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 including some surprisingly 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.
A poem and a hymn written by Thomas Hood (1799-1845) shows poignancy in its antithetical ideal Victorian death – a missing, a loss, the moment not being shared – the unideal Victorian death.
THE DEATH-BED. By Thomas Hood.
WE watched her breathing through the night,
Her breathing soft and low,
As on her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.
So silently we seemed to speak,
So slowly moved about,
As we had lent her half our powers
To eke her being out.
Our very hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied;
We thought her dying when she slept,
And sleeping when she died.
For when the morn came dim and sad,
And chill with early showers,
her quiet eyelids closed; – she had
Another morn than ours.