January 5, 2013

Birth of Rand: Do ye miss me?

Marion H. Rand was born in Philadelphia on January 5, 1824, though she eventually moved to South Carolina (where she died at age 25). Her writing began as a hobby when she was 8, though she was published by age 14. Her work was accepted by popular magazines and journals including Graham's and Godey's Lady's Book. Her early death, said some critics, prevented her from realizing her full potential as a poet. Nevertheless, her work was collected in major anthologies of women's writing, including The Female Poets of America, edited by Thomas Buchanan Read, and American Female Poets, edited by Caroline May.

Very little is recorded of the life of Marion Rand, as she achieved no substantial fame in her lifetime. Her poem "Home," however, may glance at her own family life and, if autobiographical, demonstrates a tender feeling marked by her absence from them. The poem begins with the adage "Absence makes the heart grow fonder":

Do ye miss me, dear ones, when from our loved home
   So long this yearning spirit hath been parted?
And do ye look with longings like mine own
   To welcome back again the weary-hearted?
                            Do ye miss me yet?

In the bright morning hour, when I was ever
   The first to greet thee at the social board,
Thou, who though often saddened, yet didst never
   Withhold thine answering smile and loving word,
                            My gentle Mother.

When to our daily tasks together turning,
   Thou who wert ever with me, day by day,
Thy young companions and their pleasures scorning,
   Lest I should be too lonely on my way,
                            My merry Brother.

When at the midday meal again unbroken
   Our little circle met, e'en now I see
My Mother's look of chiding, yet unspoken,
   When I forgot the reverence due to thee,
                            Our first, "our Eldest."

In the cool twilight hour, when we would gather
   In playful converse, and thy toils were o'er,
Dost thou not miss me? too, my graver Brother,
   Now that thy loving arm can clasp no more
                            Thine absent Sister?

When darker night closed in, and early seeking
   My quiet couch, there peacefully to rest,
How I recall that glance so fondly speaking,
   As thou wouldst draw me to thy care-worn breast,
                            My dear, kind Father.

And thou, bright cherub in thy path of flowers,
   Strown by the hand of love afresh each day,
Thou hast not known the pang of lonely hours,
   Thou hast not missed me on thy gladsome way,
                            Our household darling.

But through the long, long day, in every hour,
   In all the heart can feel, the eye can see,
Hast thou not felt the parting's bitter power?
   Hast thou not missed me, e'en as I miss thee,
                            My own sweet Sister?

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