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The Lady of La Garaye. Norton, Caroline Sheridan, 1808–1877.
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  • FRIEND of old days, of suffering, storm, and strife,
  • Patient and kind through many a wild appeal;
  • In the arena of thy brilliant life
  • Never too busy or too cold to feel:
  • Companion from whose ever teeming store
  • Of thought and knowledge, happy memory brings
  • So much of social wit and sage’s lore,
  • Garnered and gleaned by me as precious things:
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  • Kinsman of him whose very name soon grew
  • Unreal as music heard in pleasant dreams,
  • So vain the hope my girlish fancy drew,
  • So faint and far his vanished presence seems.
  • To thee I dedicate this record brief
  • Of foreign scenes and deeds too little known;
  • This tale of noble souls who conquered grief
  • By dint of tending sufferings not their own.
  • Thou hast known all my life: its pleasant hours,
  • (How many of them have I owed to thee!)
  • Its exercise of intellectual powers,
  • With thoughts of fame and gladness not to be.
  • Thou knowest how Death for ever dogged my way,
  • And how of those I loved the best, and those
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  • Who loved and pitied me in life’s young day,
  • Narrow, and narrower still, the circle grows.
  • Thou knowest—for thou hast proved—the dreary shade
  • A first‐born’s loss casts over lonely days;
  • And gone is now the pale fond smile, that made
  • In my dim future, yet, a path of rays.
  • Gone, the dear comfort of a voice whose sound
  • Came like a beacon‐bell, heard clear above
  • The whirl of violent waters surging round;
  • Speaking to shipwrecked ears of help and love.
  • The joy that budded on my own youth’s bloom,
  • When life wore still a glory and a gloss,
  • Is hidden from me in the silent tomb;
  • Smiting with premature unnatural loss,
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  • So that my very soul is wrung with pain,
  • Meeting old friends whom most I love to see.
  • Where are the younger lives, since these remain?
  • I weep the eyes that should have wept for me!
  • But all the more I cling to those who speak
  • Like thee, in tones unaltered by my change;
  • Greeting my saddened glance, and faded cheek,
  • With the same welcome that seemed sweet and strange
  • In early days: when I, of gifts made proud,
  • That could the notice of such men beguile,
  • Stood listening to thee in some brilliant crowd,
  • With the warm triumph of a youthful smile.
  • Oh! little now remains of all that was!
  • Even for this gift of linking measured words,
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  • My heart oft questions, with discouraged pause,
  • Does music linger in the slackening chords?
  • Yet, friend, I feel not that all power is fled,
  • While offering to thee, for the kindly years,
  • The intangible gift of thought, whose silver thread
  • Heaven keeps untarnished by our bitterest tears.
  • So, in the brooding calm that follows woe,
  • This tale of LA GARAYE I fain would tell,—
  • As, when some earthly storm hath ceased to blow,
  • And the huge mounting sea hath ceased to swell;
  • After the maddening wrecking and the roar,
  • The wild high dash, the moaning sad retreat,
  • Some cold slow wave creeps faintly to the shore,
  • And leaves a white shell at the gazer’s feet.
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  • Take, then, the poor gift in thy faithful hand;
  • Measure its worth not merely by my own,
  • But hold it dear as gathered from the sand
  • Where so much wreck of youth and hope lies strown.
  • So, if in years to come my words abide—
  • Words of the dead to stir some living brain—
  • When thoughtful readers lay my book aside,
  • Musing on all it tells of joy and pain,
  • Towards thee, good heart, towards thee their thoughts shall roam,
  • Whose unforsaking faith time hath not riven;
  • And to their minds this just award shall come,
  • ’Twas a TRUE friend to whom such thanks were given!
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