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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May be a little while withdrawn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 night, no pain, no parting there!

No echoes of old storms gone by!

Earth's sorrows slumber peacefully;

The weary are at rest, and He
Shall wipe the tears from every eye.

Gerald Massey

An Enfant's Death.

A snow-flake falls, from out the air above,
Upon some spot of ground where lingers yet
The warmth of Summer's and of Autumn's sun;
And in a moment it has passed from sight.
Most beautiful its crystal shape, a six-
Rayed star, well fitted, if it could have stayed
Until the sunlight fell thereon, to give
A wealth of rainbow-hues, to gladden all
Who saw its loveliness. Why came the flake
Of snow, to go so soon, and leave no trace ?
A useless birth, a useless death, it seems.

So seems - but when we trace the snow-flake back,
And try to image all the wondrous store
Of nature's skill in that one bit displayed,
And know how all things joined together are,
And work in harmony in this great world,
So that from furthest parts the forces come,
Which meet an instant, give the snow flake birth,
Then pass to other work - we know what seems
A triling thing, is far from being so;
In one grand thought the truth comes home to us,
That, were it not the snow-flake came to earth,
The world could not have been the same to-day.

So, when from out the unknown space, there comes
A little child to earth, which melts too soon
From out the lap which gave it birth away,
Before the sunlight love of home could give
It consciousness of life at once we ask,
Why came the babe at all, so soon to go ?
A useless birth, a useless death, it seems.

So seems - but when we gather up the threads,
The myriad threads, which bind its little life
To lives of countless thousands gone before,
To lives of countless thousands yet to come,
E’en as the rippling wave will reach at last
From hither unto farther shore, and move,
With felt or unfelt touch, all things that float
Upon the surface of the watery deep,
We know, with faith beyond the power of sight,
That not in vain the little one did come,
Did stay awhile, then pass from sight away;
The world our world at least - is not the same
As though the babe had never come to us.

Rowland Connor.

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,
Where hands of guiding angels caught

The little hands.

The little eyes that never knew

Light other than of dawning skies,
What new life now lights up anew

The little eyes?

No storm, we know, may change the blue,

Soft heaven that haply death descries;
No tears like these in ours, bedew
The little eyes.

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 ;
The folded hands, the awful calm, the cheek so pale and chill;
The lids that will not lift again, though we may call and call ;
The strange, white solitude of peace that settles over all.

We know not what it means, dear, this desolate heart-pain, –
This dread to take our daily way, and walk in it again.
We know not to what other sphere the loved who leave us go;
Nor why we're left to wonder still; nor why we do not know.

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.

God's Messengers.
Children are God's apostles, day by day
Sent forth to preach of love, and hope, and peace ;
Nor hath thy babe his mission left undone.
To me, at least, his going hence hath given
Serener thoughts and nearer to the skies,
And opened a new fountain in my heart
For thee, my friend, and all: and oh, if Death
More near approaches, meditates, and clasps,
Even now some dearer, more reluctant hand,
God, strengthen thou my faith, that I may see
That 't is thine angel who, with loving haste,
Unto the service of the inner shrine,
Doth waken thy beloved with a kiss.

J. R. Lowell. On the Death of a Friend's Child.

She is Not Dead, But Sleepeth.

The baby wept;
The mother took it from the nurse's arms,
And soothed its griefs, and stilled its vain alarms,

And baby slept.

Again it weeps,
And God doth take it from the mother's arms,
From present pain, and future unknown harms,
And baby sleeps.

Dr. Hinds.

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