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There seems a shadow on the day,
Her smile no longer cheers;
A dimness on the stars of night,
Like eyes that look through tears.
Alone unto our Father's will
One thought hath reconciled;
That he whose love exceedeth ours
Hath taken home his child.
Fold her, O Father! in thine arms,
And let her henceforth be
A messenger of love between
Our human hearts and thee.
Still let her mild rebuking stand
Between us and the wrong,
And her dear memory serve to make
Our faith in goodness strong.
And grant that she, who, trembling here,
Distrusted all her powers,
May welcome to her holier home
The well-beloved of ours.
J. G. Whittier,
Te WWatched Mer Breathing.
We watched her breathing through the night,
Her breathing soft and low,
As in her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.
So silently we seemed to speak,
So slowly moved about,
As we had lent her half our powers
To eke her living out.
Our very hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied,
We thought her dying when she slept,
And sleeping when she died.
In schools of wisdom all the day was spent;
His steps at eve the Rabbi homeward bent,
With homeward thoughts which dwelt upon the wife
And two fair children who consoled his life :
She, meeting at the threshold, led him in,
And with the words preventing did begin, –
“ Ever rejoicing at your wished return,
Yet do I most so now; for since this morn
I have been much perplexed and sorely tried
Upon one point which you shall now decide.
“Some years ago a friend into my care
Some jewels gave; rich precious gems they were ;
But having given them in my charge, this friend
Did afterward nor come for them nor send,
But left them in my keeping for so long
That now it almost seems to me a wrong
That he should suddenly arrive to-day
To take those jewels which he left, away.
What think you ? Shall I freely yield them back,
And with no murmuring so henceforth to lack
Those gems myself, which I had learned to see
Almost as mine forever, mine in fee ? "
“What question can be here? Your own true heart
Must needs advise you of the only part ;
That may be claimed again which was but lent,
And should be yielded without discontent;
Nor surely can we find herein a wrong,
That it was left us to enjoy it long."
“ Good is the word,” she answered. “May we now
And evermore that it is good allow !”
And rising, to an inner chamber led,
And there she showed him, stretched upon one bed,
Two children pale; and he the jewels knew
Which God had lent him and resumed anew.
R. C. Trench.
There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there !
There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended,
But has one vacant chair !
The air is full of farewells to the dying,
And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying,
Will not be comforted !
Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
But oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;
Amid these earthly damps,
What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers
May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is transition ;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.
She is not dead, — the child of our affection, -
But gone unto that school
Where she no longer needs our poor protection,
And Christ himself doth rule.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion,
By guardian angels led,
Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution,
She lives, whom we call dead.
Day after day, we think what she is doing
In those bright realms of air ;
Year after year, her tender steps pursuing,
Behold her grown more fair.
Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken
The bond which nature gives,
Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,
May reach her where she lives.
Not as a child shall we again behold her;
For, when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her,
She will not be a child,
But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion,
Clothed with celestial grace ;
And beautiful with all the soul's expansion
Shall we behold her face.
And though, at times, impetuous with emotion
And anguish long suppressed,
The swelling heart heaves, moaning like the ocean
That cannot be at rest,
We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
We may not whoily stay;
By silence sanctifying, not concealing,
The grief that must have way.
H. W. Longfellow.
O Christ of God! whose life and death
Our own have reconciled,
Most quietly, most tenderly,
Take home this little child !
Thy grace is in her patient eyes,
Thy words are on her tongue;
The very silence round her seems
As if the angels sung.
Her smile is as a listening child's
Who hears its mother call;
The lilies of thy perfect peace
About her pillow fall.
She leans from out our clinging arms
To rest herself in thine;
Alone to thee, dear Lord, can we
Our well-beloved resign!
Oh, less for her than for ourselves
We bow our heads and pray;
Her setting star, like Bethlehem's
To thee shall point the way.
T. G. Whittier.
As tender mothers guiding baby steps,
Where places come at which the tiny feet
Would trip, lift up the little ones in arms
Of love, and set them down beyond the harm,
So did our Father watch the precious boy,
Led o'er the stones by me, who stumbled oft
Myself, but strove to help my darling on :
He saw the sweet limbs faltering, and saw
Rough ways before us, where my arms would fail;
So reached from heaven, and lifting the dear child,
Who smiled in leaving me, he put him down,
Beyond all hurt, beyond my sight, and bade
Him wait for me! Shall I not then be glad,
And, thanking God, press on to overtake ?