To the Memory of MARIA HARRISON
“Only the actions of the just, Smell sweet and blossom in the dust”
It would be an unseemly sign, for long united friends, to part without a parting line, when the connection ends.
Much more when death dissolves the ties, by which two hearts are joined, the strongest nature could devise, or true affection bind.
O! were I equal to the task, and could the debt repay, which her transcendant virtues ask, who claims this votive lay.
But O! how infinitely short, how meaningless and tame, were “burning word” or “breathing thought”, to satisfy the claim.
The arrow cannot reach its mark, the fond attempt must fail, the fire become a glow-worm spark, and leave a half told tale.
Yet nature will the task assay, however vain and weak; did not affection prompt the lay, the very stones would speak.
The theme has one consoling phase, though mournful and forlorn, that nothing in the way of praise, can be too highly drawn.
Plain honest truth without a blush, is all that need be told, no want is here of fiction’s brush, to paint the burnished gold.
Her character, that shed its light, around my heart and home, approached as near perfections light, as flesh and blood can come.
Nature and grace did so combine, and each such tints had given, the living picture seemed to shine, with “colours dipped in heaven.”
Each female virtue, charm and grace, in her appeared to meet, nor could the keenest critic trace one, short or incomplete.
Her spirit, ever kind and calm, seem’d all transparent love; her temper, gentle as the lamb, and guileless as the dove.
Of affectation and pretence, clear as the ambient air; yet of good sterling common sense, her’s was no common share.
Her pleasant smile and cheerful speech, heartfelt, and pure, and warm, to all who came within their reach, lent their inspiring charm.
Her busy hand no respite knew, her duty, her delight, and whatsoe’er it found to do, it did with all its might.
Her’s was no childish idiot love, it’s nobler aim and end, were such as reason could approve, and grace and truth commend.
Day after day and year by year, unchanged midst changing things, it’s ‘constant lamp’ burnt bright and clear, and “waved it’s purple wings.”
While by the outer world around, unnoticed and unseen, within her own domestic bound, she lived and reigned a queen.
The ‘Queen of love,’ the ‘Queen of hearts.’ The sceptre of her sway, the power which mutual love imparts, so pleasant to obey.
Her presence made our homely hearth, a place serenely bright, the sweetest dearest spot on earth, the centre of delight.
Her memory shines without a blot, more lustrous than the sun, since he has here and there a spot, while her good name has none.
With us the nuptial honeymoon, was never past the full, our sun “stood still,” like Gibeons noon our sky was never dull.
No cloud of matrimonial strife, e’er cross’d the ‘blue serene, the flowers that strew’d our path of life, remain’d for ever green.
The six short years her presence graced, my home appear’d to view, a bright oasis in the waste, we jointly travell’d through.
O! happy years, with such a wife, could ye return again, I should be reconcil’d to life, with all its care and pain.
The Arbiter of all below, suspends above our head, earth’s highest joy, and deepest woe, upon a single thread.
Hence father, mother, brother, son, and all the ties of life, are sweetly blended into one, that one, a loving wife.
In finding her, man finds them all, and O! ’tis sad to tell, when she obeys the final call, he loses all as well.
The breach she leaves is far too wide, for other ties to fill, and though they all may yet abide, the heart is vacant still.
At every turn he seems to miss, the pleasure and relief, of her who doubled all his bliss, and halv’d his every grief.
The widow’d bed, the vacant chair, the lonely fire side, recall the form so lately there, their ornament and pride.
A thousand little nameless things which passed unheeded by, revive again as memory brings her mirror to the eye.
And all with one consent recall the thought so sad and sore, that the chief actor in them all, is gone for evermore.
The sad experience now is mine, to feel this chastening rod; and though the spirit would resign, and bow before its God.
Rebellious reason would resent, and restive to the yoke, presume to question the intent, of such a heavy stroke.
Sees only in the bitter cup, the wormwood and the gall, of mercy scarce a single drop, to countervail it all.
This is my weakness well I know, extorted by the pain, which cuts the tenderest tie below, and rends the heart in twain.
In her alone seem’d treasured up, life’s few remaining joys; the sweetest drop left in its cup, this sad event destroys.
My pilgrim staff is snatch’d away, at that most helpless stage, in which I most requir’d it’s stay, to prop declining age.
I deem’d her junior years a screen, to stand ‘twixt death and me, and that he’d surely spare the green, and take the wither’d tree.
But now the verdant branch has shrunk, beneath the simoom’s breath, and left a scath’d and shatter’d trunk, to die a living death.
To grope my melancholy way, a lonely solitaire, down to the narrow house of clay, to find my lost one there.
My case is something new and strange, the grief her loss imparts, comes not within the common range, of desolated hearts.
And till her equal can be found, among her sex and race, my sorrow is in duty bound, to claim the highest place.
The ship that founders in the main, the ravages of fire, the flood that overwhelms the plain, with devastation dire.
Such losses all may be assessed, and marshalled in account; but mine can never be redressed, or known it’s full amount.
I hoped her kind consoling tone, would soothe my parting breath, and that her tender hand alone, would close my eyes in death.
And that her lov’d and loving face, beside my dying bed, would be the last to meet my gaze, before the spirit fled.
That her dear image would impart, at it’s concluding heave, the last impression to my heart, it ever would receive.
But He whom all events obey, saw fit to call her first, and that such hopes with her should lay, together in the dust.
That higher hopes of heavenly bliss, immortal and divine, in a far brighter world than this, henceforward should be mine.
Where endless years of pleasure roll, and tears are wiped away, best fitted for her guileless soul, that now has left its clay.
O! may it be my portion fair, to meet her on that shore, and it’s diviner pleasures share, with her for evermore.
That sweet companionship below, in such a world as this, may lead to holier joys which flow, from consummated bliss.
Lord, give me grace to hold my peace, and prostrate in the dust, in all thy ways to acquiesce, and own the sentence just.
The issues both of life and death, are under thy control; the given and the taken breath, the body and the soul.
Thy Judgements are too deep and high, for reasons bounded ken, to know the wherefore and the why, ’tis thus, and thus with men.
We cannot call thee to account, or thwart thy sovereign will; our duty in its true amount, is only to “stand still.”
And under all events defer, confidingly resigned, o Thee who art “too wise to err, too good to be unkind.”
We cannot doubt thy dealings here, will (one day on review), to present questioners appear, all just, and right, and true.
The cloud which now appears to men, the messenger of wrath, will show it’s “silver lining” then, and cheer the spirit’s path.
While Thy salvation’s glorious plan, retrieving Adam’s loss, will “justify Thy ways to man,” through the Redeemer’s cross.
Then all Thy attributes will shine, resplendant as the sun, and all in harmony divine, with what Thy hand has done.