Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EDITHA, by MATILDA BARBARA BETHAM-EDWARDS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

EDITHA, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Breathing the violet-scented gale
Last Line: Of mingled reverence and love.
Alternate Author Name(s): Betham, Mary Matilda; Edwards, Matilda B.; Edwards, B. M.
Subject(s): Sea Battles; Widows & Widowers; Naval Warfare

BREATHING the violet-scented gale,
Near to a river's limpid source,
Which, through a wide-extended vale,
Wound slowly on its sleeping course,

Attended by a youthful pair,
With rubied lip and roving eye,
Oft would fair Editha repair,
And let her children wander nigh.

There pleased behold their footsteps turn
To each new object in their way,
Their ringlets glittering in the sun,
Their faces careless, blythe, and gay.

Once, when they drest their flaxen hair,
With flow'rets wild of various hue,
And with a proud, exulting air,
To their delighted parent drew:

"Ah! thus may every day arise!
"And pleasure thus your hearts pervade!"
The widowed mother fondly cries,
"Before the youthful blossoms fade.

"My sighs are all dispersed in air,
"Resigned to fate, I weep no more,
"Your welfare now is all my care,
"Yet am I constant as before.

"The world, because a vermil bloom,
"Tinges my yet unfading cheek,
"Says I forget my William's tomb,
"A new and earthly love to seek.

"Because I join the social train,
"With lip that wears a kindred smile;
"And a gay sonnet's lively strain,
"Does oft the lonely hour beguile:

"Because no longer now I mourn,
"With sweeping robes of sable hue;
"No more I clasp the marble urn,
"Or vainly bid the world adieu.

"Ah! ill my secret soul they know,
"Where my lost hero still remains,
"Where memory makes my bosom glow,
"And binds me still in closer chains.

"Whoever hath seen my William's form,
"Heightened with every martial grace,
"The ever-varying, unknown charm,
"Wich beamed in his expressive face;

"Or heard his fine ideas try,
"In Fancy's fairy garb to teach,
"While the sweet language of his eye,
"Excelled the eloquence of speech,

"Could never suppose my faith would fail,
"Or aught again this heart enslave;
"That absence would over love prevail,
"Or hope be bounded by the grave.

"Could all but I his merit know?
"His wit and talents see?
"And is his name by all below
"Remembered, but by me?

"No, never will I the memory lose,
"Though from my sight thy form is flown,
"Of tenderness for other's woes,
"And noble firmness in thy own.

"No slavish fear thy soul deprest,
"Of Death, or his attendant train;
"For in thy pure and spotless breast,
"The fear of heaven did only reign.

"Thus, when the still-unsated waves
"Spread over thy head their whelming arms,
"When horrid darkness reigned around,
"And lightnings flashed their dire alarms,

"When, winged with death, each moment flew,
"And blood the foaming ocean stained,
"Thy courage cool, consistent, true,
"Its native energy maintained.

"And when the fatal moment came,
"The bullet entered in thy side,
"Only thy spirit's beauteous frame,
"Its prisoner flying, drooped and died.

"This is it that consoles my mind,
"Which to my love aspiring flies,
"And makes me hope, in future days,
"To hail my William in the skies.

"Should tears from my pale eyelids steal,
"I teach my children's how to flow,
"And make their little bosoms feel,
"Before their time, the touch of woe.

"I will not weep! the world shall see
"That I a nobler tribute pay;
"More grateful both to heaven and thee,
"By guiding them in virtue's way."

Embracing then her fondest cares,
She cast her raptured eyes above,
And breathed to heaven emphatic pray'rs,
Of mingled reverence and love.

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