« PreviousContinue »
We held it as the leaves of life
In hidden silent service fold
About a Rose's heart of gold, So jealous of all outer strife !
One day she pined up in our face
With a low cry we could not still,
A moaning we could never heal, For sleep in some more quiet place.
The look grew pleading in her eyes,
And mournful as the lonesome light
That in a window burns all night, Asking for stillness, when one dies.
The hand of Death so coldly clings,
So strongly draws the weak life-wave
Into his dark, vast, silent cave; Our little Dove must use its wings !
And so it sought the dearer nest;
A little way across the sea
It kept us winged company, Then sank into its leafier rest.
And left us day by day to feel
A sadness in the sweetest words,
A broken heartstring mid the chords, A tone more tremulous when we kneel.
The stars that shone in her dear eyes
May be a little while withdrawn
To rise and lead the eternal dawn For us, up heaven in other skies.
Our bird of God but soars and sings :
Oft when life's heaving wave's at rest,
She makes her mirror in my breast, I feel a winnowing of wings.
Be good! and you shall find her where
No wind can shake the wee bird's nest;
No dreams can break the wee bird's rest
No echoes of old storms gone by!
Earth's sorrows slumber peacefully;
The weary are at rest, and He
An Enfant's Death.
A snow-flake falls, from out the air above,
So seems - but when we trace the snow-flake back,
So, when from out the unknown space, there comes
So seems - but when we gather up the threads,
A Baby's Death.
The little feet that never trod
Earth, never strayed in field or street, What hand leads upward back to God
The little feet?
Their pilgrimage's period
A few swift moons have seen complete Since mother's hands first clasped and shod
The little feet.
The little hands that never sought
Earth's prizes, worthless all as sands, What gift has death, God's servant, brought
The little hands?
Ere this, perchance, though love knows naught,
Flowers fill them, grown in lovelier lands,
The little hands.
The little eyes that never knew
Light other than of dawning skies,
The little eyes?
No storm, we know, may change the blue,
Soft heaven that haply death descries;
A. C. Swinburne.
The Two Mysteries.
[In the middle of the room, in its white coffin, lay the dead child, nephew of the poet. Near it, in a great chair, sat Walt Whitman, surrounded by little ones, and holding a beautiful little girl in his lap. The child looked curiously at the spectacle of death, and then inquiringly into the old man's face. “You don't know what it is, do you, my dear?” said he. “ We don't either."
We know not what it is, dear, this sleep so deep and still ;
We know not what it means, dear, this desolate heart-pain, –
But this we know: our loved and dead, if they should come this
day, – Should come and ask us, “What is life? ” not one of us could say. Life is a mystery as deep as ever death can be; Yet, oh, how sweet it is to us, this life we live and see !
Then might they say, — these vanished ones, — and blessed is the
thought!-“So death is sweet to us, beloved, though we may tell you naught : We may not tell it to the quick, — this mystery of death, Ye may not tell us, if ye would, the mystery of breath.” The child who enters life comes not with knowledge or intent, So those who enter death must go as little children sent. Nothing is known. But I believe that God is overhead; And as life is to the living, so death is to the dead.
Mary Mapes Dodge.
J. R. Lowell. On the Death of a Friend's Child.
She is Not Dead, But Sleepeth.
The baby wept;
And baby slept.
Again it weeps,