Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DAUGHTER, by MATILDA BARBARA BETHAM-EDWARDS



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THE DAUGHTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Come, mournful lute! Dear echo of my woe!
Last Line: Pausing forgetful as he pass'd along.
Alternate Author Name(s): Betham, Mary Matilda; Edwards, Matilda B.; Edwards, B. M.
Subject(s): Fathers & Daughters; Grief; Sorrow; Sadness


"Come, mournful lute! dear echo of my woe!
No stranger's tread in this lone spot I fear,
Sweeter thy notes in such wild places flow,
And, what is more, my Henry cannot hear!

He will not know my pain and my despair,
When that dread scene arises on my view,
Where my poor father would not hear my pray'r,
Or grant his only child a last adieu!

He will not know that still the hour I mourn,
When death all hopes of pardon snatch'd away;
That still this heart by sad remembrance torn,
Repeats the dreadful mandate of that day.

Luckless for him has been my constant love,
Luckless the destiny I bade him brave,
For since a parent did our vows reprove,
Sorrow was all the gift my fondness gave.

Then, though I knew my father's stern command,
The short-liv'd conflict of affection o'er,
I offer'd to the youth my dowerless hand,
And fondly reason'd thus on being poor,

"Can pomp or splendour elevate the soul,
Brighten the lustre that illumes the eye!
Make the rough stream of life more smoothly roll,
Suppress the tear, or waft away the sigh!

Can happiness a purer joy receive,
In the proud mansions of the rich and great?
Or, tell me, can the wounded bosom heave
With blunted anguish under robes of state!

No! Henry, no! Alas! too well you know,
The misery of an affected smile,
The pain of clearing the thought-clouded brow,
To covet for yourself the hateful toil!

And since my choice, and reason both approve,
Since I have known you many a circling year,
And time has well assur'd me of your love,
Tell me, my Henry, what have I to fear?

My father, though by world prudence led,
Will pardon when our happiness is told."
Alas! no curses fell upon my head,
But never did he more his child behold.

He would not, dying, hear my ardent prayer!
But cruel! said, I leave her all my store;
She wrung my doating heart with deep despair,
And even now perhaps desires no more.

This is the stroke which all my peace destroys,
The dagger which no art can draw away,
The thought which every faculty employs,
Withers my bloom, and makes my strength decay.

His death, his sorrows are the heavy curse
That hang above my poor, distracted head!
His dying words have scatter'd vain remorse,
For vain, though bitter, are the tears I shed.

And yet my father to my soul was dear,
But tender pity was on Henry's side;
I painted him relenting, not severe,
Nor fancied I could be an orphan bride.

Ah me! excuses will not cure my pain!
At least, forgetfulness can little plead.
A widow'd parent!—I deserv'd disdain,
'Tis fit these eyes should weep, this heart should bleed!

But yet assist me heaven! to hide my grief,
My waning health from love's suspicious eyes!
This malady admits of no relief,
And nought augments the pain, but Henry's sighs.

Perhaps e'en now he wonders at my stay,
Sees the white fogs of evening rise around,
Comes out to seek me in my devious way,
But turns not to this unfrequented ground.

Alas! my love, thy anxious care is vain!
Nothing can stop yon wand'rer of the sky;
Nothing can long this fleeting life retain!
For oh! I feel that I must shortly die.

But cease my lute, this low, desponding strain,
It floats too long upon the heavy air;
Henry may pass and know that I complain.
One moment's peace to him is worth my care."

She said, and toward the cheerless mansion flew,
Her slender, sylph-like form array'd in white,
Not clearly seen amidst surrounding dew,
Seem'd like a spirit ling'ring in its flight.

Poor Henry, who had watch'd her in the shade,
In aching silence list'ning to her song,
At distance follow'd slowly through the glade,
Pausing forgetful as he pass'd along.





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