Verses on Thomas Hardy Visiting the Grave of His Wife


VERSES,

OCCASIONED BY

THE VISIT OF THOMAS HARDY,

IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS ACQUITTAL,

TO THE

GRAVE OF HIS WIFE,

Who had died, during his Confinement, in Child-bed; declaring in her last moments, that the grief, occasioned by her Husband’s misfortune, had broken her heart.


“IS this thy grave?” the afflicted mourner

said,

And fresh from every pore his sorrows bled:

“It is thy grave!” but grief arrested speech,

And silence spoke what language could not reach:

Full in his eyes, whence drops of anguish stole,

Beamed all the husband’s, all the father’s soul.

— Why was thy wife from thine embraces torn?

Why, but to perish, was thine infant born?—

 

Pale, on the sad deserted bed she lies,

Where last her spouse and guardian blessed her

eyes;

Whence, from her arms, she saw him dragged

away;

— O the wild horrors of that dismal day!

Less keen the torture, less severe the smart,

Had all the nerves been severed from her heart;

Ah! less the mortal shock, the rending pain,

Had that ill-fated heart been cleft in twain!

From that distracting moment, quick decay

Crumbled her poor remains of life away:

How did the world to her sick eyes appear;

Each breath a sigh, and every look a tear!

Her pillow restless as the tossing wave,

And every step sunk deeper in the grave!

Bending, at length, beneath o’erwhelming woes,

While nature laboured with maternal throes,

She saw, she blessed her babe—then deeply

sighed—

— And wept, and blessed her babe again—and

died!

 

The little innocent just peeped at earth;

No joyful father hailed its happy birth;

No mother’s breast the sweet nutrition shed,

Or formed a pillow for its fainting head.

The infant star emerging from the main,

Shot one pale twinkling ray— and set again:

So in the eye of beauty springs a tear,

Then drops, for ever, from its brilliant sphere!

 

Ah! wherefore did the hapless babe expire?

Why lived it not to bless its injured sire?

From his parched cheeks to wipe the streaming

tears,

And ease the burthen of his bending years.

That sire, in dungeons doomed to mourn his

fate;

His innocence, alas! declared too late!

 

Lo! from the awful bar, the prison’s gloom,

Released he flies—ah! whither?— see the tomb!

See where the agonizing mourner stands,

With flowing eyes, mute lips, and pleading

hands!

Cannot those speaking looks revive the dead?

Cannot those sighs recall the spirits fled?

Alas! no tears can melt the unfeeling tomb!

No sighs revoke the inexorable doom!

“Is this thy grave?”—Impressed with solemn awe

The people stood—they felt the grief they saw.

 

Such was the scene on earth. The mourner’s

eye,

Raised from the tomb, beheld the unfolding sky:

His fainted spouse, and her angelic child,

Smiled on the husband, on the father smiled!

Admiring seraphs, like the crowd below,

Beheld the scene, and felt their bosoms glow.

“And shall we meet again?” the mourner

sighed

“Soon,” smiled the vision of his heavenly bride;

Then vanished, in a moment, from his view:

The husband bowed in silence and withdrew.