Cordula's Web. NOAA. Ice on the Lower Patuxent River, Maryland.
NOAA Photo Library: line2649. Ice on the Lower Patuxent River. Mary B. Hollinger. HiRes. Gallery 11

The Hapless Wretch

Janetta Philipps

The hapless wretch, whom fortune's hate
Has doomed with weary step to rove,
Torn by the ruthless hand of fate,
From all his heart had learned to love;

First exiled from his native home
How oft he turns that home to view!
And, driven in distant lands to roam,
How slow he breathes his last adieu!

On some lone spot he lingering stands,
While brightly shines the evening star,
And, bathed in tears, with outstretched hands,
Looks on his cot that smokes afar.

Should then some spire, or rising hill,
Too well remembered, meet his eye,
What heightened griefs his bosom fill
How saddened is his parting sigh!

Objects that ne'er before were dear,
When from those objects doomed to part,
Wring from his eyes the starting tear,
And cling around his aching heart.

I, like that weary exile, stray,
And often turn my glistening eye,
To mark along my mournful way
The flowers that only bloomed to die,

Though scanty was the store of bliss
To me by partial fate assigned;
Rich in content, I did not miss
The splendid joys that lure mankind.

And though my lip did ne'er aspire
To taste the rich Piërian spring,
To me unknown the Muse of fire,
Who soars aloft on eagle wing:

Yet my weak strain would oft beguile
The hours of pain a parent knew;
Then on my path would Friendship smile,
While round it Hope her radiance threw.

But now my song is mixed with sighs,
Unheard my lute's sad melody,
Cold in her grave that parent lies,
And friends remote are dead to me.

Imagination, parent fair
Of those sweet forms that won my heart;
Fancy and Hope, ye radiant pair,
Will your blest dreams with them depart?

Must never more my footsteps stray
Amid your bowers, and jocund train?
Will ne'er again your magic lay
Steal from my soul the sense of pain?

Yes, still with fond regret I turn
Your fading visions to renew;
And still your simple pleasures mourn,
So pure, but ah! so brief, and few.

Again shall light my tearful eye
The scenes that now cannot deceive,
Which Fancy, daughter of the sky,
Drew on the fleeting cloud of eve:

Yet Hope's delusions still I hail,
Still fondly on her anchor rest;
Tho' soon the breaking prop may fail,
And, faithless, pierce my trusting breast.

Poems 1811.

Home :: Poetry :: Sorrow and Sadness (2) :: The Hapless Wretch