[Page [266]]



1 CHILD of my heart! while others hail
2 This festive morn, when joys prevail,
3 With careless wishes they may last,
4 Spite of all annals of the past;
5 As if for thee alone, secure,
6 Their fleeting nature would endure,
7 With roses strewing all thy way,
8 And life were but a bridal day;
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9 For me, by pensive thoughts opprest,
10 The future fills my anxious breast;
11 And flowers that fade, and joys that flee,
12 Are not the things I ask, for thee!
13 My heart for thee has learn'd to prove
14 The throbbings of a mother's love,
15 Since on thy cradle fell the tear
16 That mourn'd a sister's early bier;
17 And sure that angel's sainted prayer
18 Has shed sweet influence o'er my care;
19 To sorrow doomed in all the rest,
20 And only in her children blest!
21 While now you sign, with hope elate,
22 The civic register of fate;
23 Or at the holy altar bow,
24 To ratify the plighted vow,
25 Which made aright, or breath'd amiss,
26 Includes all future woe, or bliss;
27 While kneeling youth, and weeping beauty,
28 Hear the grave ritual of their duty,
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29 And the stern rubrick well approve
30 That charges to be true to love;
31 This compact, that for ever binds
32 In holy links two kindred minds,
33 Their happiness the mutual barter,
34 This solemn league we'll call a CHARTER!
35 Th' allusion never can be wrong,
36 White omens to the name belong;
37 Palladium that has all withstood,
38 And harbinger of boundless good.
39 And ever may its hallow'd law
40 Your willing hearts together draw!
41 Ah! may no ultra thirst of power
42 Embitter life's domestic hour;
43 No principles of feudal sway
44 Teach without loving, to obey;
45 The heart such joyless homage slights,
46 And wedlock claims its Bill of Rights
47 May you, to Virtue nobly just,
48 Disdain the whisper of mistrust;
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49 Your truth her dark police may brave,
50 Made for the tyrant, and the slave.
51 May Discord pass with sullen tread,
52 Far from the threshold of your shed,
53 With accents that on harshness border,
54 And words that love would call to order;
55 Or veto he would pine to hear,
56 Protesting only by a tear.
57 Nor when true fondness, with submisison
58 Her right asserting of petition,
59 Shall meekly hint at some abuse,
60 Or some reform of gen'ral use,
61 Unheeding all that she may say,
62 Pass to the order of the day.
63 Nor, bidding every blessing fade,
64 Let Jealousy your peace invade;
65 Whose shadow clings to all that's dear,
66 And adds the length'ning shapes of fear;
67 Whose mind with sickly colours ting'd,
68 Discerns in all, the code infring'd,
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69 Reads violations in the eye,
70 And marks the treason of a sigh;
71 Or loads a tear with false aspersion,
72 Mistaking sorrow for aversion;
73 Or construes into acts of guile
74 The tender pleadings of a smile;
75 Condemns unheard, with ultra fury,
76 Nor suffers love to call a jury,
77 Where innocence her head uprears,
78 Safe, in a trial by her peers.
79 Thus, having ne'er from duty swerved,
80 The faith of treaties well observ'd;
81 When Time your destin'd lot shall fling
82 Of sorrow from his loaded wing,
83 For you, of other good bereft,
84 Unchanging love will still be left;
85 Not like the world he then will roam,
86 But rest, the morning star of home.
87 Not yours, their bitter fate, who know
88 That agony of lonely woe,
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89 An altered heart was bound to share,
90 Nor find defence, nor charter there!
91 For you, to every duty true,
92 The Charter held in rev'rence due,
93 Each tender clause shall habit seal,
94 With no suggestion of repeal;
95 Firm to the law of true election,
96 And treating change with stern rejection,
97 Though time the graceful form has worn
98 To which fidelity was sworn:
99 For not alone with blooming youth
100 Is made that league of lasting truth;
101 The compact sign'd with beauty now,
102 Includes wan age, with wrinkled brow,
103 With tresses grey, with visage pale,
104 And eyes whose liquid lustre fail;
105 For then the hand, that shrivell'd thing,
106 Shall still display the nuptial ring,
107 Pledge of your faith, and cherish'd token
108 Of vows, through lengthen'd years unbroken;
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109 When all that's left of passion's flame
110 Is friendship, with a dearer name!
111 Thus be the charter'd Code imprest,
112 With all its statutes, on your breast;
113 No duty it enjoins forsook,
114 Till Time at length shall close the book;
115 And hope shall frame, for worlds to come,
116 A treaty that survives the tomb.


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Genres: occasional poem

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Williams, Helen Maria, 1759-1827. Poems on various subjects: with introductory remarks on the present state of science and literature in France. London: G. and W. B. Whittaker, 1823, pp. [266]-272.  (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [8º W 229 BS].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Helen Maria Williams