The Village Funeral.

Long had the cheek, by seeming health o’erspread,1
Through parent’s breast, delusive pleasure shed;2
The fevered pulse, the spirit-lacking eye,3
Had swelled, in that sad breast, the stifled sigh ;4
By hope and fear her soul alternate swayed,5
Had lingered in decline the “ village maid.”6
The wedding-day was fixed the mother knew ;7
The secret joy had whispered to a few ;8
And all the village, all the country near,9
Had joyed or grieved the whispered tale to hear.10
Consumption crept with silent pace amain,11
She felt no sickness, and she owned no pain ;12
Yet listless passed the lately joyous day,13
And all her roses hastened to decay.14
At each successive step become more bold,15
The spoiler now unveils his deadly hold ;16
Life’s vitals grasps, till all the boiling blood17
Pours o’er the burning cheek its crimson flood.18
I met her noon-day steps along the plain,19
She moved with heaviness, and breathed with pain ;20
And ever and anon, with “ blade of knife,”21
Upturned the grassy sod in quest of life,22
Inhaled the fresh’ning influence with care,23
Nor of the passing stranger seemed aware.24
There needs no more the features to pourtray25
Of youth and beauty hastening to decay ;26
A parent’s grief suppressed, a lover’s wail,27
Sum up the burden of my mournful tale ;28
Whilst Recollection, o’er the passing bier,29
In silence stoops again, and drops a tear.30
The hour is twelve—but few, and far between,31
Th’ invited mourners slowly gather in,—32
Await the “ Service” with attentive eye,33
And prove their sympathy by many a sigh.34
Now Elder Jonathan, with bonnet blue,35
Veils his devotion meekly from the view36
In accents slow—lugubrious—loud—and long,37
Pours the discursive fervours of his song.38
This mournful prelude past, the circling glass,39
Short-bread and bun, in quick succession pass ;40
A while in pairs, with whispering tone, they tell41
How harvests ripen, and how cattle sell ;42
What accidents last market evening knew,43
How “ Sutor John” was beaten black and blue,—44
Till all its power resumed, the loosened tongue45
With rustic jest and merriment is hung.46
They lift”—the bed resigns its coffined clay,47
Which, in slow moving march, is borne away ;48
And now, with bending step, and starting tear,49
The father takes his station at the bier50
Once more supports his daughter’s drooping head,51
And lowers it gently to its narrow bed.52
The closing grave resumes its promised trust,53
And all a parent’s hope returns to dust,54
Meanwhile the village dames in crowds repair,55
The female grief’and female pint to share56
O’er Jenny’s fate sad lamentations raise,57
And fuddle all their senses in her praise.58