A Celebration of Women Writers

"All Alone." by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)

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All Alone

Ah! wherefore by the church-yard side,
   Poor little lorn one. dost thou stray?
Thy wavy locks but thinly hide
   The tears that dim thy blue-eye's ray;
And wherefore dost thou sigh, and moan,
And weep, that thou art left alone?

Thou art not left alone, poor boy,
   The traveller stops to hear thy tale;
No heart, so hard, would thee annoy!
   For though thy mother's cheek is pale,
And withers under yon grave stone,
Thou art not, urchin, left alone.

I know thee well! thy yellow hair
   In silky waves I oft have seen:
Thy dimpled face so fresh and fair,
   Thy roguish smile, thy playful mien,
Were all to me, poor orphan, known,
Ere Fate had left theeall alone!

Thy russet coat is scant, and torn,
   Thy cheek is now grown deathly pale!
Thy eyes are dim, thy looks forlorn,
   And bare thy bosom meets the gale;
And oft I hear thee deeply groan,
That thou, poor boy, art left alone.

Thy naked feet are wounded sore
   With thorns, that cross thy daily road;
The winter winds around thee roar,
   The church-yard is thy bleak abode;
Thy pillow now a cold grave stone
And there thou lov'st to grievealone!

The rain has drench'd thee, all night long;
   The nipping frost thy bosom froze;
And still, the yew-tree shades among,
   I heard thee sigh thy artless woes;
I heard thee, till the day-star shone
In darkness weepand weep alone!

Oft have I seen thee, little boy,
   Upon thy lovely mother's knee;
For when she lived, thou wert her joy,
   Though now a mourner thou must be!
For she lies low, where yon grave stone
Proclaims that thou art left alone.

Weep, weep no more; on yonder hill
   The village bells are ringing, gay;
The merry reed, and brawling rill
   Call thee to rustic sports away.
Then wherefore weep, and sigh, and moan,
A truant from the throngalone?

"I cannot the green hill ascend,
   I cannot pace the upland mead;
I cannot in the vale attend
   To hear the merry-sounding reed:
For all is still beneath yon stone,
Where my poor mother's left alone!

"I cannot gather gaudy flowers
   To dress the scene of revels loud
I cannot pass the evening hours
   Among the noisy village crowd;
For all in darkness, and alone
My mother sleeps, beneath yon stone.

"See how the stars begin to gleam,
   The sheep-dog barks'tis time to go;
The night-fly hums, the moonlight beam
   Peeps through the yew-trees' shadowy row:
It falls upon the white grave-stone,
Where my dear mother sleeps alone.

"O stay me not, for I must go,
   The upland path in haste to tread;
For there the pale primroses grow,
   They grow to dress my mother's bed.
They must ere peep of day, be strown,
Where she lies mouldering all alone.

"My father o'er the stormy sea
   To distant lands was borne away,
And still my mother stay'd with me,
   And wept by night and toil'd by day.
And shall I ever quit the stone
Where she is left to sleep alone.

"My father died, and still I found
   My mother fond and kind to me;
I felt her breast with rapture bound
   When first I prattled on her knee
And then she blest my infant tone,
And little thought of yon grave-stone.

"No more her gentle voice I hear,
   No more her smile of fondness see;
Then wonder not I shed the tear,
   She would have died to follow me!
And yet she sleeps beneath yon stone,
And I still liveto weep alone.

"Thy playful kid, she loved so well,
   From yon high clift was seen to fall;
I heard afar his tinkling bell,
   Which seem'd in vain for aid to call
I heard the harmless sufferer moan,
And grieved that he was left alone.

"Our faithful dog grew mad, and died,
   The lightning smote our cottage low
We had no resting-place beside,
   And knew not whither we should go:
For we were poorand hearts of stone
Will never throb at misery's groan.

"My mother still survived for me,
   She led me to the mountain's brow,
She watch'd me, while at yonder tree
   I sat, and wove the ozier bough;
And oft she cried, "fear not, mine own!
Thou shalt not, boy, be left alone."

"The blast blew strong, the torrent rose
   And bore our shatter'd cot away:
And where the clear brook swiftly flows,
   Upon the turf, at dawn of day,
When bright the sun's full lustre shone,
I wander'd, friendlessand alone!"

Thou art not, boy, for I have seen
   Thy tiny footsteps print the dew,
And while the morning sky serene
   Spread o'er the hill a yellow hue,
I heard thy sad and plaintive moan,
Beside the cold sepulchral stone.

And when the summer noontide hours
   With scorching rays the landscape spread,
I mark'd thee, weaving fragrant flowers
   To deck thy mother's silent bed!
Nor at the church-yard's simple stone
Wert thou, poor Urchin, left alone.

I follow'd thee along the dale,
   And up the woodland's shad'wy way:
I heard thee tell thy mournful tale
   As slowly sunk the star of day:
Nor when its twinkling light had flown
Wert thou a wanderer all alone.

"O! yes, I was! and still shall be
   A wanderer, mourning and forlorn;
For what is all the world to me
   What are the dews and buds of morn?
Since she who left me sad, alone
In darkness sleeps, beneath yon stone!

''No brother's tear shall fall for me,
   For I no brother ever knew;
No friend shall weep my destiny,
   For friends are scarce, and tears are few;
None do I see, save on this stone,
Where I will stay and weep alone.

"My father never will return,
   He rests beneath the sea-green wave
I have no kindred left to mourn
   When I am hid in yonder grave:
Not one to dress with flowers the stone!
Thensurely, I am left alone!"

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