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

May 3

Stanzas to the Memory of Thomas Hood

By Bartholomew Simmons (d. 1850)

  • Thomas Hood, poet and humorist, and author of “The Bridge of Sighs” and “The Song of the Shirt,” died in London, May 3, 1845.

  • I.
    TAKE back into thy bosom, Earth,

    This joyous, May-eyed morrow,

    The gentlest child that ever Mirth

    Gave to be reared by Sorrow!

    ’Tis 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

    Lurked the keen jags of anguish;

    The more the laurels clasped his brow

    Their poison made it languish.

    Seemed 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 furled

    Alone resides the real,

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

    Through thy loved Elves’ dominions;

    Hushed 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 hailed,

    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 untamed

    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-conquered 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.