The Wish of the Weary Woman

Original Text: 
Sigourney, L. H., The Western Home, and Other Poems (Philadelphia: Parry and McMillan, 1854): 323-25. Internet Archive
1A form there was, still spared by time
2Till the slow century fill'd its prime;
3Stretch'd on its bed, with half-closed eye
4It mark'd uncertain shades flit by;
5Nor scarce the varied world of sound
6To the seal'd ear admittance found;
7While the worn brow, in wrinkles dark,
8Seem'd like the gnarl'd oak's roughen'd bark.
9Oh! e'er did youthful beauty deck
10Those wither'd limbs, yon living wreck?
11Did blushes o'er that leathern cheek
12The warmth of wild emotion speak?
13Did rosy health that lip bedew,
14And kneeling love for favour sue?
15Alas! alas! for him who bears
16A hundred years earth's load of cares.
17'Twere vain to ask, what legends old
18That brain might in its chambers hold;
19What pictures in its gallery fade,
20By Fancy touch'd or Hope portray'd;
21For Memory locks the cloister'd cell,
22And Silence guards the citadel;
23But still that weary woman's eye
24Doth gaze and fix on vacancy.
25Yet the faint lungs spontaneous play,
26The heart's pulsations hold their way,
27And helpless to the garden borne,
28Or laid beside the blossom'd thorn,
29What time the vernal noontide hour
30Gave deeper life to shrub and flower,
31Methought a quickening influence stole
32O'er stagnant veins, and frigid soul.
33A knell burst forth! From turret high
34Its mournful cadence floated by;
35E'en on that rigid ear it broke,
36And, strange to say, the tear awoke.
37Then lo! a hoarse, sepulchral tone,
38As when imprison'd waters moan,
39Moved the parch'd lips to utterance free,
40"Ah! when will that bell toll for me?
41"All, all are gone! the husband dear,
42The loving child, the friend sincere.
43Once toward their graves with grief I prest,
44But now I bless their dreamless rest;
45For lone, amid a stranger-band.
46Sad relic of the past I stand;
47Dead at the root, a blasted tree;
48Ah! when will that bell toll for me?
49"Hath Death forgotten? To his halls
50Childhood and youthful prime he calls;
51In bowers of love, or domes of pride,
52He finds them, wheresoe'er they hide:
53Fain would they 'scape, but to his sight
54I hasten, and his shaft invite.
55Hath God forgot? I bend the knee,
56Oh, let that knell be toll'd for me!"
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
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