night-scented jasmin it gleams; And beyond where the fallen stars vanished, One light pure and hallowed still beams; One love I have found, deep and changeless, As that I have yearned for in dreams.
Too often the links have been broken, That bound me in friendship’s bright chain; Too often has fancy deceived me To blind or to charm me again; And I sigh o’er my young heart’s illusions, With a sorrow I would were disdain.
But now, as the clouds return earthward, From the cold and void ether above; As on pinions all drooping and weary, O’er the waste flew the wandering dove; O’er the tide of the world’s troubled waters, I return to the ark of thy love.
Here, at length, my tired spirit reposes; Here my heart’s strongest tendrils entwine; Here its warmest and deepest affections It lays on earth’s holiest shrine: Dearest mother, receive the devotion Of the life thou hast given from thine.
Here, pressed to thy bosom, the tempests That sweep over life’s stormy sea, Have beat, in their impotent fury,— They were winged with no terror for me; If I shrank from the fearful encounter, If I trembled—it was but for thee.
The spirit of Song that lies buried In silence or sleep in the breast, Unlike the wild music of Memnon, Is charmed by the sunshine to rest; In the clash of contending emotions Are its harmonies only expressed.
When, at moments, my soul has been shaken, In the strife with the world’s rushing throng; Or moved by some holier impulse, As borne by its current along; This spirit aroused, has responded, And uttered these fragments of song.
I know they are but passing echoes, For which time has no place and no name; But hereafter, in loftier numbers, Might I seek for the guerdon of fame— Might I gather its evergreen laurels— I would twine them around thy loved name.
But I mark now a pallor that deepens, And spreads o’er thy brow and thy cheek; And, filled with a fearful foreboding, My strong heart grows nerveless and weak; And shrinks back appalled from the anguish, The blow beneath which it would break.
Oh, leave me not yet, gentle spirit, Though our loved and our lost, gone before, In the Better Land watch for thy coming, And call thee away to that shore; These clasped arms are strong to detain thee— Leave, leave me not yet, I implore!
Oh God! let this cup but pass from me, When thy bitterest draught would be thrown; Not yet those sweet ties rend asunder Heart with heart, life with life that have grown! Not yet can I bear life’s great burden, And tread its dark wine-press alone.