My Mother's Grave
Oh rise, and sit in soft attire! Wait but to know my soul's desire! I'd call thee back to earthly days, To cheer thee in a thousand ways! Ask but this heart for monument, And mine shall be a large content! A crown of brightest stars to thee! How did thy spirit wait for me, And nurse thy waning light, in faith That I would stand 'twixt thee and death! Then tarry on thy bowing shore, Tlll I have asked thy sorrows o'er! I came not, and I cry to save Thy life from the forgetful grave One day, that I may well declare How I have thought of all thy care, And love thee more than I have done, And make thy days with gladness run. I'd tell thee where my youth has been, Of perils past, of glories seen; I'd tell thee all my youth has done, And ask of things to choose and shun. And smile at all thy needless fears, But bow before thy solemn tears. Come, walk with me, and see fair earth, And men's glad ways; and join their mirth! Ah me! is this a bitter jest? What right have I to break thy rest? Well hast thou done thy worldly task, Nothing hast thou of me to ask. Men wonder till I pass away, They think not but of useless clay: Alas for Age, that this should be! But I have other thoughts of thee; And I would wade thy dusty grave, To kiss the head I cannot save. Oh for life's power, that I might see Thy visage swelling to be free! Come near, oh burst that earthy cloud, And meet me, meet me, lowly bowed! Alas! in corded stiffness pent, Darkly I guess thy lineament. I might have lived, thou still on earth, Like one to thee of alien birth, Mother; but now that thou art gone, I feel as in the world alone: The wind which lifts the streaming tree, The skies seem cold and strange to me: I feel a hand untwist the chain Of all thy love, with shivering pain, From round my heart: This bosom's bare, And less than wonted life is there. Ay, well indeed it may be so! And well for thee my tears may flow! Because that I of thee was part, Made of the blood-drops of thy heart; My birth I from thy body drew, And I upon thy bosom grew; Thy life was set my life upon; And I was thine, and not my own. Because I know there is not one To think of me as thou hast done, From morn till star-light, year by year: For me thy smile repaid thy tear; And fears for me, and no reproof, When once I dared to stand aloof! My punishment, that I was far When God unloosed thy weary star! My name was in thy faintest breath, And I was in thy dream of death; And well I know what raised thy head, When came the mourner's muffled tread! Alas! I cannot tell thee now I could not come to hold thy brow. And wealth is late, nor aught I've won Were worth to hear thee call thy son In that dark hour when bands remove, And none are named but names of love. Alas for me, I missed that hour! My hands for this shall miss their power; For thee, the sun, and dew, and rain, Shall ne'er unbind thy grave again, Nor let thee up the light to see, Nor let thee up to be with me! Yet sweet thy rest from care and strife, And many pains that hurt thy life! Turn to thy God—and blame thy son— To give thee more than I have done: Thou God, with joy beyond all years, Fill up the channels of her tears!— Thou car'st not now for soft attire, Yet wilt thou hear my soul's desire; To earth I dare not call thee more, But speak from off thy awful shore: Oh ask this heart for monument, And mine shall be a large content!
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