It flows through old hushed Egypt and its sands,
Like some grave mighty thought threading a dream,
And times and things, as in that vision, seem
Keeping along it their eternal stands, —
Caves, pillars, pyramids, the shepherd bands
That roamed through the young world, the glory extreme
Of high Sesostris, and that southern beam,
The laughing queen that caught the world's great hands.
Then comes a mightier silence, stern and strong,
As of a world left empty of its throng,
And the void weighs on us; and then we wake,
And hear the fruitful stream lapsing along
Twixt villages, and think how we shall take
Our own calm journey on for human sake.
Mary Bryan's highly original, moody, and plaintive poems, published in
Sonnets and Metrical Tales (1815), reflect the financial and emotional difficul-
ties of her life as a widow with six children. In her preface, however, she re-
jects the piteous mode popularized by Charlotte Smith. Many of her poems
were written to her husband during their separations, although he later for-
bade her to write. She endured financial disaster, her husband's mental and
physical illness and death, and her own serious health problems. For a decade
after her husband's death, she took charge of the family's printing business.
“My own Maria!—Ah my own—my own!”
Withheld my steps in such entreating tone,
I turned—so meek a form I could not fear,
I pressed the extended hand and bathed it with a tear.—
I stood as I could never leave that place,
Yet would have spoken, would have turned away:—
“My own Maria!”—gazing on my face,
As one long lost to him, did that lorn maniac say.
I could not speak—so lovely was the joy
The maniac showed, 'twere cruel to destroy;
And I had seen him look so lost in woe,
That if I were not his—I could not tell him so.
“My own Maria!”—with such tender grace,