by Charlotte Smith
THE FEMALE EXILE. WRITTEN AT BRIGHTHELMSTONE IN NOVEMBER 1792
November’s chill blast on the rough beach is howling,
The surge breaks afar, and then foams to the shore,
Dark clouds o’er the sea gather heavy and scowling.
And the white cliffs re-echo the wild wintry roar.
Beneath that chalk rock, a fair stranger reclining,
Has found on damp sea-weed a cold lonely seat;
Her eyes fill’d with tears, and her heart with repining,
She starts at the billows that burst at her feet.
There, day after day, with an anxious heart heaving,
She watches the waves where they mingle with air;
For the sail which, alas! all her fond hopes deceiving,
May bring only tidings to add to her care.
Loose stream to wild winds those fair flowing tresses,
Once woven with garlands of gay Summer flowers;
Her dress unregarded, bespeaks her distresses,
And beauty is blighted by grief’s heavy hours.
Her innocent children, unconscious of sorrow,
To seek the gloss’d shell, or the crimson weed stray;
Amused with the present, they heed not to-morrow,
Nor think of the storm that is gathering to day.
The gilt, fairy ship, with its ribbon-sail spreading,
They launch on the salt pool the tide left behind;
Ah! victims — for whom their sad mother is dreading
The multiplied miseries that wait on mankind!
To fair fortune born, she beholds them with anguish,
Now wanderers with her on a once hostile soil,
Perhaps doom’d for life in chill penury to languish,
Or abject dependance, or soul-crushing toil.
But the sea-boat, her hopes and her terrors renewing.
O’er the dim grey horizon now faintly appears;
She flies to the quay, dreading tidings of ruin,
All breathless with haste, half expiring with fears.
Poor mourner! — I would that my fortune had left me
The means to alleviate the woes I deplore;
But like thine my hard fate has of affluence bereft me,
I can warm the cold heart of the wretched no more!
You can find out more about Charlotte Smith here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Smith_(writer)