Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DAUGHTER, by ALICE CARY



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THE DAUGHTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Alack, it is a dismal night
Last Line: Is all that I shall ever know.


ALACK, it is a dismal night --
In gusts of thin and vapory light
The moonshine overbloweth quite
The fretful bosom of the storm,
That beats against, but cannot harm
The lady, whose chaste thoughts do charm
Better than pious fast or prayer
The evil spells and sprites of air --
In sooth, were she in saintly care
Safer she could not be than now
With truth's white crown upon her brow --
So sovereign, innocence, art thou.
Just in the green top of a hedge
That runs along a valley's edge
One star has thrust a golden wedge,
And all the sky beside is drear --
It were no cowardice to fear
If some belated traveler near,
To visionary fancies born,
Should see upon the moor, forlorn,
With spiky thistle burs and thorn;
The lovely lady silent go,
Not on a "palfrey white as snow,"
But with sad eyes and footsteps slow;
And softly leading by the hand
An old man who has nearly spanned,
With his white hairs, life's latest sand.
Hope in her faint heart newly thrills
As down a barren reach of hills
Before her fly two whippoorwills;
But the gray owl keeps up his wail --
His feathers ruffled in the gale,
Drowning almost their dulcet tale.
Often the harmless flock she sees
Lying white along the grassy leas,
Like lily-bells weighed down with bees.
And now and then the moonlight snake
Curls up its white folds, for her sake,
Closer within the poison brake.
But still she keeps her lonesome way,
Or if she pauses, 't is to say
Some word of comfort, else to pray.
What doth the gentle lady here
Within a wood so dark and drear,
Nor hermit's lodge nor castle near?
See in the distance robed and crowned
A prince with all his chiefs around,
And like sweet light o'er sombre ground
A meek and lovely lady, there
Proffering her earnest, piteous prayer
For an old man with silver hair.
But what of evil he hath done,
O'erclouding beauty's April sun,
I know not -- nor if lost or won,
The lady's pleading, sweet and low --
About her pilgrimage of woe,
Is all that I shall ever know.





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