Charles Harpur

Mary Arden

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When a simple English maiden,
Nested warm in Wilmicote,
Sang forth like a lark uprising
Heavenward with its morning note,
Did no English ear that listened,
Even then, foretouched by fame,
Tremble to the prophet-music
Fountain-headed in thy name,
Mary Arden?
And to thee thyself, O tell me!
Shade of Shakespeare’s mother, tell me!
Did no dazzling vision come,
Banishing all thoughts of gloom,
Of the bardic grandeurs waiting
On thy matron fate, when He
Who in time should call thee mother
Should all time’s subjector be,
Mary Arden?

Then a mother we behold thee,
With that babe upon thy breast,
That great nascent soul, so bird-like,
Babbling in its fragrant nest:
O what spirit sweetly human,
O what instincts mildly wise,
Sucked he from those mother-fountains,
Drew he from those mother-eyes,
Mary Arden?

But shall we, now spirit-basking
In the noonblaze of his fame,
Fail to read a sign prophetic
In thy lovely maiden name?
No; it is the star that trembled
O’er a royal poet’s birth;
And amongst immortal Maries,
Second to but one on earth,
Mary Arden!
Glory to thee! Mary Arden!
Shakespeare’s mother! England’s Mary!

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Charles Harpur