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

December 5

Mozart’s Requiem

By Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793–1835)

(Died Dec. 5, 1791)

A REQUIEM!—and for whom?

For beauty in its bloom?

For valor fallen—a broken rose or sword?

A dirge for king or chief,

With pomp of stately grief,

Banner, and torch, and waving plume deplored?

Not so, it is not so!

That warning voice I know,

From other worlds a strange mysterious tone;

A solemn funeral air

It call’d me to prepare,

And my heart answer’d secretly—my own!

One more then, one more strain,

In links of joy and pain

Mighty the troubled spirit to enthral!

And let me breathe my dower

Of passion and of power

Full into that deep lay—the last of all!

The last!—and I must go

From this bright world below,

This realm of sunshine, ringing with sweet sound!

Must leave its festal skies,

With all their melodies,

That ever in my breast glad echoes found!

Yet have I known it long;

Too restless and too strong

Within this clay hath been the o’ermastering flame;

Swift thoughts, that came and went,

Like torrents o’er me sent,

Have shaken, as a reed, my thrilling frame.

Like perfumes on the wind,

Which none may stay or bind,

The beautiful comes floating through my soul;

I strive with yearnings vain,

The spirit to detain

Of the deep harmonies that past me roll!

Therefore disturbing dreams

Trouble the secret streams

And founts of music that o’erflow my breast;

Something far more divine

Than may on earth be mine,

Haunts my worn heart, and will not let me rest.

Shall I then fear the tone

That breathes from worlds unknown?—

Surely these feverish aspirations there

Shall grasp their full desire,

And this unsettled fire,

Burn calmly, brightly, in immortal air.

Once more then, one more strain,

To earthly joy and pain

A rich, and deep, and passionate farewell!

I pour each fervent thought

With fear, hope, trembling fraught,

Into the notes that o’er my dust shall swell.