Could we forget the widow'd hour And look on Spirits breathed away, As on a maiden in the day When first she wears her orange-flower!
When crown'd with blessing she doth rise To take her latest leave of home, And hopes and light regrets that come Make April of her tender eyes;
And doubtful joys the father move, And tears are on the mother's face, As parting with a long embrace She enters other realms of love;
Her office there to rear, to teach, Becoming as is meet and fit A link among the days, to knit The generations each with each;
And, doubtless, unto thee is given A life that bears immortal fruit In those great offices that suit The full-grown energies of heaven.
Ay me, the difference I discern! How often shall her old fireside Be cheer'd with tidings of the bride, How often she herself return,
And tell them all they would have told, And bring her babe, and make her boast, Till even those that miss'd her most Shall count new things as dear as old:
But thou and I have shaken hands, Till growing winters lay me low; My paths are in the fields I know. And thine in undiscover'd lands.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam A. H. H., Canto XL