Stanzas, Written on the Death of an Irish Emigrant Girl at Sea [poem, 16 November 1850]


Written on the Death of an Irish Emigrant Girl at Sea.

(From the Australian Era.)

Weep for the dead ! let the mourning wail,
Break soft o’er the sun-lit wave ;
Let the sighs ye waft on the passing gale
Fall light on her billowy grave.
Weep for the dead ! who hath passed from earth
Like the bloom that the young flower wears,
Like the fairy smile of an infant’s mirth,
Ere it saddens into tears.

She died not in her own fair land —
In her childhood’s happy home —
Where the cheering voice and friendly hand
To soothe and comfort come.
She faded not among the flowers
With whose sweet growth she grew,
In that fair spring of life’s young hours
Her joyous girlhood knew.

She lies not in the quiet tomb,
In the church-yard’s hallowed shade ;
Where the willow weeps and wild flowers bloom,
And her kindred’s graves are made ;
Where the long grass waves, and the simple stone
Keeps watch at the sleeper’s head ;
Where the soft spring winds, with plaintive tone
Breathe requiems for the dead ;

But where the fathomless waters sweep
O’er the wild and lonely sea ;
Where the restless waves and storm-blast keep
Their noisy revelry ;
Where only stranger forms were near,
Beneath the stranger’s eye,
And stranger voices in her ear,
She laid her down to die.

We wrapt the body in its shroud,
And a parting prayer we said ;
O’er the glittering deep a passing cloud —
And the sea sweeps o’er the dead.
The glad waves shouted joyously,
The laughing sunbeams shone,
And before the wind all gallantly
The noble ship rode on.

Aye ! proudly rode the gallant ship,
And freshly blew the blast,
And smiles soon wreathed each youthful lip
When the mournful scene was past :
And soon the light of hope arose
Within each heart of gloom ;
E’en as the sunset’s soft repose
Upon that ocean tomb.

No eye upon that grave shall weep,
No sigh shall linger there ;
No faithful friends their vigils keep,
Nor faithful love repair.
And as I watched each lonely wave
O’er that sleeping fair one sweep,
I thought of the reft heart’s lonelier grave,
And turned away to weep.

The Bathurst Free Press (Bathurst, NSW), Saturday 16 November 1850, page 4

[Editor: Corrected “lonlier” to “lonelier”.]

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