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Maria White Lowell
1821 - 1853

 (NOTE:  The first wife of James Russell Lowell.  Frail and plagued with ill health, she died at the age of 32. )


Soft hangs the opiate in the brain,

And lulling soothes the edge of pain,

Till harshest sound, far off or near,

Sings floating in its mellow sphere.

What wakes me from my heavy dream?

Or am I still asleep?

Those long and soft vibrations seem

A slumbrous charm to keep.

The graceful play, a moment stopp'd,

Distance again unrolls,

Like silver balls that, softly dropp'd,

Ring into golden bowls.

I question of the poppies red,

The fairy flaunting band,

While I, a weed with drooping head

Within their phalanx stand:

"Some airy one, with scarlet cap !

The name unfold to me

Of this new minstrel who can lap

Sleep in his melody ! "

Bright grew their scarlet kerchief'd heads,

As freshening winds had blown,

And from their gently-swaying beds

They sang in undertone: ---

"O he is but a little Owl,

The smallest of his kin,

Who sits beneath the Midnight's cowl

And makes this airy din. "

"Deceitful tongues of fiery tints !

Far more than this ye know:

That he is your Enchanted Prince

Doom'd as an Owl to go."

"Now his fond play for years hath stopp'd

But nightly he unrolls

His silver ball that, softly dropp'd,

Ring into golden bowls."


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