To A Beautiful Child On Her Birthday With A Wreath Of Flowers

Whilst others give thee wond’rous toys,
Or jewels rich and rare,
I bring but flowers—more meet are they
For one so young and fair.

’Tis not because that snowy brow
Might with the lily vie,
Or violet match the starry glance
Of that dark, lustrous eye;

Nor yet because a brighter blush
E’en rose leaf never wore,
But ’tis that in their leaves lies hid
A rare and mystic lore.

And with its aid I now shall form
A wreath of flow’rets wild—
Graceful, and full of meaning sweet,
To deck thy brow, fair child!

The primrose, first, the emblem fit
Of budding, early youth;
The daisy in whose leaves we read
Pure innocence and truth.

The rosebud, sign of youthful charms,
We well may give to thee,
And with it join the sweet frail leaves
Of the shrinking sensitive tree.

And, tribute to thy modesty,
The violet emblem meet,—
Itself concealing, yet on all
Shedding its perfume sweet.

And for thy kind and gentle heart
We bring the jessamine,
To twine with ivy, ever green—
True friendship’s sacred sign.

Thy wreath is formed—of blossoms bright
I’ve twined each link, and, yet,
Another flower I still must add,
The fragrant mignonnette,

Which says “However great the charms
That to thy lot may fall
Thy qualities of heart and mind
By far surpass them all.”

Aye, be it thus, and ever may
This lovely wreath, as now—
Emblem of every precious gift—
Be fit to deck thy brow.

But, last and dearest, ’mid the buds
Of that bright varied lot
Must ever be, my gentle child,
The sweet forget-me-not!

To A Young Mother On The Birth Of Her First Born Child

Young mother! proudly throbs thine heart, and well may it rejoice,
Well may’st thou raise to Heaven above in grateful prayer thy voice:
A gift hath been bestowed on thee, a gift of priceless worth,
Far dearer to thy woman’s heart than all the wealth of earth.

What store of deep and holy joy is opened to thy thought—
Glad, sunny dreams of future days, with bliss and rapture fraught;
Of hopes as varied, yet as bright, as beams of April sun,
And plans and wishes centred all within thy darling one!

While others seek in changing scenes earth’s happiness to gain,
In fashion’s halls to win a joy as dazzling as ’tis vain—
A bliss more holy far is thine, far sweeter and more deep,
To watch beside thine infant’s couch and bend above his sleep.

What joy for thee to ling’ring gaze within those cloudless eyes,
Turning upon thee with a glance of such sweet, strange surprise,
Or press a mother’s loving kiss upon that fair, white brow,
Of all earth’s weight of sin and care and pain unconscious now.

Then, as thy loved one’s sleeping breath so softly fans thy cheek,
And gazing on that tiny form, so lovely, yet so weak,
A dream comes o’er thee of the time when nobly at thy side
Thy cherished son shall proudly stand, in manhood’s lofty pride.

Yet a sad change steals slowly o’er thy tender, loving eye,
Thou twin’st him closer to thy heart, with fond and anxious sigh,
Feeling, however bright his course he too must suff’ring know,
Like all earth’s children taste alike life’s cup of care and woe.

But, oh! it lies within thy power to give to him a spell
To guard him in the darkest hour from sorrow safe and well;
Thou’lt find it in the narrow path the great and good have trod—
And thou thyself wilt teach it him—the knowledge of his God!

The Two Birth Nights

Bright glittering lights are gleaming in yonder mansion proud,
And within its walls are gathered a gemmed and jewelled crowd;
Robes of airy gauze and satin, diamonds and rubies bright,
Rich festoons of glowing flowers—truly ’tis a wondrous sight.

Time and care and gold were lavished that it might be, every way,
The success of all the season—brilliant fashionable gay.
’Tis the birth night of the heiress of this splendor wealth and state,
The sole child, the only darling, of a household of the great.

Now the strains of the fast galop on the perfumed air arise,
Rosy cheeks are turning carmine, brighter grow the brightest eyes,
As the whirling crowds of dancers pass again and yet again—
Girls coquettish, silly women, vapid and unmeaning men.

’Tis a scene to fill the thoughtful with a silent, vague dismay,
And from its unholy magic we are fain to steal away;
Out here in the quiet moonlight we may pause awhile and rest,
Whilst the solemn stars of heaven bring back peace unto our breast.

Soft! who is the fair young being—she who nightly joins us now,
In a robe of airy lightness, and with jewels on her brow,
Fair as the most fair ideal dreaming poet e’er inspired,
Or as lover, charmed by beauty, ever worshipped and admired.

Strange! what means that look so weary, that long-drawn and painful sigh;
And that gaze, intense and yearning, fixed upon the starlit sky?
Is she not the child of fortune, fortune’s pet and darling bright,
Yes, the beauteous, courted heiress—heroine of the gala night?

From the crowds of ardent lovers, who would beset her way,
Sickened by their whispered flatt’ries, she has coldly turned away;
And, as now the thrilling music falls upon her wearied ear,
She cannot resist a shudder, caused by mingled hate and fear.

“This is pleasure, then,” she murmurs; this is what the world calls bliss,
Oh! for objects less unworthy, for a holier life than this!
I am weary of its folly. O, Great Father, grant my boon:
“From its sinful, silken meshes, I pray Thee, free me soon!”

Did He answer? Now another year has passed with rapid flight,—
O’er the crowded, silent city broods the spirit of the night;
In the sick wards of the convent, fever-stricken, gasping, lies,
One with death’s damps on his brow, and its film o’er his eyes.

There beside him kneels a Sister, in coarse dusky robe and veil,
And with gentle care she moistens those poor lips so dry and pale;
Now she whispers hope and courage, now she tells of Heaven bright—
Thus it is the gentle heiress celebrates her next birth-night.

Not a trace of weary languor rests upon that ivory brow,
No vague sigh of restless yearning e’er escapes her bosom now;
Yet more fair and happy looks she, in that simple garb I ween,
Than when, robed in lace and jewels, she was called a ballroom’s queen.