“To a Lady Weeping in Church” by Charles Fenno Hoffman

by Ann Neilson

The earliest I can date this poem is 1825, although I do not believe it was printed until 1844, where it was published in Hoffman’s poetry anthology, The Echo. The year 1825 comes from a note appended to the poem, which remarks, “Albany, 1825.” This is significant as it demonstrates some of Hoffman’s earliest poetry. This particular poem would have been written at age 18/19.

To a Lady Weeping in Church
Charles Fenno Hoffman

WHEN tears from such as thee bedew the cheek,
In scenes like this—’twould seem that heavenly eyes
The soften’d glories of religion speak,
And claim the dewdrop from their kindred skies.

‘Tis said that female saints of other days
From grovelling guilt could purge the foulest breast,
And teach the poor deluded wretch the ways
That lead to mansions of eternal rest.

And who could look upon thy heavenly face,
Nor feel his breast with sacred fervor glow ;
While every tear that fell from thee would chase
Each thought that link’d him to this world below.

If then one tear of thine—one murmur’d sigh,
Can tune the heart to sacred scenes like this,
Why doubt the power to lure the soul on high,
And lead it captive to the realms of bliss?