Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  Pope at Twickenham

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Charles Kent b. 1823

Pope at Twickenham

BEYOND a hundred years and more,

A garden lattice like a door

Stands open in the sun,

Admitting fitful winds that set

Astir the fragrant mignonette

In waves of speckled dun:

Sweet waves, above whose odorous flow

Red roses bud, red roses blow,

In beds that gem the lawn—

Enamell’d rings and stars of flowers,

By summer beams and vernal showers

From earth nutritious drawn.

Within the broad bay-window, there,

Lo! huddled in his easy-chair,

One hand upon his knee,

A hand so thin, so wan, so frail,

It tells of pains and griefs a tale,

A small bent form I see.

The day is fair, the hour is noon,

From neighboring thicket thrills the boon

The nuthatch yields in song:

All drench’d with recent rains, the leaves

Are dripping—drip the sheltering eaves,

The dropping notes among.

And twinkling diamonds in the grass

Show where the flitting zephyrs pass,

That shake the green blades dry;

And golden radiance fills the air

And gilds the floating gossamer

That glints and trembles by.

Yet, blind to each familiar grace,

Strange anguish on his pallid face,

And eyes of dreamful hue,

That lonely man sits brooding there,

Still huddled in his easy-chair,

With memories life will rue.

Where bay might crown that honor’d head,

A homely crumpled nightcap spread

Half veils the careworn brows;

In morning-gown of rare brocade

His puny shrunken shape array’d

His sorrowing soul avows:

Avows in every dropping line

Dejection words not thus define

So eloquent of woe;

Yet never to those mournful eyes,

The heart’s full-brimming fountains, rise

Sweet tears to overflow.

No token here of studied grief,

But plainest signs that win belief,

A simple scene and true.

Beside the mourner’s chair display’d,

The matin meal’s slight comforts laid

Trimly the board bestrew.

’Mid silvery sheen of burnish’d plate,

The chill’d and tarnish’d chocolate

On snow-white damask stands;

Untouch’d the trivial lures remain

In dainty pink-tinged porcelain,

Still ranged by usual hands.

A drowsy bee above the cream

Hums loitering in the sunny gleam

That tips each rim with gold;

A checker’d maze of light and gloom

Floats in the quaintly-litter’d room

With varying charms untold.

Why sits that silent watcher there,

Still brooding with that face of care,

That gaze of tearless pain?

What bonds of woe his spirit bind,

What treasure lost can leave behind

Such stings within his brain?

He dreams of one who lies above,

He never more in life can love—

That mother newly dead;

He waits the artist-friend whose skill

Shall catch angel-beauty still

Upon her features spread.

A reverent sorrow fills the air,

And makes a throne of grief the chair

Where filial genius mourns:

Death proving still, at direst need,

Life’s sceptre-wand—a broken reed,

Love’s wreath—a crown of thorns.