A Young Girl Seen in Church

Eliza Mary Hamilton

Was she an orphan? —can another grief

    So wholly chasten? —can another woe

So sanctify? —for she was (as a leaf

    Of hue funereal mid the Spring's young glow)

Robed in emphatic black: —the soul of night

    Filled her rich simply-parted ebon hair,

And raven eye-lashes, and made her bright

    With solemn lustre day can never wear.

Two younger buds, a sister at each side,

    Like little moon-lit clouds beside the moon,

Which up the sky's majestic temple glide,

    Clad darkly too, she led, —but music soon

Moved over her, and like a breeze of heaven,

    Shook from her lips the fragrance of her soul, —

And then, the thoughts with which my heart had striven,

    Spoke in my gaze, and would not brook control.

I bent upon her my astonished eye,

    That glowed, I felt, with an expression full

Of all that love which dares to deify, —

   That adoration of the beautiful

Which haunts the poet, —I forgot the sighs

    Of whispered prayer around me, and the page

Of hope divine, and the eternal eyes

    That look through every heart, in every place and age.

I gazed and gazed as though she were a star,

Unconscious and unfallen, which shone above, afar.—

But eloquently grave, a crimson cloud

    Of deep disquietude her cheek o'erspread

With exquisite rebuke; —and then I bowed

    Like hers my earnest looks and conscious head,

Ashamed to have disturbed the current meek

   Of her translucent thoughts, and made them flow

Painfully earthward. But she veiled that cheek, —

    Veiled even its sweet reproach and sacred glow,

Like those pure flowers too sensitive to brook

    Noon's burning eye, and its oppressive look,

That shut, in beautiful displeasure, up

    Each brilliant petal of their heart's deep cup.


Hodges and Smith