Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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ELEGIAC STANZAS

ADDRESSED TO SIR G. H. B. UPON THE DEATH OF HIS SISTER-IN-LAW

          O FOR a dirge! But why complain?
          Ask rather a triumphal strain
          When FERMOR'S race is run;
          A garland of immortal boughs
          To twine around the Christian's brows,
          Whose glorious work is done.

          We pay a high and holy debt;
          No tears of passionate regret
          Shall stain this votive lay;
          Ill-worthy, Beaumont! were the grief                        10
          That flings itself on wild relief
          When Saints have passed away.

          Sad doom, at Sorrow's shrine to kneel,
          For ever covetous to feel,
          And impotent to bear!
          Such once was hers--to think and think
          On severed love, and only sink
          From anguish to despair!

          But nature to its inmost part
          Faith had refined; and to her heart                         20
          A peaceful cradle given:
          Calm as the dew-drop's, free to rest
          Within a breeze-fanned rose's breast
          Till it exhales to Heaven.

          Was ever Spirit that could bend
          So graciously?--that could descend,
          Another's need to suit,
          So promptly from her lofty throne?--
          In works of love, in these alone,
          How restless, how minute!                                   30

          Pale was her hue; yet mortal cheek
          Ne'er kindled with a livelier streak
          When aught had suffered wrong,--
          When aught that breathes had felt a wound;
          Such look the Oppressor might confound,
          However proud and strong.

          But hushed be every thought that springs
          From out the bitterness of things;
          Her quiet is secure;
          No thorns can pierce her tender feet,                       40
          Whose life was, like the violet, sweet,
          As climbing jasmine, pure--

          As snowdrop on an infant's grave,
          Or lily heaving with the wave
          That feeds it and defends;
          As Vesper, ere the star hath kissed
          The mountain top, or breathed the mist
          That from the vale ascends.

          Thou takest not away, O Death!
          Thou strikest--absence perisheth,                           50
          Indifference is no more;
          The future brightens on our sight;
          For on the past hath fallen a light
          That tempts us to adore.
                                                              1824.


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