1793–1835
portrait

Sep­tem­ber 25, 1793, Li­ver­pool, Eng­land.

May 16, 1835, Dub­lin, Ire­land.

St. Ann’s Church, Daw­son Street, Dub­lin, Ire­land.

portrait

In 1800, Fe­li­cia’s fa­ther hav­ing suf­fered se­vere bus­i­ness loss­es, the He­mans fam­i­ly moved to near Aber­gele, North Wales.

In 1812, Fe­li­cia mar­ried Cap­tain He­mans, who, on re­tir­ing from the ar­my some­time af­ter, moved to Bronnylfa (near St. Asaph).

Some years later, he left his wife and children and went to Italy, where he died. In 1828, Fe­li­cia moved to Wa­ver­tree, near Li­ver­pool, and in 1831 to Du­blin. Her works in­clude:

Sitting at the tea-table one ev­en­ing, near a cen­tu­ry ago, Mrs. Hemans read an old ac­count of the Land­ing of the Pil­grims, and was in­spired to write this poem, which be­came a fa­vo­rite in Am­er­i­ca—like her­self, and all her other works.

The bal­lad is in­ac­cu­rate in de­tails, but pr­esents the spir­it of the scene with true spir­it in­sight. Mr. James T. Fields, the not­ed Bos­ton pub­lish­er, vis­it­ed the la­dy in her old age, and re­ceived an au­to­graph co­py of the po­em, which is seen in Pil­grim Hall, Ply­mouth, Mass.

Brown, p. 323

THE BREAKING WAVES DASHED HIGH

The breaking waves dashed high,
On a stern and rockbound coast,
And the woods against a stormy sky,
Their giant branches tossed,
And the heavy night hunk dark,
The hills and waters o’er,
When a band of exiles moored their bark
On the wild New England Shore.

Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted, came;
Not with the roll of stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame;
Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear—
They shook the depths of the desert’s gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.

Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard and the sea!
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods
Rang to the anthem of the free!
The ocean eagle soared from his nest
By the white waves’ foam,
And the rocking pines of the forest roared—
This was their welcome home!

There were men with hoary hair
Amidst that pilgrim band—
Why had they come to wither there,
Away from their childhood’s land?
There was woman’s fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love’s truth;
There was manhood’s brow, serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.

What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas? the spoils of war?
They sought a faith’s pure shrine!
Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod;
They left unstained what there they found—
Freedom to worship God.

Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans, 1828

  1. Answer Me, Burn­ing Stars of Light
  2. Breaking Waves Dashed High, The
  3. Calm on the Bo­som of Thy God
  4. Child, Amidst the Flow­ers at Play
  5. Church of Our Fa­thers, So Dear to Our Souls, The
  6. Come to Me, Dreams of Hea­ven
  7. Come to the Land of Peace
  8. Earth! Guard What Here We Lay in Ho­ly Trust
  9. Father! Who in the Ol­ive Shade
  10. Father, Who Art on High
  11. Fear Was With­in the Toss­ing Bark
  12. He Knelt, the Sav­ior Knelt and Prayed
  13. I Hear Thee Speak of the Bet­ter Land
  14. Kings of Old Have Shrine and Tomb, The
  15. Leaves Have Their Time to Fall
  16. Lowly and Sol­emn Be Thy Chil­dren’s Cry to Thee
  17. No Cloud Ob­scures the Sum­mer’s Sky
  18. Now Autumn Strews on Ev­ery Plain
  19. O Love­ly Voic­es of the Sky
  20. Praise Ye the Lord! On Ev­e­ry Height
  21. Savior, Now Re­ceive Him
  22. Where Is the Tree the Pro­phet Threw?