"The jewels of our father, with washed eyes
Cordelia leaves you. I know you what you are
And, like a sister, am most loth to tell
Your faults, as they are named. Use well our father:
To your professed bosoms I commit him.
But yet, alas!--stood I within his grace,
I would prefer him to a better place.
So farewell to you both."
- CORDELIA, unabashed and strong,
- Her voice's quite scarcely less
- Than yester-eve, enduring wrong
And curses of her father's tongue,
- Departs, a righteous-souled princess;
- Bidding her sisters cherish him.
- They turn on her and fix their eyes,
- But cease not passing inward;--one
- Sneering with lips still curled to lies,
Sinuous of body, serpent-wise;
- Her footfall creeps, and her looks shun
- The very thing on which they dwell.
- The other, proud, with heavy cheeks
- And massive forehead, where remains
- A mark of frowning. If she seeks
With smiles to tame her eyes, or speaks,
- Her mouth grows wanton: she disdains
- The ground with haughty, measured steps.
- The silent years had grown between
- Father and daughter. Always she
- Had waited on his will, and been
Foremost in doing it, unseen
- Often: she wished him not to see,
- But served him for his sake alone.
- He saw her constant love; and, tho'
- Occasion surely was not scant,
- Perhaps had never sought to know
How she could give it wording. So
- His love, not stumbling at a want,
- Among the three preferred her first.
- Her's is the soul not stubborn, yet
- Asserting self. The heart was rich;
- But, questioned, she had rather let
Men judge her conscious of a debt
- Than freely giving: thus, her speech
- Is love according to her bond.
- In France the queen Cordelia had
- Her hours well satisfied with love:
- She loved her king, too, and was glad:
And yet, at times, a something sad,
- May be, was with her, thinking of
- The manner of his life at home.
But this does not usurp her mind.
- It is but sorrow guessed from far
- Thro' twilight dimly. She must find
Her duty elsewhere: not resigned--
- Because she knows them what they are,
- Yet scarcely ruffled from her peace.
Cordelia--a name well revered;
- Synonymous with truth and tried
- Affection; which but needs be heard
To raise one selfsame thought endeared
- To men and women far and wide;
- A name our mothers taught to us.
Like placid faces which you knew
- Years since, but not again shall meet;
- On a sick bed like wind that blew;
An excellent thing, best likened to
- Her own voice, gentle, soft, and sweet;
- SHAKSPERE'S CORDELIA;--better thus.
Last modified 12/13/95