James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 15

Lillian Adelaide Neilson

By Clement Scott (1841–1904)

  • A noted English actress of great talent, who died on August 15, 1880, at an early age.

  • WHAT shall my gift be to the dead one lying

    Wrapped in the mantle of her mother earth?

    No tear, no voice, no prayer, or any sighing,

    Gives back her face made beautiful by birth.

    Honor was due to one whose soul was tender,

    Whose nature quickened at the touch of art;

    Now that the struggle’s over, God will send her

    Mercy and peace to soothe her troubled heart.

    Tears will be shed; for who dare raise the finger

    Of scorn when all is buried in the grave?

    Some pity near her memory will linger:

    Upon life’s stormy sea she tossed—a wave!

    Life’s weary hill she bravely fell in breasting,

    Her work was done; “Oh take me home,” she sighs;

    Whisper it low, she sleeps not, “she is resting,”—

    So fell the curtain, and she closed her eyes.

    The flowers she loved will deck the cross that shows us

    Where all remains of what was once so fair.

    Yes! she is dead, but still perhaps she knows us

    Who say “Implora pace!” for our prayer.

    They gave love’s playthings, who were wont to win her,

    As Juliet coaxed to happiness her nurse;

    But I, who knew the goodness that was in her,

    Place humbly on her grave—this leaf of verse.