Maria’s Return

By Thomas Love Peacock 1785–1866
          The whit’ning ground
          In frost is bound;
   The snow is swiftly falling;
While coldly blows the northern breeze,
And whistles through the leafless trees,
   In hollow sounds appalling.
 
          On this cold plain,
          Now reach’d with pain,
   Once stood my father’s dwelling:
Where smiling pleasure once was found,
Now desolation frowns around,
   And wintry blasts are yelling.
 
          Hope’s visions wild
          My thoughts beguil’d,
   My earliest days delighting,
Till unsuspected treach’ry came,
Beneath affection’s specious name,
   The lovely prospect blighting.
 
          With many a wile
          Of blackest guile
   Did Henry first deceive me:
What winning words to him were giv’n!
He swore, by all the pow’rs of Heav’n,
   That he would never leave me.
 
          With fondest truth
          I lov’d the youth:
   My soul, to guilt a stranger,
Knew not, in those too simple hours,
That oft beneath the sweetest flow’rs
   Is couch’d the deadliest danger.
 
          With him to roam
          I fled my home;
   I burst the bonds of duty;
I thought my days in joy would roll;
But Henry hid a demon’s soul
   Beneath an angel’s beauty!
 
          Shall this poor heart
          E’er cease to smart?
   Oh never! never! never!
Did av’rice whisper thee, or pride,
False Henry! for a wealthier bride
   To cast me off for ever?
 
          My sire was poor:
          No golden store
   Had he, no earthly treasure:
I only could his griefs assuage,
The only pillar of his age,
   His only source of pleasure.
 
          With anguish wild,
          He miss’d his child,
   And long in vain he sought her:
The fiercest thunder-bolts of heav’n
Shall on thy guilty head be driv’n,
   Thou Disobedient Daughter!
 
          I feel his fears,
          I see his tears,
   I hear his groans of sadness:
My cruel falsehood seal’d his doom:
He seems to curse me from the tomb,
   And fire my brain to madness!
 
          Oh! keenly blow,
          While drifts the snow,
   The cold nocturnal breezes;
On me the gath’ring snow-flakes rest,
And colder grows my friendless breast;
   My very heart-blood freezes!
 
          ‘Tis midnight deep,
          And thousands sleep,
   Unknown to guilt and sorrow;
They think not of a wretch like me,
Who cannot, dare not, hope to see
   The rising light to-morrow!
 
          An outcast hurl’d
          From all the world,
   Whom none would love or cherish,
What now remains to end my woes,
But here, amid the deep’ning snows,
   To lay me down and perish?
 
          Death’s icy dart
          Invades my heart:
   Just Heav’n! all-good! all-seeing!
Thy matchless mercy I implore,
When I must wake, to sleep no more,
   In realms of endless being!

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Poet Thomas Love Peacock 1785–1866

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Death, Disappointment & Failure, Life Choices, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Heartache & Loss, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue, Rhymed Stanza

Biography

Thomas Love Peacock was an accomplished poet, essayist, opera critic, and satiric novelist. During his lifetime his works received the approbation of other writers (some of whom were Peacock’s friends and the targets of his satire), literary critics (many of whom were simply his targets), and a notoriously vocal reading public. Today, Peacock’s reputation rests almost exclusively on the merits of his seven novels, four of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Disappointment & Failure, Life Choices, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Heartache & Loss, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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