To My Dear Grandmother, On Her 80th Birth Day by Grizelda Elizabeth Cottnam Tonge

How oft from honor’d Certia’s* hallow’d lyre
In tones harmonious this lov’d theme has flowed —
Each strain, while breathing all the poet’s fire,
The feeling heart and fertile fancy showed;
Oft times, in childhood, my young mind has glowed
While dwelling on her sweet descriptive lay —
Oh, that the power had been on me bestowed!
A tribute fitting for the theme to pay! —
With joy I’d touch each string to welcome in this day.

But thou wilt not despise the humbler song
Though genius decks it not; — though rude and wild
Its numbers are: — ah! surely no, for long
Thy kindness I have proved: while yet a child,
Pleased I have sought the Muse, and oft beguiled
With her low plaintive tones the passing hour;
On the young effort thou has sweetly smiled,
And reared my mind, even as an opening flower,
Watching with anxious love each new expanding power.

Oh! more than parent! friend unequalled! how
Can I my love for thee express! or say
With what a fervent, what a hallowed glow,
I hail thy mental beauty through decay!
While I thy venerable form survey,
Though eighty lengthened years have scatter’d snow
Upon thy honored head; though sorrow’s seal
Is stamped with heavy pressure on thy brow,
Thine is an angel’s mind, and oh! I feel
It gives an angel’s look, which age can never steal!

Thy soul has long been ripening for its God,
And when he calls it I should not repine;
But nature still must mourn, and o’er thy sod
I know no tears will faster fall than mine:
I know the bitter anguish that will twine
Around my heart strings: — but the thought is pain;
I will not think that I must soon resign
What I can never find on earth again —
Oh, that blessed prize has not been lent in vain!

For I do hope thy firm but mild controul,
Thy precepts and example may have shone
With rays of brightness o’er my youthful soul,
Which will my pathway light when thou art gone;
And when before thy Father’s mercy throne
Thou join’st with myriads in the holy song,
If it may be, wilt thou on me look down,
And watch my faultering footsteps while along,
This busy maze I pass, and warn me still from wrong?

*The poet is addressing her great grandmother, Deborah How Cottnam, who is said to have published her poetry under the name Portia. However, Certia is what was printed in this publication.

From: “The Fount” in Acadian Reporter, 5 March 1825 Vol. 13 No. 10, p. 4.

Date: 1825

By: Grizelda Elizabeth Cottnam Tonge (1803-1825)

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