Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  Stanzas to the Memory of Thomas Hood

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

Bartholomew Simmons 18—–50

Stanzas to the Memory of Thomas Hood

TAKE back into thy bosom, earth,

This joyous, Ma-eyed morrow,

The gentlest child that ever mirth

Gave to be rear’d by sorrow!

’T is hard—while rays half green, half gold,

Through vernal bowers are burning,

And streams their diamond-mirrors hold

To summer’s face returning—

To say we ’re thankful that his sleep

Shall never more be lighter,

In whose sweet-tongued companionship

Stream, bower, and beam grew brighter!

But all the more intensely true

His soul gave out each feature

Of elemental love—each hue

And grace of golden nature;

The deeper still beneath it all

Lurk’d the keen jags of anguish;

The more the laurels clasp’d his brow

Their poison made it languish.

Seem’d it that like the nightingale

Of his own mournful singing,

The tenderer would his song prevail

While most the thorn was stinging.

So never to the desert-worn

Did fount bring freshness deeper,

Than that his placid rest this morn

Has brought the shrouded sleeper.

That rest may lap his weary head

Where charnels choke the city,

Or where, mid woodlands, by his bed

The wren shall wake its ditty;

But near or far, while evening’s star

Is dear to hearts regretting,

Around that spot admiring thought

Shall hover, unforgetting.

And if this sentient, seething world

Is, after all, ideal,

Or in the immaterial furl’d,

Alone resides the real,

Freed one! there ’s a wail for thee this hour

Through thy lov’d elves’ dominious;

Hush’d is each tiny trumpet-flower,

And droopeth Ariel’s pinions;

Even Puck, dejected, leaves his swing,

To plan, with fond endeavor,

What pretty buds and dews shall keep

Thy pillow bright for ever.

And higher, if less happy, tribes,

The race of early childhood,

Shall miss thy whims of frolic wit,

That in the summer wild-wood,

Or by the Christmas hearth, were hail’d,

And hoarded as a treasure

Of undecaying merriment

And ever-changing pleasure.

Things from thy lavish humor flung

Profuse as scents, are flying

This kindling morn, when blooms are born

As fast as blooms are dying.

Sublimer art owned thy control:

The minstrel’s mightiest magic,

With sadness to subdue the soul,

Or thrill it with the tragic.

Now listening Aram’s fearful dream,

We see beneath the willow

That dreadful thing, or watch him steal,

Guilt-lighted, to his pillow.

Now with thee roaming ancient groves,

We watch the woodman felling

The funeral elm, while through its boughs

The ghostly wind comes knelling.

Dear worshipper of Dian’s face

In solitary places,

Shalt thou no more steal, as of yore,

To meet her white embraces?

Is there no purple in the rose

Henceforward to thy senses?

For thee have dawn and daylight’s close

Lost their sweet influences?

No!—by the mental night untam’d

Thou took’st to death’s dark portal,

The joy of the wide universe

Is now to thee immortal!

How fierce contrasts the city’s roar

With thy new-conquer’d quiet!—

This stunning hell of wheels that pour

With princes to their riot!

Loud clash the crowds—the busy clouds

With thunder-noise are shaken,

While pale, and mute, and cold, afar

Thou liest, men-forsaken.

Hot life reeks on, nor recks that one—

The playful, human-hearted—

Who lent its clay less earthiness,

Is just from earth departed.