Alice Cary

April 26, 1820 - 1871



by Alice Cary

Her white hands full of mountain flowers,
Down by the rough rocks and the sea,
Helva, the raven-tressed, for hours,
Has gazed forth earnestly.

Unconscious that the salt spray flecks
The ebon beauty of her hair --
What vision is it she expects,
So meekly lingering there?

Is it to see the sea-fog lift
From the broad bases of the hills,
Or the red moonlight's golden drift,
That her soft bosom thrills?

Or yet to see the starry hours
Their silver network round her throw,
That 'neath the white hands full of flowers,
Her heart heaves to and fro?

Why strains so far the aching eye?
Kind nature wears to-night no frown,
And the still beauty of the sky
Keeps the mad ocean down.

Why are those damp and heavy locks
Put back, the faintest sound to win?
Ah! where the beacon lights the rocks,
A ship is riding in!

Who comes forth to the vessel's side,
Leaning upon the manly arm
Of one who wraps with tender pride
The mantle round her form?

Oh, Helva, watcher of lone hours,
May God in mercy give thee aid!
Thy cheek is whiter than thy flowers --
Thy woman's heart betrayed!


Copyright 1855
Boston: Ticknor And Fields