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

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FRAGMENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A pilgrim weary, toil-subdued
Last Line: Appear'd to feel alarm, and fled.
Alternate Author Name(s): Betham, Mary Matilda; Edwards, Matilda B.; Edwards, B. M.
Subject(s): Grief; Marriage; Mothers; Singing & Singers; Sorrow; Sadness; Weddings; Husbands; Wives; Songs

A Pilgrim weary, toil-subdued,
I reach'd a country, strange and rude,
And trembled, lest approaching eve
My hope of shelter might deceive;
When I espied a hunter train,
Prowling at leisure o'er the plain,
And hasten'd on to ask relief,
Of the ill-omened, haughty chief.
His eye was artful, keen, and bold,
His smile malevolently cold,
And had not all my fire been fled,
And every earthly passion dead,
His pity to contempt allied,
Had rous'd my anger and my pride;
But as it was, I bent my way,
Where his secluded mansion lay,
Which rose before my eyes at length,
A fortress of determin'd strength,
And layers of every colour'd moss
The lofty turrets did emboss,
As tho' the hand of father Time,
Prepar'd a sacrifice sublime,—
Giving his daily rites away,
To aggrandize some future day.
Here as I roam'd the walls along,
I heard a plaintive broken song;
And ere I to the portal drew,
An open window caught my view,
Where a fair dame appear'd in sight,
Array'd in robes of purest white.
Long snowy folds confin'd her hair,
And left a polish'd forehead bare.
O'er her meek eyes, of deepest blue,
The sable lash long shadows threw;
Her cheek was delicately pale,
And seem'd to tell a piteous tale,
But o'er her looks such patience stole,
Such saint-like tenderness of soul,
That never did my eyes behold,
A beauty of a lovelier mold.

The lady sigh'd, and closely prest
A sleeping infant to her breast;
Shook off sweet tears of love, and smil'd,
Kissing the fingers of the child,
Which round her own unconscious clung,
Then fondly gaz'd, and softly sung:

Once like that sea, which ebbs and flows,
My bosom never knew repose,
And heavily each morn arose.

I bore with anger and disdain,
I had no power to break my chain,
No one to whom I dar'd complain.

And when some bird has caught my eye,
Or distant sail been flitting by,
I wish'd I could as freely fly.

But I can now contented be,
Can tell, dear babe, my griefs to thee,
And feel more brave, and breathe more free.

And when thy father frowns severe,
Although my spirit faints with fear,
I feel I have a comfort near.

And when he harshly speaks to me,
If thou art smiling on my knee,
He softens as he looks on thee.

To soothe him in an evil hour
The bud has balm, oh! may the flower
Possess the same prevailing power!

Nor forc'd to leave thy native land,
To pledge a cold, unwilling hand,
May'st thou receive the hard command.

My mother had not half the zeal,
The aching fondness which I feel,
She had no broken heart to heal!

And I was friendless when she died,
Who could my little failings chide,
And for an hour her fondness hide.

But I can see no prospect ope,
Can give no fairy vision scope,
If thou art not the spring of hope.

I cannot thy affection draw,
By childhood's first admiring awe;
Be tender pity then thy law!

This heart would bleed at every vein,
I could not even life sustain,
If ever thou should'st give me pain.

O! soul of sweetness! can it be,
That thou could'st prove unkind to me!
That I should fear this blow from thee!

Alas! e'en then I would not blame,
My love to thee should be the same,
And judge from whence unkindness came!

Her words grew indistinct and slow,
Her voice more tremulous and low,
When suddenly the song was o'er,
A whisper even heard no more—
She had discern'd my nearer tread;
Appear'd to feel alarm, and fled.

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