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“O God !" she cried in accents wild, "If I must perish, save my child !"
She stripped her mantle from her breast,
And bared her bosom to the storm, And round the child she wrapped the vest,
And smiled to think her babe was warm. With one cold kiss, one tear she shed, And sunk upon her snowy bed. At dawn a traveller passed by,
And saw her 'neath a snowy veil ; The frost of death was in her eye,
Her cheek was cold and hard and pale. He moved the robe from off the child, The babe looked up and sweetly smiled !
There's Bell with her bonnet of satin sheen,
And Kate with her scarlet feather.
Under my window, under my window,
Leaning stealthily over,
Of each glad-hearted rover.
As merry as bees in clover.
Under my window, under my window,
In the blue Midsummer weather,
I catch them all together :
And Kate with the scarlet feather.
SEVEN TIMES FOUR.
Under my window, under my window,
And off through the orchard closes; While Maud she flouts, and Bell she pouts,
They scamper and drop their posies; But dear little Kate takes naught amiss, And leaps in my arms with a loving kiss,
And I give her all my roses.
Fair yellow daffodils, stately and tall !
In my poor mind it is most sweet to muse
Heigh-ho! daisies and buttercups !
Mother shall thread them a daisy chain;
full fain ;
be but narrow,"
Heigh-ho ! daisies and buttercups,
Sweet wagging cowslips, they bend and they
THE MOTHER'S SACRIFICE.
A ship sails afar over warm ocean waters,
And haply one musing doth stand at her prow'.
The cold winds swept the mountain's height,
And pathless was the dreary wild,
A mother wandered with her child :
And darker hours of night came on,
Her limbs were chilled, her strength was gone.
Heigh-ho! daisies and buttercups,
Fair yellow daffodils, stately and tall
I met a little cottage girl :
She was eight years old, she said ;
That clustered round her head.
She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad ; Those weary, happy days did leave ?
Her eyes were fair, and very fair ;
Her beauty made me glad.
“Sisters and brothers, little maid, E'en now that nameless kiss I feel.
How many may you be ?"
And wondering looked at me.
“And where are they? I pray you tell." There's no rain left in heaven.
She answered, “Seven are we; I've said my seven times" over and over,
And two of us at Conway dwell, Seven times one are seven.
And two are gone to sea ;
I am old, — se old I can write a letter;
“ Two of us in the churchyard lie, My birthday lessons are done.
My sister and my brother ;
Dwell near them with my mother.”
O Moon! in the night I have seen you sailing “You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
I pray you tell, is failing;
Sweet maid, how this may be." You are nothing now but a bow.
Then did the little maid reply, You Moon ! have you done something wrong in “Seven boys and girls are we; heaven,
Two of us in the churchyard lie
Beneath the churchyard tree.”
“You run about, my little maid ;
Your limbs they are alive ; O velvet Bee! you 're a dusty fellow,
If two are in the churchyard laid,
Then ye are only five."
“Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little maid replied :
Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side.
“My stockings there I often knit, And show me your nest, with the young ones in
My kerchief there I hem ;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.
“ And often after sunset, sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.
“ The first that died was Sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain ;
And then she went away.
Sorrows I've had, severe ones,
I will not think of now ;
But when thy fingers press
And pat my stooping head, I cannot bear the gentleness,
The tears are in their bed.
Ah, first-born of thy mother,
When life and hope were new;
My light, where'er I go ;
My bird, when prison-bound ; My hand-in-hand companion — No,
My prayers shall hold thee round.
And the while that bonny bird did pour
'Neath the morning skies,
From the brown, bright eyes.
And from out the tree
PICTURES OF MEMORY.
Little Bell sat down amid the fern : “Squirrel, Squirrel, to your task return;
Bring me nuts," quoth she. Up, away! the frisky Squirrel hies, Golden wood-lights glancing in his eyes,
And adown the tree Great ripe nuts, kissed brown by July sun, In the little lap drop one by one. Hark, how Blackbird pipes to see the fun!
“Happy Bell !" pipes he.
Among the beautiful pictures
That hang on Memory's wall Is one of a dim old forest,
That seemeth best of all; Not for its gnarled oaks olden,
Dark with the mistletoe ; Not for the violets golden
That sprinkle the vale below; Not for the milk-white lilies
That lean from the fragrant ledge, Coquetting all day with the sunbeams,
And stealing their golden edge ; Not for the vines on the upland,
Where the bright red berries rest, Nor the pinks, uor the pale sweet cowslip,
It seemeth to me the best.
Little Bell looked up and down the glade:
Comic and share with me!”
Ah ! the merry three !
And the while those frolic playmates tvain Piped and friskel from bough to bough again,
'Neath the morning skies, In the little childish heart below All the sweetness secnied to grow and grow, Ani shine out in happy overflow
From her brown, bright eyes.
By her snow-white cot, at close of day,
Very calm and clear
Paused awhile to hear.
I once had a little brother,
With eyes that were dark and deep; In the lap of that old dim forest
He lieth in peace asleep : Light as the down of the thistle,
Free as the winds that blow,
The summers of long ago ;
And, one of the autumn eves,
A bed of the yellow leaves. Sweetly his pale arms folded
My neck in a meek embrace, As the light of immortal beauty
Silently covered his face ; And when the arrows of sunset
Lodged in the tree-tops bright, He fell, in his saint-like beauty,
Asleep by the gates of light. Therefore, of all the pictures
That hang on Memory's wall, The one of the dim old forest
Seemeth the best of all.
"What good child is this," the angel said, "That with happy heart beside her bed
Prays so lovingly ?" Low and soft, 0, very low and soft, Croored the Blackbird in the orchard croft,
“Bell, dear Bell !" crooned he.
“Whom God's creatures love," the angel fair Murmured, “God doth bless with angels' care ;
Child, thy bed shall be Folded safe from harm. Love, deep and kind, Shall watch around and leave good gifts behind,
Little Bell, for thee !"
It never did, to pages wove
For gay romance, belong. It never dedicate did move As “Sacharissa," unto love,
“Orinda," unto song. Though I write books, it will be read
Upon the leaves of none, And afterward, when I am dead, Will ne'er be graved for sight or tread,
Across my funeral-stone.
This name, whoever chance to call
Perhaps your smile may win. Nay, do not smile! mine eyelids fall Over mine eyes, and feel withal
The sudden tears within.
Is there a leaf that greenly grows
Where summer meadows bloom, But gathereth the winter snows, And changeth to the hue of those,
If lasting till they come ?
Is there a word, or jest, or game,
But time encrusteth round With sad associate thoughts the same ? And so to me my very name
Assumes a mournful sound.
My brother gave that name to me
When we were children twain, When names acquired baptismally Were hard to utter, as to see
That life had any pain.
No shade was on us then, save one
Of chestnuts from the hill, – And through the word our laugh did run As part thereof. The mirth being done,
He calls me by it still.
My name to me a sadness wears ;
No murmurs cross my mind.
Sweet memories left behind.
Now God be thanked for years enwrought
With love which softens yet.
Earth's guerdon of regret.
Earth saddens, never shall remove,
Affections purely given ;
And heighten it with Heaven.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
THE THREE SONS. I HAVE a son, a little son, a boy just five years
old, With eyes of thoughtful earnestness, and mind
of gentle mould. They tell me that unusual grace in all his ways
appears, That my child is grave and wise of heart beyond
his childish years. I cannot say how this may be ; I know his face
is fair, And yet his chiefest comeliness is his sweet and
serious air ; I know his heart is kind and fond ; I know he
loveth me ; But loveth yet his mother more with grateful
fervency. But that which others most admire, is the thought
which fills his mind, The food for grave inquiring speech he every
where doth find. Strange questions doth he ask of me, when we
together walk; He scarcely thinks as children think, or talks as
children talk. Nor cares he much for childish sports, dotes not
on bat or ball, But looks on manhood's ways and works, and
aptly mimics all. His little heart is busy still, and oftentimes per
plext With thoughts about this world of ours, and
thoughts about the next. He kneels at his dear mother's knee ; she teacheth
him to pray ; And strange and sweet and solemn then are the
words which he will say.
Nay, do not smile! I hear in it
What none of you can hear, The talk upon the willow seat, The bird and wind that did repeat
Around, our human cheer.
I hear the birthday's noisy bliss,
My sisters' woodland glee, My father's praise I did not miss, When, stooping down, he cared to kiss
The poet at his knee,
And voices which, to name me, aye
Their tenderest tones were keeping, To some I nevermore can say An answer, till God wipes away
In heaven these drops of wecping.