On The Death Of A Sister

by James Grahame

Dear to my soul! ah, early lost!
Affection's arm was weak to save:
Now friendship's pride, and virtue's boast,
Have come to an untimely grave!

Closed, ever closed, those speaking eyes,
Where sweetness beam'd, where candour shone;
And silent that heart-thrilling voice,
Which music loved, and call'd her own.

That gentle bosom now is cold,
Where feeling's vestal splendours glow'd;
And crumbling down to common mould,
That heart where love and truth abode.

Yet I behold the smile unfeign'd,
Which doubt dispell'd and kindness won;
Yet the soft diffidence, that gain'd
The triumph it appear'd to shun.

Delusion all - forbear, my heart;
These unavailing throbs restrain,
Destruction has perform'd his part,
And Death proclaim'd - thy pangs are vain.

Vain though they be, this heart must swell
With grief that time shall ne'er efface;
And still with bitter pleasure dwell
On ev'ry virtue, ev'ry grace.

For ever lost - I vainly dream'd
That Heaven my early friend would spare;
And, darker as the prospect seem'd,
The more I struggled with despair.

I said - yet a presaging tear
Unbidden rose, and spoke more true -
'She still shall live - th' unfolding year
Shall banish care, and health renew.

'She yet shall tread the flow'ry field,
And catch the opening rose's breath:
To watchful love disease shall yield,
And friendship ward the shaft of death.'

'Alas! before the violet bloom'd -
Before the snows of winter fled;
Too certain fate my hopes consumed,
For she was number'd with the dead.

She died - deserving to be mourn'd,
While parted worth a pang can give.
She died - by Heaven's best gifts adorn'd,
While folly, falsehood, baseness, live.

Long in their aseness live secure
The noxious weed and wounding thorn,
While, snatch'd by violence, ere mature,
The lily from her stem is torn.

Yet who shall blame the heart that feels
When Heaven resumes the good it gave?
Yet who shall scorn the tear that falls
From friendship's eye at virtue's grave?

Friend, parent, sister - tenderest names!
May I, as pale at mem'ry's shrine
Ye pour the tribute anguish claims,
Approach unblamed, and mingle mine.

Long on the joys of vanish'd years
The glance of sadness shall ye cast;
Long, long th' emphatic speech of tears
Shall mourn thy bloom for ever past.

And thou, who from the orient day
Return'st with hope's gay dreams elate,
Falsely secure and vainly gay,
Unconscious of the stroke of fate.

What waits thee? not th' approving smile
Of faithful love that chases care;
Not the fond glance o'er paying toil,
But cold and comfortless despair.

Despair! - I see the phantom rove
On Cail's green banks, no longer bright,
And fiercely grasp the torch of love,
And plunge it in sepulchral night.

Farewell, sweet maiden; at thy tomb
My silent footstep oft shall stray;
More dear to me its hallow'd gloom,
Than life's broad glare, and fortune's day.

And oft, as fancy paints thy bier,
And mournful eyes thy lowly bed,
The secret sigh shall rise - the tear
That shuns observance shall be shed.

Nor shall the thoughts of thee depart,
Nor shall my soul regret resign,
Till mem'ry perish, till this heart
Be cold and motionless as thine.