Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CORNELIA'S REPLY, by WILLIAM ALLEN BUTLER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CORNELIA'S REPLY, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Cornelia, a matron of ancient rome
Last Line: The pure quenchless light of a mother's love!
Subject(s): Family Life; Housewives; Love; Mothers & Sons; Rome, Italy; Wealth; Relatives; Riches; Fortunes

CORNELIA, a matron of ancient Rome,
Was busied one day in her quiet home,
Ruling the house with her firm, gentle rule,
Her husband abroad, and her boys at school,
But she, in her manifold toils and cares,
Still blending her joys and hopes with theirs.

To visit Cornelia that day there came
A rich Roman lady of noble name.
Very fair she was, and as proud as fair,
Queenly her bearing, disdainful her air,
Regal her robe, each soft flowing fold
Lustrous with purple, embroidered with gold;
Slaves followed her steps who bore in their hands
Caskets of jewels from Orient lands,
Spoils of the provinces, glittering gems
Plucked by the victors from kings' diadems.
These royal trophies of Rome's proudest day
The haughty patrician came to display.
"Behold," she exclaimed, "my jewels so rare!
Cornelia, what have you with them to compare?"
Cornelia gazed on the dazzling array;
She silently gazed, turned, silent, away.
From caskets and gems her quick glance had strayed
To the inner court where the fountain played,
Whence clear on her listening ear there fell
Glad tones from the two she loved so well;
A moment more, at the mother's call,
Together they entered the lofty hall,
The youthful Gracchi, one calm and sedate,
The shade on his brow of his future fate,
The other a bold and a joyous youth,
The fire in his eye of valor and truth.
Embracing them both, with a mother's pride,
"These are my jewels!" Cornelia replied.

Dead and forgotten this many a day,
The rich Roman lady has passed away;
Ages have rolled o'er Cornelia's grave
And the graves of the Gracchi, true and brave;
Living to-day is Cornelia's reply,
Fresh and immortal, it never can die,
Clear as a diamond, it beams on our sight,
Cheering our souls with its tranquil light,
A light not of Earth—a ray from above,
The pure quenchless light of a Mother's love!

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