All this blessed summer morning,
With the golden sunlight round me,
Has my heart bowed down, o'erburdened
With its mournful tenderness,—
With this longing for the baby-
That for weary months has bound me,
For the look her blue eyes gave me,
And her winning, fond caress.
I have heard some grief is deeper:
That of mourning ones still yearning
For the brave hearts stilled forever
'Mid the clash of war's alarms,
But I know no sadder picture
Than fond memory, slowly turning
From the past, to gaze in silence
On a mother's empty arms.
Oh, they told me, those who knew not,
That I would not miss her ever,—
Would not always start expectant
At the mention of her name ;
But as many moons have vanished
Since the Father bade us sever,
As her brief existence numbered,
And the void seems just the same.
Often, as the night advanceth,
From my troubled sleep upstarting,
Am I roused by what seem echoes
Of my baby's plaintive cry.
And I catch familiar accents
From my trembling lips departing,—
Whispers of some name endearing,
Or some soothing lullaby.
And my spirit sinks when fadeth
This, my slumber's bright creating,
Till Faith breathes, ' Her fleeting life
Was but a glimpse of heaven to thee.
There in changeless, endless beauty
Is thy angel babe awaiting
To be folded to thy bosom
Through a long eternity.'
So I gaze off with the dawning,
To where day in light is breaking,—
Where the white gleam of the marble
Tells me some death's waves have crossed ;
And I muse, without a shudder,
On that sleep that hath no waking,
For I know it must o'ertake me
Ere I see the loved and lost.
Oh, I trust they'll lay my ashes
Close beside this faded blossom !
Would my arms might twine around her,
And her lips to mine be pressed !
'Twere so sweet to think the casket
Might be folded to my bosom,
That our dust might not be parted
In that deep, unbroken rest !
All pale, yet beautiful in grief, she laid her down to rest,
And her head was softly pillowed on a loving sister's breast ;
A flower, exhaling to the skies, yet scarce of earth a part,
She was fading, drooping, dying, ―dying of a broken heart.
' Tell me, sister,' thus she murmured, and her whispered words scarce heard
Fell like strains from distant harp-strings by soft breezes lightly stirred,―
' Tell me, when my sands are wasted, when the silken cord is riven,
Will this memory cling about me ? can I bear it up to heaven ?
' Oh, answer yes, my sister, ―it were cruel to say No ;
He was false, but do not blame him, for I loved ―I loved him so !
I have suffered keenly, deeply, but the strife is almost o'er,
And my latest thoughts now wander to the sunny days of yore.
Do not tell him, should he seek you, how my heart by grief was wrung ;
Only say, I died with blessings and his name upon my tongue.
Tell him how I clasped his image fondly, wildly, to my breast,―
How I prayed that he would join me in the mansions of the blest ;
How the dearest hope I cherished was, that when my soul was free,
Its deep love might still be changeless through a long eternity.
Ask him if he has forgotten the quiet, mossy dell
Where we used to sit together when the twilight shadows fell;
Where he gently smoothed my tresses, drew me closer to his side,
Breathing low, in tenderest accents, ' Golden-haired and sunny-eyed.'
Where my forehead with the baptism of his lips was often wet;
Ah, those moments, gone forever, how I love, how prize them yet !
Their remembrance lingers o'er me, the dear star-light of my heart,
And, though all grow dim around me, this can nevermore depart.
'Ask him more, ―if he remembers one lovely eve in June,
How we wandered to the brook-side to watch the rising moon ;
How, in playfulness, his fingers traced my name upon the sand ;
How his own was writ beneath it in a trembling, fluttering hand.
Oh, he does not dream how sacredly those golden grains I've kept,
Or how, that moonlit evening, while others sweetly slept,
I glided o'er the dewy lawn, soft oped the garden-gate,
And, reaching thus the trysting-spot, ―now lone and desolate,―
I gathered up each tiny grain, and, with a miser's care,
Concealed them with my treasured gifts,―the tress of auburn hair,
The picture, and the withered bud, now hidden on my breast,―
There, sister, let them slumber when you lay me down to rest.
'Softly, softly! Oh, my sister, has the daylight faded quite?
Or does memory now bathe me in a flood of starry light?
I can see him, ―he is coming, ―now his arms are open wide;
Lay me, sister, on his bosom! What is all the world beside ?
Oh, I knew he would be constant! I was sure that he would come ;
Nearer, nearer, sister ―tell him―tell him―I ―am―going―home.
You will never call him faithless ―never censure, blame him― No !
Only tell him, sister dearest, that I loved ―I loved him so!'
Her voice was hushed ; twas over ; no murmur ―scarce a sigh ;
The silence was unbroken, save by seraphs floating by.
The watcher shed no tear-drop as she closed those rayless eyes,
For she knew she would awaken to the joys of Paradise.
The hectic flush had faded from those snowy cheeks of clay,
But she thought of bloom perennial in the climes of endless day.
The pallid lips seemed quivering with a soft angelic smile,
As though the soul, at parting, had lingered there awhile
To breathe its benediction o'er that form of matchless mold,
So calm, so pure, so beautiful, so young, yet, oh ! so cold.
And when they robed her for the tomb, they found a shining band
Of auburn hair, ―a withered bud, ―his pictured face,― and sand !
These, and that face so sadly sweet, a tale of suffering spoke ;
They told how much that gentle heart was tortured ere it broke.