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And their first-born holds forth, their darling boy,
With smiles how sweet, how full of love and joy,
To meet him coming; theirs through every year
Pure transports, such as each to each endear!
And laughing eyes and laughing voices fill
Their home with gladness. She, when all are still,
Comes and undraws the curtain as they lie,
In sleep how beautiful! He, when the sky
Gleams, and the wood sends up its harmony,
When, gathering round his bed, they climb to share
His kisses, and with gentle violence there
Break in upon a dream not half so fair,
Up to the hill-top leads their little feet;
Or by the forest-lodge, perchance to meet
The stag-herd on its march, perchance to hear
The otter rustling in the sedgy mere;
Or to the echo near the Abbot's tree,
That gave him back his words of pleasantry --
When the House stood, no merrier man than he !
And, as they wander with a keen delight,
If but a leveret catch their quicker sight
Down a green alley, or a squirrel then
Climb the gnarled oak, and look and climb again,
If but a moth flit. by, an acorn fall,
He turns their thoughts to Him who made them all ;
These with unequal footsteps following fast,
These clinging by his cloak, unwilling to be last.
The shepherd on Tornaro's misty brow,
And the swart seaman, sailing far below,
Not undelighted watch the morning ray
Purpling the orient - till it breaks away,
And burns and blizes into glorious day!
But happier still is he who bends to trace
That sun, the soul, just dawning in the face;
The burst, the glow, the animating strife,
The thoughts and passions stirring into life;
The forming utterance, the inquiring glance,
The giant waking from his ten-fold trance,
he starts as conscious whence he came, And all is light within the trembling frame !
What then a father's feelings? Joy and fear In turn prevail, -joy most; and through the year Tempering the ardent, urging night and day Him who shrinks back or wanders from the way, Praising each highly - from a wish to raise Their merits to the level of his praise, Onward in their observing sight he moves, Fearful of wrong, in awe of whom he loves ! Their sacred presence who shall dare profane? Who, when he slumbers, hope to fix a stain ? He lives a model in his life to show, That, when he dies and through the world they go, Some men may pause and say, when some admire, They are his sons, and worthy of their sire ! ”
But man is born to suffer. On the door Sickness has set her mark; and now no more Laughter within we hear, or wood-notes wild As of a mother singing to her child. All now in anguish from that room retire, Where a young cheek glows with consuming fire, And innocence breathes contagion -- all but one, But she who gave it birth from her alone The medicine-cup is taken. Through the night, And through the day, that with its dreary light
Comes unregarded, she sits silent by,
Watching the changes with her anxious eye;
While they without, listening below, above,
(Who but in sorrow know how much they love ?)
From every little noise catch hope and fear,
Exchanging still, still as they turn to hear,
Whispers and sighs, and smiles all tenderness,
That would in vain the starting tear repress.
Such grief was ours --- it seems but yesterday --
When in thy prime, wishing so much to stay,
’T was thine, Maria, thine without a sigh
At midnight in a sister's arms to die !
O, thou wert lovely — lovely was thy frame,
And pure thy spirit as from Heaven it came !
And, when recalled to join the blest above,
Thou diedst a victim to exceeding love,
Nursing the young to health. In happier hours,
When idle Fancy wove luxuriant flowers,
Once in thy mirth thou bad'st me write on thee;
And now I write — what thou shalt never see !
At length the father, vain his power to save, Follows his child in silence to the grave (That child how cherished, whom he would not give, Sleeping the sleep of death, for all that live); Takes a last look, when, not unheard, the spade Scatters the earth as dust to dust” 28 is said, Takes a last look and goes; his best relief Consoling others in that hour of grief, And with sweet tears and gentle words infusing The holy calm that leads to heavenly musing.
But hark, the din of arms! no time for sorrow. To horse, to horse! A day of blood to-morrow !
One parting pang, and then - and then I fly,
Fly to the field, to triumph
or to die !
He goes, and night comes as it never came !
With shrieks of horror! - and a vault of flame !
And, lo! when morning mocks the desolate,
Red runs the river by; and at the gate
Breathless a horse without his rider stands !
But hush!.. a shout from the victorious bands !
And, 0, the smiles and tears, a sire restored !
One wears his helm, one buckles on his sword;
One hangs the wall with laurel-leaves, and all
Spring to prepare the soldier's festival;
While she best-loved, till then forsaken never,
Clings round his neck as she would cling forever!
Such golden deeds lead on to golden days,
Days of domestic peace — by him who plays
On the great stage how uneventful thought!
Yet with a thousand busy projects fraught,
A thousand incidents that stir the mind
To pleasure, such as leaves no sting behind !
Such as the heart delights in -- and records
Within how silently
- in more than words !
A holiday — the frugal banquet spread
On the fresh herbage near the fountain-head
With quips and cranks — what time the wood-lark there
Scatters his loose notes on the sultry air,
What time the king-fisher sits perched below,
Where, silver-bright, the water-lilies blow:-
A Wake -- the booths whitening the village green,
Where Punch and Scaramouch aloft are seen;
Sign beyond sign in close array unfurled,
Picturing at large the wonders of the world ;
And far and wide, over the vicar's pale,
Black hoods and scarlet crossing hill and dale,
All, all abroad, and music in the gale: --
A wedding dance - a dance into the night
On the barn-floor, when maiden-feet are light;
When the young bride receives the promised dower,
And flowers are flung, herself a fairer flower:
A morning-visit to the poor man's shed,
(Who would be rich while one was wanting bread ?)
When all are emulous to bring relief,
And tears are falling fast — but not for grief :
A walk in Spring - GRATTAN, like those with thee 31
By the heath-side (who had not envied me?)
When the sweet limes, so full of bees in June,
Led us to meet beneath their boughs at noon;
And thou didst say which of the great and wise,
Could they but hear and at thy bidding rise,
Thou wouldst call up and question.
Come in due order. Every morning brings
Its holy office; and the Sabbath-bell,
That over wood and wild and mountain-dell
Wanders so far, chasing all thoughts unholy
With sounds most musical, most melancholy,
Not on his ear is lost.
Then he pursues
The pathway leading through the aged yews,
Nor unattended ; and, when all are there, 32
Pours out his spirit in the house of prayer,
That house with many a funeral-garland hung *
Of virgin-white — memorials of the young,
The last yet fresh when marriage-chimes were ringing,
And hope and joy in other hearts were springing;