Felicia Dorothea Hemans was born in 1793. She began writing poetry at an early age. In 1808, at 14, she was a published poet and gained praise for her work from fellow poets. In 1812 she was married to Captain Alfred Hemans who later leaves her with five sons in her care. Because of the need to provide for her family, Hemans continued to write poems for the monetary gain. Hemans gained literary success with the publication of The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy in 1816. As she continued to write poetry she experienced widespread success, selling large quantities of her work. Hemans was an admirer of William Wordsworth and she in return was highly regarded by Wordsworth. Following the completion of a final series of sonnets, she died from tuberculosis in 1835. By the time of her death, Hemans had come to be identified as a well-known literary figure.
The Rock of Cader Idris”
During my initial readings of Felicia Dorothea Heman’s poetry, I found myself drawn to “The Rock of Cader Idris.” This is chiefly because I was struck by her use of nature imagery to introduce what I deduced to be the process of becoming a poet and gaining poetical inspiration. She begins the poem with background information concerning an old Welsh tradition. The tradition essentially professes that whoever goes to the summit of the mountain Cader Idris and stays the night “would be found in the morning either dead, in a state of frenzy, or endowed with the highest poetical inspiration.” The poem traces the process of gaining poetical inspiration by being in and observing nature. This idea is embodied in the final stanza.
I saw what man looks on, and dies but my spirit
Was strong, and triumphantly lived through that hour;
And as from the grave, I awoke to inherit
A flame all immortal, a voice, and a power!
Day burst on that rock with the purple cloud crested,
And high Cader Idris rejoiced in the sun
But oh, what new glory all nature invested,
When the sense which gives soul to her beauty was won.