Mary Arden

Charles Harpur

To have been the mother of Shakespeare—how August a title to the reverence of infinite generations, generations, and of centuries beyond the vision of prophecy.—De Quincey.

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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