“Seldom we find,” says Solomon Don Dunce, “Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet. Through all the flimsy things we see at once As easily as through a Naples bonnet— Trash of all trash!—how can a lady don it? Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff- Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.” And, veritably, Sol is right enough. The general tuckermanities are arrant Bubbles—ephemeral and so transparent— But this is, now,—you may depend upon it— Stable, opaque, immortal—all by dint Of the dear names that lie concealed within ‘t.
1847. TO MY MOTHER
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above, The angels, whispering to one another, Can find, among their burning terms of love, None so devotional as that of “Mother,” Therefore by that dear name I long have called you— You who are more than mother unto me, And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you In setting my Virginia’s spirit free. My mother—my own mother, who died early, Was but the mother of myself; but you Are mother to the one I loved so dearly, And thus are dearer than the mother I knew By that infinity with which my wife Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.
[The above was addressed to the poet’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm—Ed.]