The Sinless Child Part 1
Whilom ago, in lowly life,
Young Eva lived and smiled,
A fair-haired girl, of wondrous truth,
And blameless from a child.
Gentle she was, and full of love,
With voice exceeding sweet,
And eyes of dove-like tenderness,
Where joy and sadness meet.
No Father's lip her brow had kissed,
Or breathed for her a prayer;
The widowed breast on which she slept,
Was full of doubt and care;
And oft was Eva's little cheek
Heaved by her mother's sigh—
And oft the widow shrunk in fear
From her sweet baby's eye,
For she would lift her pillowed head
To look within her face,
With something of reproachfulness,
As well as infant grace,—
A trembling lip, an earnest eye,
Half smiling, half in tears,
As she would seek to comprehend
The secret of her fears.
Her ways were gentle while a babe,
With calm and tranquil eye,
That turned instinctively to seek
The blueness of the sky.
A holy smile was on her lip
Whenever sleep was there,
She slept, as sleeps the blossom, hushed
Amid the silent air.
And ere she left with tottling steps
The low-roofed cottage door,
The beetle and the cricket loved
The young child on the floor;
For every insect dwelt secure
Where little Eva played;
And piped for her its blithest song
When she in greenwood strayed;
With wing of gauze and mailèd coat
They gathered round her feet,
Rejoiced, as are all gladsome things,
A truthful soul to greet.
They taught her infant lips to sing
With them a hymn of praise,
The song that in the woods is heard,
Through the long summer days.
And everywhere the child was traced
By snatches of wild song,
That marked her feet along the vale,
Or hill-side, fleet and strong.
She knew the haunts of every bird—
Where bloomed the sheltered flower,
So sheltered, that the searching frost
Might scarcely find its bower.
No loneliness young Eva knew,
Though playmates she had none;
Such sweet companionship was hers,
She could not be alone;
For everything in earth or sky
Caressed the little child,
The joyous bird upon the wing,
The blossom in the wild:
Much dwelt she on the green hill-side,
And under forest tree;
Beside the running, babbling brook,
Where lithe trout sported free—
She saw them dart, like stringed gems,
Where the tangled roots were deep,
And learned that love for evermore
The heart will joyful keep.
She loved all simple flowers that spring
In grove or sun-lit dell,
And of each streak and varied hue
Would pretty meanings tell.
For her a language was impressed
On every leaf that grew,
And lines revealing brighter worlds
That seraph fingers drew.
The opening bud that lightly swung
Upon the dewy air,
Moved in its very sportiveness
Beneath angelic care;
She saw that pearly fingers oped
Each curved and painted leaf,
And where the canker-worm had been
Were looks of angel grief.
Each tiny leaf became a scroll
Inscribed with holy truth,
A lesson that around the heart
Should keep the dew of youth;
Bright missals from angelic throngs
In every by-way left,
How were the earth of glory shorn,
Were it of flowers bereft!
They tremble on the Alpine height;
The fissured rock they press;
The desert wild, with heat and sand,
Shares too, their blessedness,
And wheresoe'er the weary heart
Turns in its dim despair,
The meek-eyed blossom upward looks
Inviting it to prayer.
The widow's cot was rude and low,
The sloping roof moss-grown;
And it would seem its quietude
To every bird were known,
The winding vine quaint tendrils wove
Round roof and oaken door,
And by the flickering light, the leaves
Were painted on the floor.
No noxious reptile ever there
A kindred being sought,
The good and beautiful alone
Delighted in the spot.
The very winds were hushed to peace
Within the quiet dell,
Or murmured through the rustling bough
Like breathings of a shell.
The red-breast sang from sheltering tree,
Gay blossoms clustered round,
And one small brook came dancing by,
With a sweet tinkling sound.
Staining the far-off meadow green
It leaped a rocky dell
And resting by the cottage door,
In liquid music fell.
Upon its breast white lilies slept,
Of pure and wax-like hue,
And brilliant flowers upon the marge
They were of rare and changeless birth,
Nor needed toil nor care;
And many marvelled earth could yield
Aught so exceeding fair.
Young Eva said, all noisome weeds
Would pass from earth away,
When virtue in the human heart
Held its predestined sway;
Exalted thoughts were alway hers,
Some deemed them strange and wild;
And hence in all the hamlets round,
Her name of SINLESS CHILD.
Her mother told how Eva's lips
Had never falsehood known;
No angry word had ever marred
The music of their tone.
And truth spake out in every line
Of her fair tranquil face,
Where Love and Peace, twin-dwelling pair,
Had found a resting-place.
She felt the freedom and the light
The pure in heart may know—
Whose blessed privilege it is
To walk with God below;
Who see a hidden beauty traced,
That others may not see,
Who feel a life within the heart,
And love and mystery.
The Sinless Child Part 2
Untiring all the weary day
The widow toiled with care,
And scarcely cleared her furrowed brow
When came the hour of prayer;
The voices, that on every side,
The prisoned soul call forth,
And bid it in its freedom walk,
Rejoicing in the earth;
Fall idly on a deafened ear,
A heart untaught to thrill
When music gusheth from the bird,
Or from the crystal rill;
She moves unheeding by the flower
With its ministry of love,
And feels no sweet companionship,
With silent stars above.
Alas! that round the human soul
The cords of earth should bind,
That they should bind in darkness down
The light—discerning mind—
That all its freshness, freedom, gone,
Its destiny forgot,
It should, in gloomy discontent,
Bewail its bitter lot.
But Eva, while she turned the wheel,
Or toiled in homely guise,
With buoyant life was all abroad,
Beneath the pleasant skies;
And sang all day from lightsome heart,
From joy that in her dwelt,
That evermore the soul is free,
To go where joy is felt.
All lowly and familiar things
In earth, or air, or sky,
A lesson brought to Eva's mind
Of import deep and high;
She learned, from blossom in the wild,
From bird upon the wing,
From silence and the midnight stars,
Truth dwells in everything.
The careless winds that round her played
Brought voices to her ear,
But Eva, pure in thought and soul,
Dreamed never once of fear—
The whispered words of angel lips
She heard in forest wild,
And many a holy spell they wrought,
About the Sinless Child.
And much she loved the forest walk,
Where round the shadows fell,
The solitude of mountain height,
Or green and lowly dell;
The brook dispensing verdure round,
And singing on its way,
Now coyly hid in fringe of green,
Now wild in sparkling play.
She early marked the butterfly,
That gay, mysterious thing,
That, bursting from its prison-house
Appeared on golden wing;
It had no voice to speak delight,
Yet on the floweret's breast,
She saw it mute and motionless,
In long, long rapture rest.
She said, that while the little shroud
Beneath the casement hung,
A kindly spirit lingered near,
As dimly there it swung;
That music sweet and low was heard
To hail the perfect life,
And Eva felt that insect strange
With wondrous truth was rife.
It crawled no more a sluggish thing
Upon the lowly earth;
A brief, brief sleep, and then she saw
A new and radiant birth;
And thus she learned without a doubt,
That man from death would rise,
As did the butterfly on wings,
To claim its native skies.
The rainbow, bending o'er the storm,
A beauteous language told;
For angels, twined with loving arms,
She plainly might behold,
And in their glorious robes they bent
To earth in wondrous love,
As they would lure the human soul
To brighter things above.
The bird would leave the rocking branch
Upon her hand to sing,
And upward turn its fearless eye
And plume its glossy wing,
And Eva listened to the song,
Till all the sense concealed
In that deep gushing forth of joy,
Became to her revealed.
And when the bird a nest would build,
A spirit from above
Directed all the pretty work,
And filled its heart with love.
And she within the nest would peep
The colored eggs to see,
But never touch the dainty things,
For a thoughtful child was she.
Much Eva loved the twilight hour,
When shadows gather round,
And softer sings the little bird,
And insect from the ground;
She felt that this within the heart
Must be the hour of prayer,
For even earth in quietude
Did own its Maker there.
The still moon in the saffron sky
Hung out her silver thread,
And the bannered clouds in gorgeous folds
A mantle round her spread.
The gentle stars came smiling down
Upon the brilliant sky,
That looked a meet and glorious dome,
For worship pure and high;
And Eva lingered, though the gloom
Had deepened into shade;
And many thought that spirits came
To teach the Sinless Maid,
For oft her mother sought the child
Amid the forest glade,
And marvelled that in darksome glen,
So tranquilly she stayed.
For every jagged limb to her
A shadowy semblance hath,
Of spectres and distorted shapes,
That frown upon her path,
And mock her with their hideous eyes;
For when the soul is blind
To freedom, truth, and inward light,
Vague fears debase the mind:
But Eva like a dreamer waked,
Looked off upon the hill,
And murmured words of strange, sweet sound,
As if there lingered still
Ethereal forms with whom she talked,
Unseen by all beside;
And she with earnest looks, besought
The vision to abide.
'Oh Mother! Mother! do not speak,
Or all will pass away,
The spirits leave the green-hill side,
Where light the breezes play;
They sport no more by ringing brook,
With daisy dreaming by;
Nor float upon the fleecy cloud
That steals along the sky.
It grieves me much they never will
A human look abide,
But veil themselves in silver mist
By vale or mountain side.
I feel their presence round me still,
Though none to sight appear;
I feel the motion of their wings,
Their whispered language hear.
With silvery robe, and wings outspread,
They passed me even now;
And gems and starry diadem
Decked every radiant brow.
Intent were each on some kind work
Of pity or of love,
Dispensing from their healing wings
The blessings from above.
With downy pinion they enfold
The heart surcharged with wo,
And fan with balmy wing the eye
Whence floods of sorrow flow;
They bear, in golden censers up,
That sacred gift, a tear;
By which is registered the griefs,
Hearts may have suffered here.
No inward pang, no yearning love
Is lost to human hearts,
No anguish that the spirit feels,
When bright-winged hope departs;
Though in the mystery of life
Discordant powers prevail;
That life itself be weariness,
And sympathy may fail:
Yet all becomes a discipline,
To lure us to the sky;
And angels bear the good it brings
With fostering care on high,
Though human hearts may weary grow,
And sink to toil-spent sleep,
And we are left in solitude,
And agony to weep:
Yet they with ministering zeal,
The cup of healing bring,
And bear our love and gratitude
Away, on heavenward wing;
And thus the inner life is wrought,
The blending earth and heaven;
The love more earnest in its glow,
Where much has been forgiven!
I would, dear Mother, thou couldst see
Within this darksome veil,
That hides the spirit-land from thee,
And makes our sunshine pale;
The toil of earth, its doubt and care,
Would trifles seem to thee;
Repose would rest upon thy soul.
And holy mystery.
Thou wouldst behold protecting care
To shield thee on thy way,
And ministers to guard thy feet,
Lest erring, they should stray;
And order, sympathy, and love,
Would open to thine eye,
From simplest creature of the earth
To seraph throned on high.
E'en now I marked a radiant throng,
On soft wing sailing by,
To sooth with hope the trembling heart,
And cheer the dying eye;
They smiling passed the lesser sprites,
Each on his work intent;
And love and holy joy I saw
In every face were blent.
The tender violets bent in smiles
To elves that sported nigh,
Tossing the drops of fragrant dew
To scent the evening sky.
They kissed the rose in love and mirth,
And its petals fairer grew,
A shower of pearly dust they brought,
And o'er the lily threw.
A host flew round the mowing field,
And they were showering down
The cooling spray on the early grass,
Like diamonds o'er it thrown;
They gemmed each leaf and quivering spear
With pearls of liquid dew,
And bathed the stately forest tree,
Till his robe was fresh and new.
I saw a meek-eyed creature curve
The tulip's painted cup,
And bless with one soft kiss the urn,
Then fold the petals up.
A finger rocked the young bird's nest,
As high on a branch it hung.
And the gleaming night-dew rattled down,
Where the old dry leaf was flung.
Each and all, as its task is done,
Soars up with a joyous eye,
Bearing aloft some treasured gift—
An offering ON HIGH.
They bear the breath of the odorous flower,
The sound of the bright-sea shell;
And thus they add to the holy joys
Of the home where spirits dwell.