June 9, 2014

Death of Rand: never will smile again

The Philadelphia-born poet Marion H. Rand died on Grahamville, South Carolina on June 9, 1849. She was about 25 years old. Rand began publishing her poetry as early as 14 years old, encouraged no doubt by her father, the author of several books of penmanship. By the end of her life, she had contributed to most of the major magazines of the day, including Graham's Magazine and Godey's Magazine in her native Philadelphia. She was collected in several anthologies of women's poetry, including those by Caroline May and Thomas Buchanan Read. Most of what is known about Rand comes from the short listings in these collections (such as the one pictured).

Her poem, "The Early Called," reflects a very real understanding of the reality of death, yet the speaker is reassured by their religious conviction. The poem was first published in Graham's in May 1844:

How lovely she lies in her long, last sleep—
While the eyes that may never more smile or weep
Are veiled in their fringed lids so close
That it seems but a slumber of deep repose.
She hath gone — as the rose-tinted cloud at even
Melts slowly away in the depths of heaven;
As the bud that rises from earth to bless
Our eyes in its innocent loveliness,
But with a worm in its heart unseen,
Droops in its bower of living green,
And ere the destroyer is yet revealed,
Its petals are withered — its doom is sealed.
So the hands that cherished her opening bloom,
Must lay her low in the silent tomb,
And the eyes that were wont in pride to dwell
On the beautiful form they loved so well,
Must sadly and mournfully turn away
From the cold, cold image of senseless clay.
Oh! 'tis a bitter thing to prove.
This hopeless yearning for one we love;
To look on the face, the cheek and brow,
In their marble purity, fairer now,
To wait for one smile, and wait in vain,
From lips that never will smile again.
Oh! what in this fleeting world hath power
To stem the agony of that hour?
Alas! with a shuddering heart and stern,
From all earth's comforts and gifts we turn,
And some might think that all is dark
In the dwelling where death has set his mark;
But praised be He who alone can bless,
For He doth not leave us comfortless.
When grief lies heaviest round our home,
And a blight on our fairest hopes has come,
When we scarce can lift our heavy eyes
To our lost one's dwelling beyond the skies—
He whom we sought when our day was bright
Will tenderly guide through this dark night;
Will lighten our burdens — charm our pain,
Till our hearts are almost glad again —
And the earth-stained love we bore to Him,
'Mid snares and temptations burning dim,
So often wearied — so often cold,
He will repay it a thousand fold.

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