Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
 
Somerset
Epitaph
Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
HERE, in the fruitful vales of Somerset,
Was Emma born, and here the maiden grew
To the sweet season of her womanhood,
Beloved and lovely, like a plant whose leaf
And bud and blossom all are beautiful.        5
In peacefulness her virgin years were passed;
And, when in prosperous wedlock she was given,
Amid the Cumbrian mountains far away
She had her summer bower. ’T was like a dream
Of old romance to see her when she plied        10
Her little skiff on Derwent’s glassy lake;
The roseate evening resting on the hills,
The lake returning back the hues of heaven,
Mountains and vales and waters, all imbued
With beauty, and in quietness; and she,        15
Nymph-like, amid that glorious solitude
A heavenly presence, gliding in her joy.
But soon a wasting malady began
To prey upon her, frequent in attack,
Yet with such flattering intervals as mock        20
The hopes of anxious love, and most of all
The sufferer, self-deceived. During those days
Of treacherous respite, many a time hath he,
Who leaves this record of his friend, drawn back
Into the shadow from her social board,        25
Because too surely in her cheek he saw
The insidious bloom of death; and then her smiles
And innocent mirth excited deeper grief
Than when long-looked-for tidings came at last,
That, all her sufferings ended, she was laid        30
Amid Madeira’s orange-groves to rest.
O gentle Emma! o’er a lovelier form
Than thine earth never closed; nor e’er did heaven
Receive a purer spirit from the world.
 
 
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