Home » Mourning Literature & Custom » THE NIGHT IS CLOSING ROUND, MOTHER. By Barry Cornwall.

THE NIGHT IS CLOSING ROUND, MOTHER. By Barry Cornwall.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

 

This beautiful poem was included in the author’s publication English Songs, and Other Small Poems, 1832. Barry Cornwall was a pseudonym for a gentleman called Bryan Waller Procter (1787 – 1874). Although Cornwall published numerous writings, he was also a lawyer and the Metropolitan Commissioner of Lunacy. He was the contemporary of Lord Byron and Robert Peel. His daughter Adelaide Anne was also a poet – in fact one of England’s most popular 19th Century poets, and a favourite of Queen Victoria. She was a tireless philanthropist, dedicating her life to the rights of women, particularly those living in poverty. Bryan Procter achieved a great deal of acclaim during his lifetime, and known for some time afterwards. The author Wilkie Collins dedicated one of my favourite books, The Woman in White, to him in 1859.

THE NIGHT IS CLOSING ROUND, MOTHER. By Barry Cornwall.

THE night is closing round, mother !
The shadows are thick and deep !
All around me they cling, like an iron ring,
And I cannot, — cannot sleep !

Ah, heaven ! thy hand, thy hand, mother !
Let me lie on thy nursing breast !
They have smitten my brain with a piercing pain :
But ’tis gone, — and I now shall rest.

I could sleep a long, long sleep, mother !
So, seek me a calm, cool bed :
You may lay me low, in the virgin snow,
With a moss-bank for my head.

I would lie in the wild woods, mother !
Where naught but the birds are known ;
Where nothing is seen but the branches green,
And flowers on the greensward strown.

No lovers there witch the air, mother !
Nor mock at the holy sky :
One may live and be gay, like a summer day,
And at last, like the summer, die !

Dying girl with mother; ambrotype, c.1860 courtesy The Thanatos Archive.  One image of many extraordinary early post mortem and unusual photography.

Dying girl with mother; ambrotype, c.1860 courtesy The Thanatos Archive. One image of many extraordinary early post mortem and unusual photography. To learn more of this fascinating visual history see The Thantos Archive membership site and Facebook page.

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