Home » Mourning Literature & Custom » The Loss by Mrs. J. R. Lowell

The Loss by Mrs. J. R. Lowell

I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are predominantly by American authors. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog. 

The Loss

When on my ear your loss was knelled,
And tender sympathy upburst,
A little rill from memory swelled,
Which once had soothed my bitter thirst.

And I was fain to bear to you
Some portion of its mild relief,
That it might be as healing dew,
To steal some feet from your grief.

After our child’s untroubled breath
Up to the Father took its way,
And on our home the shade of death,
Like a long twilight, haunting lay ; –

And friends came round with us to weep
Her little spirit’s swift remove,
This story of the Alpine sheep
Was told to us by one we love: –

“They, in the valley’s sheltering care,
Soon crop the meadow’s tender prime,
And when the sod grows brown and bare,
The shepherd strives to make them climb

“To airy shelves of pasture green,
That hang along the mountain’s side,
Where grass and flowers together lean,
And down through mist the sunbeams slide.

“But naught can tempt the timid things
That steep and rugged path to try,
Though sweet the shepherd calls and sings,
And seared below the patters lie, –

“Till in his arms their lambs he takes,
Along the dizzy verge to go,
Then, heedless of the rifts and breaks,
They follow on o’er rock and snow.

“And in those pastures lifted fair,
More dewy soft than lowland mead,
The shepherd drops his tender care,
And sheep and lambs together feed.”

This parable, by nature breathed,
Blew on me as the south wind, free,
O’er frozen brooks, that float unsheathed
From icy thraldom to the sea.

A blissful vision, through the night,
Would all my happy senses sway,
Of the good shepherd on the height,
Or climbing up the stony way, –

Holding our little lamb, asleep;
And, like the burthen of the sea,
Sounded that voice along the deep,
Saying, “Arise, and follow me.”

– Mrs. J.R. Lowell

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