Poems on Biblical Women Characters
1. Hagar in the Desert.
Ages have pass’d, since that poor bondmaid’s sigh,
With its lone echo, on the fountain slept –
Since Hagar lifted up her voice and wept;
What time the Angel of the Lord drew nigh,
And hail’d the future mother of that child, –
Soon, in Arabian solitudes, to be
The Father of the fearless and the free,
The princes of the desert, stern and wild.
But wherefore was her tale of sorrow told?
Mourner, the chronicle should dry thy tear, – 10
The Angel of the promise spoke for thee.
’Tis now, as in the wilderness of old.
Art thou alone like Hagar? God will hear.
Art thou like her deserted? God will see.
2. Hagar again in the Desert.
Along the sandy desert she has led
That weary exiled boy – her banish’d child;
Till in her course she wanders woe-beguiled,
And further in the waste she may not tread:
No water in the cruse, – no fountain in the wild,
Save that which gushes from her burning eye,
Where agony’s hot tear is almost dry.
Be-érsheba! canst thou no shelter spread?
Yes, one there is where Abraham’s son may lie.
And she has laid him on that lowly bed, ) 10
A with’ring desert branch is o’er his head, )
While she is gone to mourn, as for the dead. )
One prayer, in her lone, deep, lamenting cry,
That Hagar may not live, beholding Ishmael die.
There is a voice above the breathing air,
A sound that sinks like silence on the soul. –
Is it the hush-note to the thunder’s roll?
No, ’tis the angel speaking, – God is there!
Hagar, – He comes to quiet thy despair.
“What aileth thee lamenting Ishmael dead?
“Arise, and lift him from his burning bed.
“Fear not – his voice is heard – his lonely prayer.
“Beside thee is the fountain, – turn and see, –
“’Tis springing in the wilderness for thee.” 10
Pilgrim, thou art but in a weary waste;
The world to thee is like Arabia’s sand;
But streams are in thy desert, – freely taste, –
And give to him that thirsteth in the land.
4. The Widow of Zarephath.
I Kings xvii. 1-16.
Poor Gentile widow! in thine hour of need,
Jehovah-jireh was thy Lord indeed.
So hath it ever been, so is it now.
And He, that watch’d thee in the famish’d land,
And sent to feed thee by his prophet’s hand,
Still hears the secret sigh, the lonely vow.
It was not till the brook of Cherith dried,
He bade thee for Elijah’s wants provide,
And thy last morsel to the stranger bring.
It was not till the famine press’d thee sore, 10
He sent the Hebrew prophet to thy door;
As once to him he sent the raven’s wing.
Oh! if thine heart had ventured to refuse
To Israel’s God, the remnant of thy cruse,
How hadst thou lost thy pure and hallow’d joy,
As day by day thy humble board was spread,
With day by day a prophet’s blessing shed
On thee, poor widow, and thine orphan boy!
And is it so? ye faithless fears, depart. –
Begone, ye sordid phantoms of the heart. – 20
Nor let us dare the wasted cruse to plead,
If He, that hath the oil and meal supplied,
Should bid us yet the scanty store divide,
And still the stranger and the prophet feed.
1. Saffery, Poems (1834), p. 14. Mary Tighe (1772-1810) also composed a poem of the same title that was published posthumously in 1811; see also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 130-31.
2. Saffery, Poems, p. 15; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 131.
3, Saffery, Poems, p. 16; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, p. 131.
2. Saffery, Poems (1834), pp. 42-3; Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 5, pp. 141-42.