Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE EMBROIDERESS AT MIDNIGHT, by MARY ANN BROWNE



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THE EMBROIDERESS AT MIDNIGHT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: She plies her needle till the lamp
Last Line: Thy consecrated love.
Alternate Author Name(s): Gray, James, Mrs.; Gray, Mary Anne Browne
Subject(s): Embroiderers; Poverty


She plies her needle till the lamp
Is waxing pale and dim;
She hears the watchman's heavy tramp,
And she must watch like him: --
Her hands are dry, her forehead damp,
Her dark eyes faintly swim.

Look on her work! -- here blossom flowers,
The lily and the rose,
Bright as the gems of summer hours,
But not to die like those;
Here, fadeless as in Eden's bowers,
For ever they repose.

Once, maiden, thou wast fresh and fair
As those sweet flowers of thine;
Now, shut from sunny light and air,
How canst thou choose but pine?
Neglected flows thy raven hair,
Like the uncultured vine.

Look on her work! -- no common mind
Arranged that glowing group --
Wild wreaths the stately roses bind,
Sweet bells above them droop --
Ye almost see the sportive wind
Parting the graceful troop!

Look on her work! -- but look the more
On her unwearied heart,
And put aside the chamber-door
That doth the daughter part
From that dear mother, who before
Taught her this cunning art.

She sleeps -- that mother, sick and pale --
She sleeps -- and little deems
That she, who doth her features veil,
All day, in flitting gleams
Of anxious hope, this hour doth hail,
But not for happy dreams.

God bless her in her lone employ,
And fill those earnest eyes
With visions of the coming joy,
Waiting her sacrifice,
When they, who give her this employ,
Pay her its stinted price!

Think how her trembling hand will clasp
The treasure it will hold,
With that which seems a greedy grasp --
Yet not for love of gold:
That look -- that sigh's relieving gasp,
Its deeper springs unfold.

Think how her hasty feet will roam
The market and the street,
To purchase for her humble home
The food and clothing meet,
And with what gladness she will come
Back to this poor retreat!

Poor maiden! if the fair ones who
Thy graceful 'broidery buy,
Only one-half thy struggles knew,
And filial piety,
Methinks some drop of pity's dew
Would gem the proudest eye!

It is not here its full reward
Thy gentle heart will prove;
Here ever must thy lot be hard,
But there is ONE above
Who sees, and will not disregard,
Thy consecrated love.





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