Poems. By Sidney Owenson. Dublin:  Alex Stewart, 1801. 92-98.



Written on the Author's visiting the home
of her childhood after an absence of ighte[1] years.


Ye golden hours which softly fled away,
  Like aerial Gossamer on vernal breeze;
Rapid as thought, or bright electric flash,
  Soothing as zephyr's murmur 'midst the trees.


Bless'd halcyon hours beyond recov'ry fled,
  Sportive to Time's eternal goal ye danc'd,
Crown'd by the blooming wreaths which Fancy wove,
  And led by Hope ye smilingly advanc'd!


For ye Contentment cull'd her choicest sweets,
  Fair Innocence illum'd ye with her beams;
Imagination each wish realiz'd,
  And on life's vista shed her orient gleams!


When o'er my senses steals the sweet, sad gloom
  The mingled thrill of pleasure and of pain;
Nor can the gaiety of youthful mind,
  The dark intrusion of felt cares restrain!


Then Fancy wanders thro' remembrance paths,
  Culls each sweet flower to scatter o'er the waste
Which grief has made, and seeks in mem'ry's page
  To lose the present ills in joy long past!


Then ye dear scenes, (perhaps devoid of charm,
  Save what my fond ideas round ye twine,)
Where first my dawn of life so blissful gleam'd,
  Then, then in memory only are you mine!


Ah! Why ye scenes, has time's sharp, ruthless fang
  In eight short years such cruel havoc made,
Each fond memento of past bliss destroy'd,
  Destroy'd each charm, and on each beauty prey'd!


I sought the hawthorn tree, beneath whose shade,
  Full oft I pass'd my truant hours gay,
The spot where once it bloom'd I quickly found,
  The tree itself had droop'd into decay!


I sought the cot, near my parental home,
  Where oft I stole the warlock tale to hear,
To feast on oaten cake or new laid egg,
  I found the place;--alas! no cot was there;


And you, ye treasur'd objects of my heart!
  Dear, loved companions of my early days
With whom I ran my life's first frolic course,
  Mingled my smiles, and sung my untaught lays!


Oft on a stream that wound its trickling way,
  I will remember, near our lov'd abode,
We venturous launch'd our barks of paper built,
  Freighted with currant red, (delicious load,)


And as (true emblem of our careless days,
  Gliding life's stream) we eager bent our eyes,
On passing ship, for theirs who swiftest sail'd,
  Claim'd both the fleet and fruit, a glorious prize!


Full various were our sports, yet not in sports
  Alone, pass'd on the tenor of our days;
So romps succeeded oft th'instructive page,
  And even wisdom mingled with our plays!


And you my some-time brother,* o'er whose birth
  Genius presided! wit new strung his lyre;
The muse her future bard to slumbers sung
  And e'en his lisping numbers did inspire!


Thus form'd my infant taste, and from thy lips,
  My mind imbib'd th'enthusiastic glow;
The love of literature, which thro' my life
  Heightened each bliss, and soften'd every woe!


My sainted mother too, methinks I view
  Thy endearing smile, my ever sweet reward;
For each unfolding talent ever gain'd
  Thy fond approvings, and thy dear regard.


Even still methinks, soft vibrate in mine ear,
  Thy well remember'd tones, and still I trace
In thy dear eyes, thy fond maternal love,
  Catch thy last look, and feel thy last embrace.


The dying wish that hover'd ov'er thy lips,
  Thy last, last words, soft, trembling, broken, faint,
That my sad breaking heart received of thine,
  And spoke the woman's conquest o'er the saint!


Were these, "dear child of all my tenderest care,
  Transfer that duteous love to me you pay'd,
To thy dear sire;--live but for him," and died;--
  Say blessed spirit, have I disobey'd?


Oft does my mem'ry sketch the social group,
  At closing eve, that circled round the fire;
Sweet hour that fondly knit each human tie,
  Unites the children, mother, friend, and sire!


Full oft the legendary tale went round,
  Historic truth, or Car'lan's heart-felt song;*
For though but little understood, I ween
  We lov'd the music of our native tongue!


And oft went round the puzling, forfeit game,
  Play'd with nice art, and many a sportive jest;
Repeated oft--yet sure to win a laugh,
  For those we longest know, we lov'd the best!


Dear happy group, and e'en as happy good,
  Why guileless spirits from each other torn!
Why has the world unclasp'd thy social bond,
  And left my fond heart its fond hopes wreck to mourn?


Thus calmly flows some pure, expansive stream,
  Pellucid, clear, while o'er its surface plays
The soften'd shade of each o'er-drooping plant,
  The moon's pale beam, or sun's meridian rays!


But lo! should earth's convulsive struggles throw
  Th'impending rock in scatter'd masses o'er,
'Tis forced to disunite in sep'rate streams,
  Dwindles to viewless rills, and 's seen no more!

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Author's Footnotes:

*Thomas Dermody[2], a youth whose wonderful and precose talents were acknowledged and patronized by the first characters of rank and taste in the kingdom.[return to stanza XIV]

*Carolan, the celebrated Irish bard.[return to stanza XXI]

Editorial notes:

1.  sic.  This edition has a number of errors such as this, in addition to the idiosyncratic spelling common in the period.[return to top]

2.  Thomas Dermody (1775-1802) lived in the Owenson household for a time, and functioned as the daughters' tutor; see his poem, "To Miss Sidney and Miss Olivia Owenson."  Sydney Owenson and Dermody corresponded until Dermody's death.[return to stanza XIV]