[Page [284]]


"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Isaiah xlix. 15.
1 HEAV'N speaks! O, nature, listen, and rejoice!
2 O, spread from pole to pole this gracious voice:
3 "Say, every breast of human frame, that proves
4 The boundless force with which a parent loves;
5 Say, can a mother from her yearning heart
6 Bid the soft image of her child depart?
7 She! whom fond instinct arms with strength to bear
8 All forms of ill to shield that dearest care?
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9 She! who with anguish stung, with madness wild,
10 Will rush on death to save her threaten'd child;
11 All selfish feelings banish'd from her breast,
12 Her life one aim to make another's blest?
13 When her lov'd infant to her bosom clings,
14 When round her neck his eager arms he flings,
15 Breathes to her list'ning soul his melting sigh,
16 And lifts, suffus'd with tears, his asking eye;
17 Will she, for all ambition can attain,
18 The charms of pleasure, or the lures of gain,
19 Betray strong nature's feelings, will she prove
20 Cold to the claims of duty and of love?
21 But should the mother from her yearning heart
22 Bid the soft image of her child depart;
23 Betray fond nature's energies, and prove
24 Cold to the claims of duty and of love!
25 Yet never will the GOD, whose word gave birth
26 To yon illumin'd orbs and this fair earth;
27 Who, through the boundless depths of trackless space,
28 Bade new-wak'd beauty spread each perfect grace;
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29 Yet, when he form'd the vast stupendous whole,
30 Shed his best bounties on the human soul;
31 Which reason's light illumes, which friendship warms,
32 Which pity softens, and which virtue charms;
33 Which feels the pure affections gen'rous glow,
34 Shares others' joy, and bleeds for others' woe
35 O, never will the gen'ral FATHER prove
36 Of man forgetful, man the child of love. "
37 When all those planets in their ample spheres
38 Have wing'd their course, and roll'd their destin'd years;
39 When the vast sun shall veil his glowing light
40 Deep in the gloom of everlasting night;
41 When wild destructive flames shall wrap the skies,
42 When chaos triumphs, and when nature dies,
43 Man shall alone the wreck of worlds survive,
44 Midst falling spheres immortal man shall live!
45 That voice which bade the last dread thunders roll,
46 Shall whisper to the good, and cheer their soul;
47 His favour'd creature GOD himself shall guide
48 Where living waters pour their blissful tide;
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49 Where the enlarg'd, exulting, wond'ring mind
50 Shall soar, from weakness and from guilt refin'd;
51 Where perfect knowledge, bright with cloudless rays,
52 Shall gild eternity's unmeasur'd days;
53 Where friendship, unembitter'd by distrust,
54 Shall in immortal bands unite the just;
55 Devotion rais'd to rapture breathe her strain,
56 And love in his eternal triumph reign.


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Title (in Source Edition): PARAPHRASE.
Genres: heroic couplet; paraphrase

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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. [284]-287.  (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